748 more cases of concern in adoption scandal

Tusla has raised concerns about a further 748 adoption cases from St Patrick’s Guild which contain evidence of names being changed, cash payments and other “irregularities”.

748 more cases of concern in adoption scandal

The revelation is contained in a note of a meeting between representatives of Tusla, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Adoption Authority of Ireland on March 13.

At the meeting, the recently revealed 126 illegal birth registration cases marked “adopted from birth” were also discussed.

However, Tusla also raises “concerns” about a further 700 cases from St Patrick’s Guild’s records — some of which involve children sent to the USA. The number of cases of concern rose to 748 in later correspondence.

These cases contain evidence of names being changed, payments being made to the agency, and placements of children with no corresponding adoption order. Reference is also made to “other matters that indicate irregularities”.

The report of the March 13 meeting said: “Furthermore, Tusla said that a further examination of the scanned index cards had raised concerns in that some 700 index cards contain references to placements with no Irish adoption order, change of names and other matters that indicate irregularities.

Some of these 700 index cards relate to children that went to the USA.

“Tusla also noted that many of the index cards made reference to payments (often £100) being made to the Guild.”

Released under Freedom of Information (FOI), the note indicates that Department of Children and Youth Affairs secretary general Fergal Lynch, who was present at the meeting, advised that “due to the sensitivity and importance of the matter” it had been the subject of “an early warning notification to Government through the Department of An Taoiseach”.

Tusla then prepared three interim reports for the department on the issue between March and May.

In the first of these on March 23, Tusla stated that 748 cases had been identified as containing “out of State placements” and “other possible anomalies” and that these files were being reviewed.

The third interim report, prepared on May 10, states that 611 children were identified as having been sent overseas and that “a deeper review and analysis” would be required “to track the journey of each child from birth to the point where the infant left the jurisdiction”.

In a table prepared on May 9 outlining the number of illegal registration cases found, reference is made to this larger tranche of 748 cases.

Alongside the “first tranche” of 126 cases outlined by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone at the end of May, Tusla also lists the “second tranche” of 748 cases which are recorded as “Anomalies including Adoptions overseas”.

In a presentation for Ms Zappone on May 10, Tusla also revealed that, while dealing with tracing inquiries since it took possession of the St Patrick’s Guild records in 2016, it had discovered “a significant number” of suspected illegal registrations — 25 such cases as far back as June 2017.

The Irish Examiner has published documented cases of illegal registrations in relation to St Patrick’s Guild as far back as 2010. In 2015, this newspaper revealed that the AAI informed the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2013 that St Patrick’s Guild was aware of “several hundred” illegal registrations.

At that time, the department stated that an audit of adoption records was of “limited benefit” and would yield little useful information”.

Meanwhile, Ms Zappone has said the delay in bringing the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 into law is due to issues surrounding the natural parents’ right to privacy.

The legislation will create for the first time a statutory right for adopted people and people who have been the subject of an illegal birth registration to birth certificate information and certain other information.

Ms Zappone held a series of meetings yesterday to brief advocacy groups on the legislation. She will also brief them on the issue of illegal birth registrations.

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