'Spend the leftover €11.5m on investigation into adoption files'

'Spend the leftover €11.5m on investigation into adoption files'

One of the advocacy groups said funds unspent by the mother and baby homes commission should be used to catalogue and cross-reference adoptees' records and make them available to the people affected. File photo

The Taoiseach's State apology on mother and baby homes will mean nothing unless a full investigation is immediately launched into thousands of incomplete adoption files, campaigners say.

The €11.5m which was left unspent by the mother and baby homes commission must now be used to fully investigate what happened to thousands of children with incomplete adoption files

State adoption agencies cannot say what happened to thousands of children for whom files were opened but an adoption order was not granted.

'No excuse for delaying full review'

The Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL), Aitheantas, and the Clann Project have all said a lack of funding or resources cannot be used as an excuse to delay a full review and say a forensic investigation into incomplete adoption files is now required.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) had claimed that a full review is “not feasible” as it would be extremely costly and time-consuming.

Over 4,000 incomplete adoption files are held by the AAI, while Tusla has over 70,000 files but cannot say how many of these are completed adoptions or partial files.

'Set up independent agency'

Aitheantas, the adoptee identity rights organisation, is calling for the immediate establishment of an independent agency to conduct a full investigation into the matter.

"It is not acceptable for the AAI to assert that an investigation is 'not feasible' when it is required by our commitments to European and international human rights conventions," Aitheantas founder Maree Ryan-O’Brien said.
Our commitment to the International Human Rights Convention necessitates that this matter is investigated fully. Costs should not be an obstacle in this regard.

Calling on children's minister Roderic O'Gorman to urgently establish an independent probe, she said: “We are of the opinion that the AAI or Tusla should not be tasked to carry out this investigation, as it is vital that it is independently conducted. 

Parties, bodies, or institutions who have already sat on, heard, or decided on these issues in the past should not be reviewing the same decisions in the future.

'Unregulated forced adoption' 

Doireann Ansbro, ICCL head of legal and policy, said people have a right to know their identity, what happened to their family members, and to see accountability for wrong done.

She said there is a huge lack of information about what she called "a system of unregulated and forced adoption" in this country in the 20th century.

There is evidence that this system led to a range of rights violations including forced separation, enforced disappearance, denial of family rights, and denial of access to personal information.

"Government has a duty to thoroughly and effectively investigate this system to vindicate the rights to truth, justice and reparations for those who have suffered violations. They must devote the necessary resources for doing so," said Ms Ansbro.

'Use unspent funds to investigate'

This was echoed by Claire McGettrick co-director of the Clann Project survivors support group, who suggested that unspent funds from the mother and baby homes commission should be used to investigate the matter: 

€11.5m would be a good start to set up a dedicated archive to centralise all the records.

"The only way to get to the bottom of this is through centralising all of the records, catalogue them properly, scan them, make them available to the people who are affected by them — but then also establish a cross-referencing exercise to understand what became of those involved," she said.

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