Emerging adoption scandal could extend to Tuam home – Corless

‘There is the possibility that death certificates were falsified’, says Galway historian

Historian Catherine Corless holds a list of the names of missing children from the Tuam mother and baby home. Photograph: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

Historian Catherine Corless holds a list of the names of missing children from the Tuam mother and baby home. Photograph: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

 

Galway historian Catherine Corless says she is “not surprised” by confirmation of illegal birth registrations and believes the practice could extend to infants at the former Tuam mother and babies home.

“Nothing would shock me now,” Ms Corless said.

She had always maintained infants from the Tuam home could have been illegally adopted, even if recorded as having died.

“If they can falsify a birth date, there is the possibility that death certificates were falsified,” she said.

She had been able to trace only two records of burial among 798 death certificates recorded for the Tuam mother and babies home run by the Bon Secours order from 1925 to 1961.

“That means there were 796 babies and children whose burials are not accounted for in the county or surrounding areas,” she said.

Further investigation

Possible interference with birth and death certification at mother and baby homes in Tuam, Co Galway, and in Cork was highlighted as requiring further investigation in official HSE correspondence in October 2012, she pointed out.

The draft briefing paper had noted how deaths recorded at the Bessboro mother and baby home in Cork dropped dramatically in 1950 with the introduction of adoption legislation.

“The mother and baby home in Tuam was similarly involved with the provision of babies to the American adoptive market,” the HSE memo said, and “there are letters from senior church authorities asking for babies to be identified” for the US.

“We know there were burials on the grounds – as confirmed by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes test excavation – but this is why it is important that there is full exhumation at the site,” Ms Corless said.

The commission had confirmed in March 2017 the discovery of juvenile human remains in “significant quantities” on the grounds of the former home at Tuam.

An expert group established by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone had cast doubt on hopes of identification, but this was recently challenged by a University College Dublin-Trinity College team of scientists who pointed to advances in DNA testing.

“The Government is saying that each and every one of the 126 people whose births were incorrectly registered by the St Patrick’s Guild adoption society lost their identity, and the same goes for the infants at Tuam,” Ms Corless said.

“I am delighted this has come out and it is great for the adoption groups who have lobbied for an audit for 10 years,” she added.