Adoption Authority examining 140 more births suspected of being illegally registered

Dáil hears of ’home boys’ sent from institutions to work for farmers

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has confirmed that 140 more births suspected of being illegally registered are being examined by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/THE IRISH TIMES

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has confirmed that 140 more births suspected of being illegally registered are being examined by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/THE IRISH TIMES

 

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has confirmed that 140 more births suspected of being illegally registered are being examined by the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

Ms Zappone said “a validation exercise” is being carried out on the new cases. She was speaking during a Dáil debate on the illegal registration of the 126 confirmed cases, where births were falsely registered by St Patrick’s Guild adoption society.

Ms Zappone said that some of those 126 would never be informed because their identities had been deliberately concealed or the people could be dead.

The Minister said a well planned analysis of the 100,000 records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland was needed to identify illegal birth registrations and “to see if a major trawl is likely to give us hard evidence of illegal registrations”.

But she said a wider group of stakeholders could be included in the investigations including “advocates, adoptees, archivists, relevant journalists” and genealogy experts.

During the debate former tánaiste Joan Burton called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to “lift the veil of secrecy” and give adopted people the right to their personal histories and information.

Ms Burton said they had gone through five years, of talking about the right to information. The Labour TD, who was herself adopted, said Mr Varadkar and others “have benefitted from our acknowledgement in full of other rights, but this Dáil still has not acknowledged the rights of adopted people to their personal histories and information”.

Ms Burton said “adopted people are still the only people who do not have fundamental human rights in this country”.

She said: “I know there are many people buried in the Irish systems of administration and politics who think the sky will fall in if these rights are realised, but we have provided referendums on gay marriage, reproductive rights and divorce. This is the only issue still outstanding.”

The controversial Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill has been criticised because while it includes the provision of a birth certificate it requires an adopted person to sign a non-disclosure agreement not to contact the birth family to comply with privacy right requirements.

“It may be that drawing on some the wider expertise, which seems to be what is needed, might help us to proceed more effectively than by using more traditional forms of research.”

Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny spoke of children from State institutions who were known as “home boys” and went to live with farmers when they were 12 or 13.

The Leitrim TD said that back in the 1930s nearly every second house had a home boy.

“They had grown up in an institution and had no clue of family life or rural living. They had no clue about anything,” he said.

“They were very poorly educated and many of them could hardly read or write. In many places these people were treated very well but, sadly, in many places they were not treated well at all. In many homes they were treated very poorly.”