Woman ‘given back wrong child’ to begin legal proceedings

Helen Maguire (71) left infant daughter in temporary care at St Patrick’s Guild in Dublin

Solicitors acting for a woman who was given back the wrong child after leaving her infant daughter in the temporary care of nuns at the St Patrick’s Guild adoption society in Dublin are expected to begin legal proceedings this week.

Helen Maguire (71) only found out Christine Skipsey (52), whom she went on to raise, was not in fact her daughter after the pair decided to take DNA tests last year.

Ms Maguire has reported the situation to gardaí as an official kidnapping complaint, sources confirmed.

Her story emerged in the aftermath of revelations last year that St Patrick’s Guild had incorrectly registered at least 126 births, a number that has since grown. Tusla, the child and family agency, is still in the process of contacting those affected.

Ms Maguire considered taking a DNA test when she became alarmed by developments at the society, according to a media report.

It is understood solicitors acting on her behalf are now preparing legal letters informing St Patrick’s Guild, the Adoption Authority of Ireland and the State of pending legal action relating to the case.

Ms Maguire, according to the report, later discovered her biological daughter had been adopted by a couple after she had left her in the care of the nuns for six weeks in 1966. It is unclear if this adoption was intentional or not.

Joan Burton, the Labour TD adopted through St Patrick's Guild who has been pushing for reform in the area of adoption rights, described the case as "every parent and adopted child's worst nightmare".

It will raise further questions over how adoptions were managed at the Blackrock-based adoption society, which was run by the Religious Sisters of Charity order.

In an interview in the Irish Independent last Saturday, in which Ms Maguire and Ms Shipsey went public with their story, Ms Shipsey said she felt “very lonely” after they got the DNA results. It has raised questions for both women – the fate of Ms Maguire’s biological daughter, and Ms Skipsey’s identity.

“Christine will always be my daughter as far as I am concerned. She is still my baby and I love Christine to bits,” Ms Maguire said in the interview.

The women have been in touch with Tusla for assistance. The Religious Sisters of Charity order did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ms Maguire is being represented by Coleman Legal Partners, the Dublin law firm involved in several other cases relating to illegal adoptions at St Patrick's Guild.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times