Gov­ern­ment urged to lift ‘veil of se­crecy’ on birth de­tails

Irish Examiner - - News - Juno McEn­roe

For­mer tá­naiste Joan Bur­ton has called for the Gov­ern­ment to lift the veil of se­crecy on birth de­tails and adop­tions to al­low peo­ple ac­cess their per­sonal his­to­ries.

Her com­ments came as Chil­dren’s Min­is­ter Kather­ine Zap­pone con­firmed to the Dáil that the births of 126 peo­ple from St Pa­trick’s Guild had been reg­is­tered il­le­gally.

She said the State would never be able to con­tact some peo­ple who were adopted and whose births were il­le­gally reg­is­tered here.

She de­scribed how she had met ad­vo­cates this week seek­ing ac­cess to adop­tion and birth cer­tifi­cate de­tails.

On the St Pa­trick’s Guild con­tro­versy, she said: “In ef­fect, ba­bies were given to a cou­ple and reg­is­tered as the child of that cou­ple and not of the baby’s birth par­ents. While there have been sus­pi­cions about il­le­gal reg­is­tra­tions for many years, it has been ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to un­cover clear ev­i­dence be­cause of the de­lib­er­ate fail­ure by those in­volved to keep records.”

Ms Zap­pone de­scribed how, of the 126 cases, 79 have never had con­tact with St Pa­trick’s Guild or with Tusla and that, in the re­main­ing cases, there has been some con­tact by an in­di­vid­ual or a rel­a­tive.

She con­firmed that the Adop­tion Au­thor­ity is aware of a num­ber of cases, around 140, where sus­pi­cions in re­la­tion to il­le­gal reg­is­tra­tion are now be­ing ex­am­ined. The bulk of these cases were re­ported to the depart­ment as far back as 2010.

Many TDs are call­ing for leg­is­la­tion to fa­cil­i­tate the re­lease of doc­u­ments and per­sonal his­to­ries to be agreed by the Cab­i­net.

Ms Bur­ton said Ire­land was out of step with other coun­tries.

“In one of the last de­nials of per­sonal free­doms in Ire­land, many adopted peo­ple are still locked out of ac­cess to their own files,” she said.

“It is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand this when we know that the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Aus­tralia, for close to half a cen­tury, have a l l o we d a c c e s s t o i n for­ma­tion once an adopted per­son be­comes an adult.

“It is the min­is­ter’s job to per­suade this Taoiseach that he should lift the veil of se­crecy. He and oth­ers have ben­e­fited 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 de­scribed how chil­dren had been taken out of their homes and put into work, in­clud­ing boys farmed out as labour­ers at the age of 14 and girls sent to work as maids and ser­vants in mid­dle-class homes.

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