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Minister to bring memo on illegal birth registrations to Cabinet next week

The review was commissioned in 2018 but its publication was delayed.

Image: Shutterstock/STEKLO

CHILDREN’S MINISTER RODERIC O’Gorman is to bring a memo to Cabinet next week on the sampling review of illegal birth registrations, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin. 

The publication of the sampling review in illegal birth registrations, which was commissioned in 2018, was temporarily deferred so as not to encroach on the work of the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes. 

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, the Taoiseach said now that the Commission has published its final report, a memo on the publication of the sampling review into illegal birth registrations will be discussed by ministers.

The Taoiseach said it is intended to publish the sampling review shortly.

This afternoon, he also recommitted to pushing ahead with the tracing legislation this year. 

His comments come ahead of tonight’s RTÉ Investigates programme which examines the story of Ireland’s illegal adoptions and some of the powerful individuals who facilitated the once common practice. 

The Taoiseach said he understood the programme due to air this evening will focus on the St. Patrick’s Guild illegal birth registrations.

“The illegality of what took place is shocking, particularly for those affected. I refer to the trauma, anguish and hurt that people are now experiencing as a result of this unacceptable practice. What happened was wrong, plain and simple, and completely unacceptable. Enormous trauma has been placed on people as a result of this illegality,” he said.

Martin said it remains a government priority to introduce information and tracing legislation as a priority, stating that the comprehensive legislation will provide access to birth information, including the birth certificate, for individuals and for anyone who has a question in relation to their identity and, indeed, their origins.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the news that the Department of Children has confirmed at least 151 illegal adoptions at the St. Patrick’s Guild adoption society in Dublin is “deeply upsetting”.

However, it has to be said that it is not surprising, she added.

“Successive Governments have known of these scandals for decades, yet they have failed to name them or to act, despite ample documentary evidence. Indeed, campaigners have been raising these issues with successive Governments since at least 2002,” she said.

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“This St. Patrick’s Guild audit is only the tip of the iceberg. It is widely considered that thousands of children were illegally adopted, some of whom were trafficked to America or elsewhere, and that hundreds of institutions across the State were involved in these practices. Indeed, it has been reported that the Government review has found evidence of illegal adoptions in multiple organisations,” McDonald told the Dáil.

“Children had their identities erased through the falsification of their birth certificates. Their most basic right was stolen – the right to know who one is and from where one came,” said the Sinn Féin leader.

“There are people who were illegally adopted but have no idea that they were adopted. Many have lived for decades unaware of their identities and without access to their records. Many will want to know who their birth parents are, but now it may be too late,” she added. 

The Taoiseach called on Sinn Fein and other Opposition parties to work with the government on the tracing legislation, stating that this issue needs cross-party co-operation to get it over the line.

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