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Baby mix-up scandal women now planning legal action against adoption society


Searching for answers: Helen Maguire and her daughter Christine Skipsey.
Photo: Damien Eagers

Searching for answers: Helen Maguire and her daughter Christine Skipsey. Photo: Damien Eagers

Searching for answers: Helen Maguire and her daughter Christine Skipsey. Photo: Damien Eagers

The women at the centre of the St Patrick's Guild baby mix-up scandal are seeking court approval to bring lawsuits against the former adoption society.

A joint application on behalf of Helen Maguire (71) and Christine Skipsey (52) was filed with the High Court by their solicitors last week, the Irish Independent has learned.

A similar application was also filed on behalf of 'Line of Duty' and 'Game of Thrones' actor Patrick FitzSymons, whose illegal adoption was organised by the guild.

High Court approval is needed before the lawsuits can go ahead as the company behind the Catholic adoption society, St Patrick's Guild (Incorporated), is in voluntary liquidation.

In 1966 Ms Maguire, a single mother, briefly gave her newborn baby for safekeeping to nuns at St Patrick's. But DNA tests conducted more than half a century later revealed Ms Skipsey, the child she was handed back, was not her biological daughter. Details of their bombshell discovery were first revealed by the Irish Independent in June.

Both women are seeking an apology from the Religious Sisters of Charity, which ran the adoption society in Blackrock, Co Dublin, as well as the State, due to the alleged failure by An Bord Uchtála, the old adoption board, to intervene over practices there.

The two women and Mr FitzSymons are represented by Dublin law firm Coleman Legal Partners. The firm also filed a third High Court application last week on behalf of an unnamed client, who was illegally adopted.

Co Tipperary-born Ms Maguire had a baby in London in 1966 and initially kept the birth secret from her family.

When she returned home for a visit that December, she needed somewhere to leave her daughter for safekeeping.

She says she brought her to St Patrick's Guild on the advice of "singing priest" Fr Michael Cleary. Ms Maguire retrieved what she believed to be her daughter six weeks later. But questions arose in her mind last year following publicity about illegal adoptions and irregularities with birth registrations at the guild.

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She and the woman she raised as her daughter decided to get DNA tests. To their shock, these revealed with 99.9pc certainty Ms Skipsey was not Ms Maguire's daughter. Ms Maguire later discovered her birth daughter was adopted by a Dublin couple.

It remains unclear if the baby mix-up was deliberate or a mistake.

Ms Maguire and Ms Skipsey have been trying to get to the truth about what happened.

But their search for answers will be hampered by the fact the nuns involved are no longer alive.

In Mr FitzSymons's case, his birth parents handed him to St Patrick's Guild in the 1960s due to the stigma surrounding unmarried mothers at the time. He was subsequently given to a couple in Northern Ireland. He would later discover he was among at least 148 babies incorrectly registered between 1946 and 1969.

These babies were placed with a couple or individual who was not their parent, but the birth was then registered as if the child had been born to that couple or individual.

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