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Former Tánaiste says 126 false birth records ‘just the tip of the iceberg’

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Joan Burton photographed at the Pheonix Park in Dublin.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 10/1/21

Joan Burton photographed at the Pheonix Park in Dublin.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 10/1/21

Joan Burton photographed at the Pheonix Park in Dublin.Picture Credit:Frank McGrath 10/1/21

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman will update Cabinet on the falsification of birth records, ahead of a major RTÉ documentary on the subject.

RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Illegal Adoptions will interview some of the 126 people who were given illegal and inaccurate birth certs after adoptive parents were told to register the babies as their own.

A report had been drawn up on the issue by Mr O’Gorman’s department and a memo for action is due to be submitted to Government within weeks.

The advice to adoptive parents which resulted in the false birth certs being issued was given by St Patrick’s Guild, an adoption agency formerly on Haddington Road in Dublin.

One of those children placed by St Patrick’s Guild was former Tánaiste and ex-leader of the Labour Party Joan Burton.

She told the Irish Independent: “Imagine that in a country which does not allow adopted people access to their birth files you suddenly learn that Tusla can declare 126 cases of illegal registration.

“Imagine the shock, the bewilderment of the people affected.

“Who are you, where are you from, what’s your name — this is a universal Irish conversation, but one that many Irish adopted people can’t fully answer.”

Nearly three years have passed since these adopted people received this news and nothing had happened since to clarify their legal rights, she said.

Ms Burton introduced a private members bill to the Dáil In January 2019 which would have addressed the situation of illegal registration of their birth and the issuance of false birth certificates.

“Questions of identity are fundamental to every human person and this issue will not go away until the Government faces up to its legal and moral responsibilities,” Ms Burton said.

“I fear that the revelations of the 126 cases are just the tip of the iceberg. We know that a further 748 adoption cases are of concern in the case of St Patrick’s Guild alone.

“How many other cases there are — given the hundreds of institutions and adoption societies and agencies that placed children for adoption — is anyone’s guess.”

While most adoptive parents have told their children their birth story, a number have not, she added. People who learned they were adopted at 30, 40, or 50 and older might even then not have received their full birth story, she said.

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“Adopted people and families affected by these terrible disclosures deserve that this appalling abuse of truth be addressed by the minister and Government as soon as possible,” she said.

“Adopted people affected have been left in a no mans land. They have lived their lives since they were babies as the children of their adoptive parents and families Now they don’t even have a valid adoption registration.”

Up to now the Government has resolutely turned a blind eye to what may only be the tip of the iceberg in respect of invalid, false, and illegal adoption arrangements, Ms Burton said.

“Adopted people deserve better, and so do their adoptive parents and siblings, and the mothers who gave birth to them.”

  • RTÉ Investigates: Ireland’s Illegal Adoptions will be broadcast on Wednesday night on RTÉ One at 9.35pm

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