Monday 16 September 2019

Wrong baby scandal part of 'shameful past'

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
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has described the story of a mother given the wrong baby at St Patrick's Guild as "awful".

In her first comments on the case, Ms Zappone said it is part of Ireland's "very shameful" past.

Helen Maguire (71) gave her newborn baby to nuns at St Patrick's for safekeeping in 1966. But DNA tests have revealed the baby the nuns gave her back is not her biological daughter.

The discovery has devastated Ms Maguire and the child she raised, Christine Skipsey (52).

Last week, the two women told the Irish Independent how they are searching for answers since receiving the results last July.

A key question is whether the mix-up was accidental or intentional, but the quest for the truth will be hampered by the fact those involved are no longer alive.

Reacting to the case, Ms Zappone said: "It's awful that these things have happened in the past. I think both the Taoiseach and myself have acknowledged that.

"There have been difficult, very shameful parts of our past. I'm glad to see that Tusla is part of assisting the women in that case."

Tusla has been providing assistance to Ms Maguire and Ms Skipsey in recent months.

According to Ms Maguire, the child and family agency believes it has identified her biological daughter. Arrangements have been put in place for them to meet in the near future. It is believed her birth daughter was adopted by a married couple in Dublin.

The Religious Sisters of Charity ran the facility but has said it cannot assist the women.

In a statement, the order said it took over the management of St Patrick's in Blackrock, Co Dublin, in 1943. "In May 2016 all adoption records held at St Patrick's Guild were passed over to Tusla.

"There are no sisters alive today who would have been involved there and all enquiries should be made to Tusla or the Adoption Authority."

The order was asked whether it knew of any other cases where babies were swapped.

It was also asked how many unmarried mothers may have been referred to St Patrick's by "singing priest" Fr Michael Cleary. However, these questions were not addressed in the statement.

Irish Independent

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