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Birth mum and long-lost son sue State over 'illegal' adoption by church agency


Tressa Donnelly Reeves and Patrick Farrell outside court

Tressa Donnelly Reeves and Patrick Farrell outside court

Tressa Donnelly Reeves and Patrick Farrell outside court

A man who is suing a Catholic adoption agency and the State has told the High Court that learning six years ago he had been "illegally adopted" was a "bombshell".

Patrick 'Paddy' Farrell (57), also known as Andre Donnelly, said he discovered in late 2012 that he was not the child of the now deceased Maeve and Jim Farrell, from Liscolman, Tullow, Co Carlow.

He told the court about his feelings upon finding out about his illegal adoption, meeting his long-lost family, and the violence he suffered at the hands of his adoptive father.

Following a communication from the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) in 2012, he was informed he had been illegally adopted and a meeting was arranged in early 2013 with his birth mother, he said.

After 50 years of being Paddy Farrell, he said he discovered he was Andre Donnelly.

"You couldn't write that," he added.

He was giving evidence on the first day of his damages action against the St Patrick's Guild adoption society and the State over his adoption.

Mr Farrell and his birth mother, Tressa Donnelly Reeves, who now lives in England, claim the adoption was unlawful and was done without the legal safeguards provided under the adoption laws.


The adoption agency and the State, which are both being sued by Ms Donnelly Reeves and Mr Farrell, deny the claims.

Ms Donnelly Reeves says she spent decades looking for her son following his birth in Dublin in March 1961.

Mr Farrell told the court he met his birth mother in early 2013. It was a controlled and very strange meeting arranged at the AAI offices, where they were told not to exchange personal details.

He said after the meeting he spoke to his mother in the car park, and they went for a coffee and had "a good old natter" in a hotel where they exchanged phone numbers and addresses.

When asked by his counsel Eanna Mulloy about his feelings over his mother's quest to find him, Mr Farrell said he was "very angry" and "words fail me". He said she was "given the runaround for years and years and years and years".

He said the lot of them "should be shot" for what they had done to her.

After 50 years of being Paddy Farrell, to be told you were born Andre Donnelly, he said: "Where do you start."

His biggest regret was that he never got to meet one sister, who died in 2006.

He said he suffered violence at the hands of his adoptive father Jim Farrell.

While Maeve Farrell had doted on him, his adoptive father was often violent toward the family.

The court also heard that during her long search to find her son, Ms Donnelly Reeves was allegedly given the "brush off" by St Patrick's.

They claim that the defendants made false misrepresentations, engaged in a conspiracy, deceit and failed to provide them with information about each other in a timely manner that they were entitled to.

The case before Mr Justice Denis McDonald continues.


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