Adoption campaigners: Bessborough questions need to be answered

By Conall ó Fátharta
Irish Examiner
June 3, 2015

Adoption rights campaigners have said “serious questions” need to be answered as to why concerns raised by the HSE about Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in 2012 were not acted upon at the time.

A number of adoption groups, human rights bodies, and politicians were reacting to the report, which expressed concerns that death records may have been falsified so children could be “brokered in clandestine adoption arrangements” at home and abroad.

It also revealed that, between 1934 and 1953, a total of 478 children are listed as having died in the institution.

Independent TD Clare Daly said “serious questions” needed to be answered about why the concerns raised by the HSE in 2012 were not acted upon then.

“This horrendous report absolutely vindicates adoption rights campaigners who have consistently called for illegal adoption practises to be fully investigated,” said Ms Daly.

Independent senator and former Children’s Rights Alliance chief executive Jillian van Turnhout questioned why the children’s minister and the Oireachtas were not informed of the report when an inquiry was announced on the issue last year.

“I believe this should have been in the public domain before now,” she said. “We should have known of the existence of this report. We continually show we have not learned any lessons on this issue.”

The executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Mark Kelly, said it was imperative that the upcoming commission of inquiry examine the issues raised in the HSE report.

“The ICCL trusts that the commission of investiga-tion will take due account of this damning information and that its recommendations will include the initiation of criminal proceedings in relation to any unjust enrichment arising from human trafficking from the home,” he said.

Paul Redmond, of the Coalition of Mother And Baby Home Survivors (CMABS), said he was “horrified but not shocked” at the contents of the report and questioned why it had taken so long to come into the public domain.

“What is truly inhuman is that the HSE and the Government knew the raw truth three years ago and covered it up and dismissed all the lobbying from campaigners,” said Mr Redmond. “CMABS sincerely believes there needs to be an investigation into who knew about this report and when they knew it. Resignations must follow.”

The US co-ordinator for the Adoption Rights Alliance, Mari Steed, who was born in Bessborough and adopted to the US, said she was “no longer surprised” at revelations concerning mother and baby homes.

“These latest revelations serve to confirm a pattern of cover-up,” said Ms Steed. “Despite the best intentions of HSE employees and other well-meaning citizen reporters to highlight areas of concern, both with regard to mother-baby home practices and records as well as transfers to and from Magdalene institutions from the former, we continue to see willful disregard at the highest level.”


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