Kenny warned of Garda complaint if he delays adoption inquiry

By Patsy Mcgarry
Irish Times
November 14, 2016

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: told in letter there was “undeniable evidence of cases of forced adoption within the mother-and-baby homes”.
Photo by Gareth Chaney

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been warned that unless he establishes a commission of inquiry into forced adoptions by the end of this month, the matter will be reported to the Garda.

In a letter to the Taoiseach last week, the former assistant national director of child and family services with the Health Service Executive, Phil Garland, said that in October 2012 he notified statutory authorities and the then inquiry into Magdalene laundries about “the high rate of infant death in mother-and-baby homes and the possibility of forced adoption of children from within the State”.

There was “undeniable evidence of cases of forced adoption within the mother-and-baby homes that had been uncovered as a result of the Magdalene inquiry” which published its report in February 2013, he said. Such evidence was also available in the 2009 Ryan report, which investigated the abuse of children in orphanages, industrial schools, and reformatories, he said.


Mr Garland, who also had the role of director of child protection in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese from 2003 to 2009, recalled in the letter how in July 2014 he notified then Minister for Health James Reilly of evidence for “instances of systematic forced adoption” in Ireland.

The examples were “dramatic and inescapable” with “reports of cases of forced adoption and trafficking occurring up to the present day,” he said in the letter to the Taoiseach.

He further noted how in September 2014 a BBC documentary, Ireland’s Lost Babies, had shown the extent of the transatlantic adoption trade between Ireland and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s and which the Magdalene inquiry had shown was “systemic and embedded in the State”.

There needed to be “an immediate Irish State inquiry into adoption” which would cover “forced adoption; trafficking babies; and unethical and illegal adoption practices within mother-and-baby homes,” he said in the correspondence.

The timeline for such an inquiry would need “to extend back over the last number of decades, up to and including the present day”. The practice of forced adoption had caused “dramatic, hard mental and physical damage to the large number of people affected,” he said.

Bound by law

He reminded the Taoiseach, now that he (Mr Kenny) had been notified personally of such abuses, illegalities and “the possibility of ongoing forced adoption”, that he was bound by law to act within 21 days to address the matter fully through, for example, setting up a commission of inquiry.

Failure to do so could mean prosecution of the Taoiseach under the 2006 Criminal Justice Act, which introduced the criminal charge of reckless endangerment when it came to negligence by those in authority in protecting children.

Should the Taoiseach not set up such a commission, Mr Garland said he would be “left with no option” but to notify the gardaí.

He signed the letter as director of the Sunrise Organisation, which was set up last August “to help Irish people in Ireland and abroad who are impacted by abuse”.

Copies of his letter to the Taoiseach were also sent to President Michael D Higgins, Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, HSE national director Tony O’Brien, Tusla chief executive Fred McBride, as well as the four Catholic and two Church of Ireland archbishops.


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