Tag Archives: Katherine Zappone

From top: The former Mother and baby Home in Bessborough, Cork; from left: Irish Examiner journalist Conall Ó Fátharta, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, Dr James Gallen, of Dublin City University

In April 2017, Dr James Gallen, a lecturer in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University, was appointed by the Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone to help the Mother and Baby Homes Commission.

Specifically, Ms Zappone asked Dr Gallen “to assist by mapping out a model of ‘transitional justice’ as a means of giving voice to former residents of Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes”.

This morning, Conall Ó Fátharta, in The Irish Examiner, reports that Mr Gallen has accused the State of being:

“more concerned with managing the ‘potential scandal and legal liability’ of illegal adoption, birth registration, and other coercive adoption practices than helping victims”.

Mr Ó Fátharta reports:

Mr Gallen said “the State simply doesn’t get it” and pointed to the fact that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has committed to a “transitional justice” approach to the Mother and Baby homes scandal.

Talk of transitional justice is fundamentally undermined when the ongoing relationship between citizens and the State is one where the interests of an individual are countered by the desire to maintain the reputation of institutions,” said Mr Gallen.

Mr Gallen was speaking in light of a detailed special investigation by Mr Ó Fátharta published in Monday’s Irish Examiner about a woman Jackie Power (not her real name) who had to sign a consent form for her son to be adopted under a fictitious name.

Mr Ó Fátharta reported how, in 1974, Ms Power had a baby boy when she was a teenager in the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork.

Five months later she went back to Bessborough and signed a consent form allowing for her son to be adopted through the Sacred Heart Adoption Society.

She was told to put a false name on the consent form, which was also signed by a named nun.

The boy’s birth was illegally registered under this false name while the false name was also used for the formal adoption order.

In official documentation that followed, including the adoption order issued by the State’s regulatory body, the Adoption Board, both Ms Power and her son’s names were replaced by fictitious names.

Mr Ó Fátharta explained that if Ms Power’s son, who would now be 44, tried to contact his mother, he would, unbeknownst to himself, be searching for her under a false name.

In 2005, Ms Power told the Adoption Board (the AAI’s predecessor) about the false name and illegal registration and the agency didn’t inform the gardaí.

And…

Mr Ó Fátharta reported:

“Almost half a century later, the attitude of certain State agencies — the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI), and Tusla — to her case is as cold-hearted as the nuns who forced her as a 16-year-old to sign away both her and her son’s identities.

Instead of offering support or offering assistance, emails between staff members show the attitude of Tusla to be one of institutional self-preservation.

“Just last year, staff handling Jackie’s case were instructed in emails not to refer to situations like hers as “illegal” but instead as “possible illegal registrations”. Reference is made to having to “hold our powder” because “that stuff is FOI’able… and it could be used against us if someone takes a case”.

State ‘prioritising liability over adoption rights’ (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner)

Special Report: Women forced to give up babies for adoption still failed by State bodies (Conall Ó Fátharta, The Irish Examiner)

This afternoon.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone informed a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs about a review of Scouting Ireland records by safeguarding expert Ian Elliot.

She said she was informed last night that Mr Elliot found evidence of 71 alleged abusers and 108 alleged victims of abuse.

She added: “This is based on his work to date and the number may change.”

She said most of the alleged abuse occurred between the 1960s and 1980s but one case may be from an earlier period.

She said none of the alleged abusers are currently working with Scouting Ireland and that reports have been made to Tusla and An Garda Siochana in respect of the alleged abusers who are still alive.

Scouting Ireland finds evidence of 108 child abuse cases (The Irish Times)

This afternoon.

There will be an exhumation and a forensic examination of remains at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway but no inquests to discover the causes of death.

Actions to be taken will include:

A phased approach to the forensic excavation and recovery of the juvenile human remains in so far as this is possible;

The use of systematic on-site ground-truthing and test excavations to effectively locate potential burials;

The forensic analysis of any recovered remains and, where possible, individualisation and identification, and arrangements for respectful reburial and memorialisation and the appropriate conservation of the site.

Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD

The Tuam Babies’ Family Group said:

‘This is an exceptionally important decision and will pave the way for all the other mother and baby homes, and the lost children of Ireland.

We want all of the children found, if they are not in the grave, where are they? All of the children must be found and we would like to see a full excavation of the entire site as we believe there are many graves in the area, not just at the site we have all come to know.”

Kevin Higgins, a legal advisor to the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network, said:

“The set piece orchestrated today by Katherine Zappone announcing an excavation of the Tuam grave is possibly one of the most cynical and callous acts ever carried out by an Irish Government.

Having maintained for almost two years that Government would make the ‘final decision’ on the Tuam grave -she has repeatedly rebuffed the plain truth that Government did not have the power to make that decision.

Last evening [Monday] Leo Varadkar was asked several times by a representative of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network – what powers Government had to make such a decision and whether they had advice from the Attorney General, that they had such power.

In response he filibusterd and failed to give a direct answer.

Today in her Statement, Minister Zappone explicity acknowledges that it will require new legilsation to allow the Government excavate the site.

For two years the Coroner for North Galway has sat on his hands and declined to convene an inquest into the deaths of 800 children who have no known burial place except a cess-pit.

Two successive Attorneys General have declined to appoint another Coroner on foot of his failure to carry out his statutory duty to convene an Inquest.

Today the Government announces its intention to introduce legislation, effectively giving it the power to by-pass the law in respect of Inquests.

The only purpose of an Inquest is to determine the cause of death.

Neither Government or the Bon Secours Order are disposed to public knowledge of how those children died.

Denied any justice in life, Government now proposes to deny them any justice in death.

What is proposed is an excavation, reburial and as a gesture an attempt at identification for the benefit of survivor families.

A ‘dignified reburial’ means giving the residents of the Dublin Road Estate in Tuam, back the full run of their playground.

There will be no blame, no liability, no accountability, no vindication for the Tuam babies.

In tandem with today’s announcement, the biggest global owners of private hospitals, the Bon Secors nuns, have offered a ‘voluntary contribution’ of €2.5 million towards the cost of excavation.

They must consider it very good value.”

Tuam Home Survivors Network

Earlier….

From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly

This afternoon.

In the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions.

When posing a question to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about a change in the application process for women who formerly worked in Magdalene laundries seeking compensation and Caranua, Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly referred to the pending decision of the Government on the Tuam Mother and Baby Home site.

She said:

“I sincerely hope that your decision will be for a full excavation, a full exhumation of the site with a view to maximum information being available.”

In regards to Tuam, Mr Varadkar said:

“In relation to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, Minister [Katherine] Zappone will make a statement about that at 3pm and I think it’s fair to say that she’s put an enormous amount of work into studying this matter over the last two years.

“The Cabinet accepted her recommendations today and I’d like to give her the opportunity to outline them in detail at 3pm when she’s able to do so.”

Related: Magdalene laundries victims fear officials want to limit compensation (Ellen Coyne, Times Ireland edition)

Earlier: ‘The Taoiseach Reflected The Need To Respond Now With Action, Rather Than Words’

Yesterday: ‘The Only Acceptable Outcome Is The Immediate Convening Of An Inquest Into The Deaths Of All The Children’

This morning.

In the Dáil.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone was asked by Sinn Féin TD Denise Mitchell about her department’s scoping exercise into illegal adoptions being carried out – which was announced in May.

Ms Mitchell asked Ms Zappone to outline the number of records being examined by Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland as part of her scoping exercise and the progress on it.

Ms Zappone said there are approximately 150,000 adoption records in existence and, of these, 100,000 are in possession of the State – Tusla or the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

She said the sample of adoptions being investigated has been taken from this 100,000 but she didn’t specifically state how many records are being examined.

She said issues regarding data protection and GDPR rules have arisen and so the estimated time for the independent reviewer’s report to be delivered has been extended until mid-December.

Later, Ms Mitchell, who raised the work of the Irish Examiner’s Conall Ó Fátharta on the matter, said asked Ms Zappone if she would commit to holding an investigation into all adoption records and commit to seizing records not in the State’s possession.

She added:

“Recent media reports suggested that much of this documentation has been in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for years. So, minister, I want to ask you, if this information has been in this department for years, why has it taken so long to initiate an investigation?”

Ms Zappone, in her reply said she was “deeply concerned about the issue of illegal registrations” and is in regular contact with people who have been adopted and their advocates.

She said:

“It’s true that the adoption authority has previously spoken publicly about cases on its files where it suspects there to have been an illegal registration but, so far, it has not had sufficient information on file to confirm them.

“As I said in my press statement of the 29th of May, it is examining these unconfirmed cases further, to see if any further facts can be established. But it’s really difficult to prove these cases in the absence of good records.

“If the AAI, following this validation exercise,  reaches the high level of certainty that I have spoken of, these cases will be added to the 126 that have already been confirmed and announced by me. “

Ms Zappone told Ms Mitchell that she also reads the Irish Examiner and is aware of the work of Mr Ó Fátharta and other journalists on the subject.

Watch back here

Related: Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone under fire over adoption records (Conall Ó Fátharta, August 2018)

 

From top: Minister Katherine Zappone with Pope Francis at Áras an Uachtaráin on Saturday; Historian Catherine Corless (right) joins Tuam Survivors, including  Peter Mulryan, of the Tuam Survivors’ Network (third right), at a march through Tuam, County Galway on Sunday.

Yesterday, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone released the copy of a letter she gave to Pope Francis regarding the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and her hope that the Vatican will pay for the costs for the exhumation of the mass grave.

Via the Tuam Survivors’ Network

‘The publication of a letter, by Katherine Zappone, which she handed to the Pope is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

She writes in the preamble to that letter: I am the Minister responsible for the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. This is of course an absurd statement.

Ms Zappone is merely the Minister to which the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is to report. In a different country, such a Commission would be reporting to a Justice Minister.

What Minister Zappone has been responsible for more than two years, is a dishonest exercise in respect of the Tuam pit, which has prolonged the agony of survivors and those whose relatives may be buried there, by standing in the way of an exhumation.

In the course of her letter to the Pope, she attempts to maintain the myth that she with her Cabinet colleagues can decide the future of the mass grave at Tuam.

To be clear once more, the only office-holder with jurisdiction over the mass grave at Tuam is the local Coroner.

Where a Coroner fails to convene an Inquest, the Attorney General has under s24 of the Coroners Act 1961, the power indeed obligation, to appoint another Coroner to do so.

Neither the previous Attorney General Maire Whelan nor the current incumbent Seamus Woulfe, have fulfilled their obligations to do so.

Minister Zappone has sat in Cabinet with both and cannot be unaware of the position.

Yet in the warmest and driest summer for forty years in which an exhumation of the Tuam children could have been speedily accomplished, she has clung to a position which is both vile and dishonest.

She writes to the Pope expressing the hope that the ‘church’ should ‘contribute substantially’ to the cost of whatever option is decided by the government.

To repeat, government does not have the power to make such a decision. There is no option, other than to convene an Inquest and complete an exhumation.

Those responsible are the Bon Secours Order, not merely the largest private health provider in Ireland, but probably the world.

Can the Minister produce a single piece of correspondence between her or her office, written to the Bon Secours Order, since she became Minister, pointing out their obligations to them?

In all, her letter to the Pope smacks of a stunt, a desperate attempt by a Minister completely out of her depth, to try and regain a grain of personal and political credibility. It fails miserably.’

A statement from the Tuam Survivors’ Network

Tuam Survivors’ Network

Revealed: What Katherine Zappone said in letter to Pope Francis on Tuam scandal (Kevin Doyle, Independent.ie)

Yesterday: ‘Her Department Knew About Infant Mortality, Concerns About Illegal Adoptions And Trafficking In 2012’

On Saturday.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone spoke with Pope Francis briefly at Áras an Uachtaráin (top).

This morning, she was interviewed by Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio One (above) and recounted that she said to him:

“Pope Francis, I am responsible for the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Children’s remains were found in a sewage system there. I hope the church will make reparation for its part in this shameful chapter. It is important and I will write to you in detail.”

Ms Zappone has since published on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs website what she wrote to Pope Francis.

The website states Ms Zappone wrote:

Dear Pope Francis,

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and an Independent Minister of the Government of Ireland I am writing to you in the hope that the church will accept its responsibilities and make reparation for its part in a very shameful chapter of Irish history.

Mother and Baby Homes came to public attention in Ireland during the summer of 2014 following a series of disturbing reports of high mortality rates and claims of possible burials of children on the grounds of a former home in Tuam Co Galway. The then Government decided to have these matters investigated and a statutory Commission of Investigation was established in February 2015.

The Commission has been examining a wide range of concerns related to the institutional care of unmarried mothers and their babies during the period 1922 to 1998. The Commission is examining 14 Mother and Baby Homes and 4 County Homes. It will in time provide a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in these institutions; how they came to be there; and the pathways they took as they left.

An early focus of the Commission’s work was to examine the Tuam site to address questions about the alleged internment of human remains. As part of this process, the Commission conducted a series of surveys and test excavations, commencing in October 2016. I visited the site myself and met former residents and relatives shortly before these works commenced.

The statutory Commission of Investigation confirmed the presence of human remains on the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. The Home was run by the Bon Secours Sisters from 1925-1961 in what was previously a workhouse dating back to famine times. In the 1970’s the former home was demolished to make way for a local authority housing estate. A small memorial garden is maintained by local residents and there is also a children’s playground on the site.

The Commission’s excavations have revealed that human remains are visible in a series of chambers that may have formed part of sewage treatment works for the Home. The Commission believes that there are a significant number of children’s remains there. It recovered some juvenile remains for detailed forensic analysis. From this analysis, it has determined that the remains are between 35 foetal weeks and 2 to 3 years of age. From carbon dating it has correlated the age of these samples with the time period during which the home was in operation – between 1925 and 1961.

This news was met with widespread disgust both in Ireland and abroad. There were suspicions about burials of this kind in Tuam for some time.. However, it is fair to say that the confirmation received from the Commission of Investigation caused many people to demand that dignity and respect be afforded to the memory of the children who lived their short lives in this Home. We also owe it to the families of these children to now do the right thing by their loved ones.

We have now put in place a series of actions to ensure that we have an appropriate and respectful response to the discovery.

Since then, I have instructed an expert team to do further work on the site to determine the options that are open to us to fulfil our duty to these children. The team has reported offering options including a complete excavation of the site and DNA analysis of the hundreds of remains contained therein.

A consultation has also been carried out with survivors and local residents about what they would like to see happen on the site in Tuam.

There was little compassion shown to children and their mothers in this home.

We cannot change what happened to them. For the little ones whose remains are in a sewage system, we owe them dignity in death. For their mothers, siblings and families we need to give them some peace.

It is my strong conviction that given the role of the Church in this shameful chapter of recent Irish history it must play a practical role in addressing the hurt and damage. I believe that the church should contribute substantially to the cost of whatever option is decided by the government. This should be done willingly, unconditionally and quickly. Nothing less will demonstrate remorse.

I look forward to receiving your response.

With every best wish, sincerely yours,

Dr Katherine Zappone, TD
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Meanwhile…

Journalist Conall Ó Fátharta, of the Irish Examiner, has tweeted the following…

Conall Ó Fátharta

Minister Zappone’s Remarks to Pope Francis at Áras an Uachtaráin (Department of Children and Youth Affairs)

Previously: Open The Files

Top pic: Conor Ó Mearáin



Top from left: Professor Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, Cormac Quinlan, Director of Transformation and Policy, at a news conference in Government Buildings today about the 126 cases where births were incorrectly registered between 1946 and 1969.

This afternoon.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said that following an initial examination of around 13,500 records from St Patrick’s Guild, Tusla was able to identify the incorrect registrations because, unusually, there was a marker specifying “adopted from birth” on the record.

The minister said further cases may emerge and in some of the 129 cases these people may not know they were adopted.

She said there is no record for 79 of them ever contacting the adoption society, while 31 were in contact but may not be fully aware of the illegal registration.

Tusla will now contact people in the 126 cases according to the minister because “people have a right to know who they are”.

[Incorrect or ‘false’ registrations occur where a child is placed with a couple or individual who was not the parent, but the birth is then registered as if the child had been born to that couple or individual]

126 people identified as having had births incorrectly registered by adoption agency (RTÉ)

Rollingnews

Update:

Via The Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS):

The Government admitted today they have just “discovered’ dozens or false birth registrations in the Saint Patrick’s Guild adoption agency files.

Once again, this is just the tip of a very large iceberg of fraud, forgery, baby trafficking, child abduction and criminal activity by rogue Irish adoption agencies who have destroyed tens of thousands of innocent peoples’ lives.

It’s important to note that the Government has known all about this for more than 20 years when Alan Shatter and Francis Fitzgerald as opposition TDs, in the Dáil, made detailed speeches about illegal practices in adoption agencies and named Saint Patrick’s Guild.

Shatter and Fitzgerald both went on to become Ministers for Justice and yet never lifted a finger while in office. Francis Fitzgerald was also a former social worker and Minister for Children with direct responsibility for these matters, and yet did nothing in office despite constant demands to take urgent action.

It is also important to note that the adoption community has been calling for an audit of Saint Patrick’s Guild files, and other agencies, for over 20 years.

Government after government have willfully ignored such calls while adoptees have died by the thousands.

Perhaps the most vital issue here is that illegally adopted people have spent generations going to their Doctors and hospitals and unknowingly giving false – and potentially lethal – family medical histories that do not in fact relate to them. Illegal adoptees carry on this practice for their children and even their grandchildren.

Theresa Hiney who founded the ‘Adopted Illegally Ireland’ group in 2008, has been a voice in the wilderness loudly demanding immediate action for more than 10 years and has been ignored by officialdom who are terrified of what audits of the adoption agencies will reveal.

Clare Daly T. has tackled successive Governments on these issues in the Dáil since 2012 and has been rebuffed and sneered at by a one Minister after another who have refused to take action.

Daly has been proved the only TD who could see the injustice and campaigned with the adoption and survivor communities while everyone else ran and hid.

The survivor and adoptee communities demand IMMEDIATE ACTION to tackle this issue. Theresa Hiney, ‘Adopted Illegally Ireland’, and the ‘Coalition of Mother And Baby homes Survivors’ renew our years old joint call for a dedicated unit made up of civil servants, Gardai and social workers, to actively investigate this matter and inform illegal adoptees of their status.

CMABS notes the Gardai have been sent in. A through, well resourced, and full criminal investigation needs to follow as a matter of urgency.”

CMABS (Facebook)

Thanks Paul Redmond

From top: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone in the Dáil on June 1, 2017; UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff

Last June.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone made a statement in the Dáil on the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation.

Ms Zappone said she had appointed forensic archaeologist Niamh McCullagh, who carried out the preliminary excavations at the former Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, to lead a team of international experts to advise the commission.

Ms Zappone said:

 “I sometimes wonder, if I’m around in 2027 or 2037, what will they say, on Reeling In The Years about 2017. Will it be the year 2017, that the international media descended on Tuam as we, once again, declared our outrage at past deeds.

Or will it be a year where we faced up, womaned up and maned up and decided that we will do things better. This is a defining moment for us.”

Further to her previously announced idea of establishing some kind of a truth commission, Ms Zappone also said she would be inviting the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff, from Columbia, to Ireland.

She said

“I am asking my Government colleagues to support me in inviting the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, to visit Ireland.

Dr de Greiff has extensive experience and insights which I believe will help me as a Minister and us as a Government to promote truth, justice and reparation, as he has done with a wide range of other governments. He could help ensure we are taking the right approach in terms of our response into the future.”

On December 12, 2017, Ms Zappone told the Seanad:

“In addition, in recognition of Ireland’s absolute commitment to human rights, the Government has decided to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Mr. Pablo de Greiff, to visit Ireland. I will work with my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, to arrange this invitation.”

On January 24, 2018, Ms Zappone, in a written answer to Sinn Féin TD Denise Mitchell, stated:

“…the Government has agreed to invite Mr. Pablo de Greiff, UN Special Rapporteur, to assist Ireland in our response to issues related to former Mother and Baby homes and I am working with my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to arrange this invitation.”

On February 13, 2018, Ms Zappone told the Dáil:

I have previously relayed my commitment to the House to inviting the UN special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Mr. Pablo de Greiff, to come to Ireland. I believe he can assist us in our endeavours to establish the truth and advise us on how best to move forward and deal with this part of our history. Arrangements are at an advanced stage and I expect an invitation to be issued to Mr. de Greiff in the coming days.

Fintan Dunne writes:

Guess when Dr de Greiff reaches the end of his term as Special Rapporteur?

Pablo de Greiff was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council… in 2012.

He was renewed in 2015 and will hold the position until May 2018.”

May 2018 is a mere week away!!

Fintan Dunne

Previously: ‘Will It Be A Year Where We Womaned Up?’

‘I Have Had Grown Men Cry In My Presence’


Oh.

This afternoon.

Pro-life activists highlight Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s apparent interest in witchcraft and the teachings of ‘Starhawk’ drawn from Ms Zappone’s 1991 book The Hope For Wholeness.

Anyone?

Maybe it was just for a spell.

Spell.

Suit yourselves.

Previously: Fly, My Pretties

Starhawk?

Images via Emma Murphy


From top: Minister for Children Affairs Katherine Zappone; Tuam; Options from the Expert Technical Group

This afternoon.

Following a leak in this morning’s Irish Times, The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone has published the Report of the Expert Technical Group (ETG) into the mass grave found at the former Mother and Baby Home, Tuam, Co. Galway.

Minister Zappone said.

“The Report identifies five possible options [see above] for managing the site and appropriately responding to the discovery of infant remains interred at this location.

The Report will now be shared widely and Galway County Council will facilitate a structured consultation process with a strong focus around Tuam.

“I want to ensure that whatever action is taken respects the memory and dignity of those who are buried there and takes account of the concerns and wishes of all who are affected, whether as former residents of thehome, relatives of those who may be buried there, or as local residents who live near the site”

Zappone urges cooperation on future of Tuam site (RTÉ)

Rollingnews