Yesterday’s Irish Mail On Sunday
He lived in the shadow of the Long Fellow.
But was he Mr Big?
Sibling of Daedalus writes:
Yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday published a letter from the late Eamon de Valera, Professor of Gynaecology, University College Dublin showing him to have been involved in the illegal adoption of babies in the 1960s, such adoption having taken place by way of the issue of a birth certificate in the name of the adoptive parents.
The practice of adoption by falsified birth certificates was discussed by Mike Milotte’ in his book ‘Banished Babies‘, (New Island) in which he records the garda investigation and subsequent prosecution,in 1965, of Mary Keating, proprietress of St Rita’s Nursing Home Donnybrook, Dublin 4 for falsely registering the birth of a baby in her care.
According to Milotte, the original focus of the investigation was not just Mrs Keating, but her kingpin:
“[The Gardai] had their sights on a man whom they believed to be behind a major baby selling racket that had gone on undetected for a number of years, and that had involved the illegal dispatch of many babies to America. The man, who had a public profile, was never charged with any offence, although it was always suspected that it was he, and not Mrs Keating, who was the principal beneficiary of the scam.
Several senior police officers were involved in the investigation, but when the file was eventually sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions he decided to prosecute only Mrs Keating for her role in forging the official birth register. When her trial took place before Justice Farrell in the Dublin District Court in January 1965… the prosecution offered no evidence of financial dealings, and there wasn’t a hint in court of the bigger picture or of the man who was behind the racket…. Mrs Keating pleaded guilty and the proceedings ended quickly… Despite the acknowledged gravity of the offence, she was put on probation… A Mrs Keating kept her licence and remained profitably in business until she retired more than a decade later… and ‘Mr Big’ lived a long, respectable and prosperous life.”
Mrs Keating was clearly well-connected. Declan Costello, future Attorney-General, appeared for her her trial, and Karl Mullen, gynaecologist, rugby star and grandfather of Cian and Pippa O’Connor, gave evidence of her good character.
Although many children of unmarried mothers were adopted in the 1960s, with and without the help of gynaecologists, St Rita’s adoptions were unique, or almost unique, in offering the adoptive parents a birth certificate in their own names.
Was the child the subject of the Irish Mail on Sunday article born at St Rita’s? And, if so, what was Professor de Valera’s association with this institution?
Milotte also reports an anecdotal statement by Charles Haughey that ‘half the children born at St Rita’s were fathered by members of the Dail’, stating :
“It might explain why the identities of so many of Mrs Keating’s ‘girls’ were obliterated through the issuing of false birth certificates, why she was so keen to dispatch their children to America, and why she was so willing to plead guilty to a very grave offence, protecting the man who was masterminding the whole business in the process.”
Read Sibling of Daedalus’ and newly-updated Irish history blog here.
(Mail on Sunday)