Tag Archives: Katherine Zappone

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

This morning.

Conall Ó Fátharta of The Irish Examiner has obtained a copy of a report by the Collaborative Forum on Mother and Baby Homes, set up last year by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone.

The forum presented its report to Ms Zappone last December but she has declined to publish it citing advice from the Attorney General.

Via The Irish Examiner:

In a lengthy section on information and identity rights, the report states that Tusla representatives informed it that it assesses the likelihood of harm being caused to wider birth families by the release of personal information to an applicant.

In exchanges with the forum, Tusla representatives indicated that identity and personal information applications are assessed in part by reference to the level of harm acceding to such requests may cause,” states the report. “Neither the statutory basis for such a criterion, nor the nature of how harm is determined, was clear to forum members.”

The forum states its belief that since Tusla began taking ownership of the files of former adoption agencies in 2014, it has been pursuing “a practice of withholding identity and personal information from applicants detained as children across various institutions on the basis that to release this information, could cause harm to the wider family members of the applicant”.

In a statement, Tusla said that in the absence of any specific legislation to regulate information and tracing services, it can only “lawfully release information relating to other persons [e.g. birth parents] with their expressed consent.”

Tusla considers damage release of personal information can cause (Irish Examiner)

Rollingnews

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Zappone said she had listened to the concerns of adopted people and the changes, in her view, balance the right to privacy with the right to identity.

The new law, which will move to the committee stage in the Seanad today, has been delayed because of concerns about the privacy of natural or birth parents in cases where an adopted person is looking for information.

It is now proposed that the child and family agency Tusla would contact birth parents in relation to any request for information and, if they object to its release, the Adoption Authority of Ireland would make a decision.

Zappone – Adoption law giving access to records ‘a step forward’ (RTÉ)

Mairead Enright writes:

It is not at all clear how adopted people’s rights will be safeguarded by the above process, especially given Tusla’s poor history

This proposal is completely out of step with European norms. It is also a disproportionate measure which assumes adopted people are a “threat” to their natural parents’ wellbeing.

Once the new legislation is passed, the Attorney General is proposing that people adopted in future should have automatic access to their full file once they reach adulthood.

So these are discriminatory provisions affecting people adopted in the era of the laundries and the Mother and Baby Homes.

Together with proposals under the Retention of Records Bill 2019, which will seal testimonies of records of child abuse for 75 years, this legislation shows that the state is not willing to face up to the past.

If anything, this imposition of state control reinscribes the shaming and silencing mechanisms used against natural mothers under Ireland’s regime of forced (and often illegal) adoption.

People must have access, at a minimum, to their unredacted early life records *and* to their birth certs (which are already public records).

Natural mothers should also be able to access their state records.

Amendments to the Bill could also be used to establish meaningful information, matching and tracing services and an independent archive of relevant records.

There is a lot more wrong with the Bill, but the basic assumption that this category of adopted people should be quarantined in this way is highly objectionable and should be resisted.

Oh and before the AG says “but the Constitution”, there is no absolute constitutional right to anonymity. The right to privacy of natural mothers must be balanced against the right to identity.

And anyway framing this as “mothers vs adopted people” isn’t the point. Adults are capable of navigating this information regime, and the state should assist them to do so, not continue to frustrate them.

Meanwhile…

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

This afternoon.

Minister for Children and Youth Affair Katherine Zappone has announced a series of measures in response to a report of the Collaborative Forum for Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes and Related Institutions.

These will include much sought-after amendments to the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill.

Via The Department of Children Affairs:

The Minister has secured Government approval to amend provisions of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill to provide for the greatest possible release of birth information to adopted persons and to other relevant persons, consistent with the legal and constitutional framework.

Amendments to the provisions of the Bill dealing with the privacy of birth parents are currently being drafted which will seek to remove the requirement for an undertaking to be signed by the person seeking their birth information.

The Minister also intends to bring forward amendments at Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann to provide a copy of the birth cert, where this is available on the files in State custody, to an applicant.

The Minister will develop a series of measures including the establishment of a scheme to fund permanent memorials in the locality of mother and baby institutions, provision of financial support to survivor-led groups for annual commemoration events, and a working group to develop a national memorial that commemorates, respects and honours mothers and children held in these Institutions.

A living memorial in digital, audio or visual presentation of information and individual narratives, will be developed to serve to support the historic preservation of this long episode in our country‘s history.

Language and terminology is important, and the Forum recommended the establishment of an expert group which would help replace the often derogatory labels which stigmatised those affected. The Minister will consult the Irish Research Council on how best to put together an appropriate research group for this purpose.

Previously: Betrayed Again

Thanks Bebe

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

Tomorrow.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone is expected to bring two reports concerning the Mother and Baby Home Commission to Cabinet tomorrow – to seek its approval to publish them.

The reports are the a) Recommendations from the First Report from the Collaborative Forum for Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes and Related Institutions and b) the Fifth Interim Report of the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters).

The Fifth Interim report is expected to focus on burial arrangements made for women and children who died while living in the institutions under the commission’s remit.

It’s also expected to include technical reports prepared on the burial site associated with the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway and the commission’s assessment of burial arrangements at the other institutions within its remit.

The institutions are: Ard Mhuire, Dunboyne, Co Meath; Belmont (Flatlets), Belmont Ave, Dublin 4; Bessboro House, Blackrock, Cork; Bethany Home, originally Blackhall Place, Dublin 7 and from 1934 Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6; Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, Tuam, Co. Galway; Denny House, Eglinton Rd, Dublin 4, originally Magdalen Home, 8 Lower Leeson St, Dublin 2; Kilrush, Cooraclare Rd, Co Clare; Manor House, Castlepollard, Co Westmeath; Ms Carr’s (Flatlets), 16 Northbrook Rd, Dublin 6; Regina Coeli Hostel, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7; Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Co Tipperary; St. Gerard’s, originally 39, Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1; St. Patrick’s, Navan Road, Dublin 7, originally known as Pelletstown; and subsequent transfer to Eglinton House, Eglinton Rd, Dublin 4, and The Castle, Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal.

The four county homes under its remit are: St Kevin’s Institution (Dublin Union); Stranorlar County Home, Co Donegal (St Joseph’s); Cork City County Home (St Finbarr’s); and Thomastown County Home, Co Kilkenny (St Columba’s).

Previously: ‘Delay, Obfuscation And The Blurring Of Boundaries’

‘One Of The Lowest, Dirtiest, Most Mean Spirited Political Tricks’

Thanks Bebe

At the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam; Minister for Children Katherine Zappone; Sr Marie Ryan, of the Bon Secours in Ireland

Yesterday.

Right to Know journalist Ken Foxe published a “strictly private and confidential” letter sent from the leader of the Bon Secours in Ireland Sr Marie Ryan  to the Minister of Children Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone last August.

The letter concerned the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway, where the State issued 796 death certificates for children but burial records only for two.

The home closed in 1961.

The letter to the minister was written in response to Ms Zappone asking to meet with members of the order so they could discuss the Tuam home and how the order could share, with the State, the “cost implications” of the current investigations at the home after “significant quantities of human remains” were confirmed to have been found at the home two years ago.

Sr Ryan, on behalf of the nuns, told Ms Zappone they were surprised she asked to meet with them while the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is ongoing.

The nun then went on to firmly state that the Tuam home was operated on behalf of the Irish Government.

Sr Ryan wrote:

“This was an institution created and operated by the Irish state.”

“Given the passage of time, it certainly appears to us, that the Home was not only under the stewardship of the Sisters at that time but under the supervision, direction and inspection of the local authority Galway County Council and also the Department of Health.”

She also said after the home closed in 1961, the nuns sent “all documentation” and “official Home Records” to Galway County Council and that the nuns haven’t had “full and open access” to these records which are now with the commission.

She said it seems Galway County Council were involved in paying for a doctor and a chaplain at the home and that Department of Health inspectors inspected the home.

Sr Ryan added:

“The deaths of the infants were registered at that time and it would seem to us that it would follow that Galway County Council, the Department of Health and the doctor employed by the local authority for the Home would have been fully aware of the fact of these deaths and no doubt then would have been aware that burial arrangements would have to be made for the remains.”

Mr Foxe tweeted the following on the correspondence:

Right To Know

Previously: The Wages Of Spin

Our Worst Fears

Yesterday, The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone announced that she ‘had secured Government approval’ to draft amendments to revise the privacy provisions in the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016.

The Bill as published requires applicants for birth information to…

‘..sign an undertaking, in certain circumstances, that they will not contact the birth parent. It also allows birth parents to invoke compelling reasons as to why their information should not be released, where such release would be likely to endanger their lives’.

The revised bill will:

‘Include the undertaking, and will provides for contact with all birth parents to ascertain whether they have any objection to the birth information being released.

Where the parent does not consent to the release of the information, there will be an opportunity for both parties to make their case before the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

The Authority will make a determination in the case, against a range of criteria by reference to Supreme Court jurisprudence. There will be an appeal from the decision to the Circuit Court.’

Dr Zappoone said:

The provisions in the Bill in relation to release of birth information are very serious and complex. We must balance the competing rights to identity with the right to privacy, in certain circumstances. I believe that people have the right to know of their true origins but we are also required to protect vulnerable birth parents.

I believe the scheme for which I got approval today is a reasonable compromise in all the circumstances, and I hope all stakeholders will support the proposal, so this legislation can be enacted as quickly as possible.”

Minister Zappone said she had listened to “Members of the Oireachtas, stakeholders and lobby groups ” and engaged again with the Office of the Attorney General “to revisit the privacy provisions and strengthen the right to identity”.

Paul Redmond, of The Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS), writes:

Zappone’s new amendment makes this a “mother dearest” Bill, meaning that adoptee’s have been stripped of all rights to their original birth certificates and their files including their medical records: meanwhile natural mothers have been given all the rights as they must be asked for their permission before anything can be released to an adoptee.

This is not what our community was promised nor anything close to it. It is a backwards step and a gross betrayal of a vulnerable and aging community who have already suffered enough without having to endure the nightmare of having Minister Zappone inflicted on us.

While the old version of the Bill was not perfect by any means, and any Bill at all would have split our community in some way as there are always small splinter groups, at least the old Bill gave adopted people actual rights for the first time in the history of Ireland.

Now Minister Zappone has torn even the possibility of rights away from us.

That this treachery is dressed up as something positive is yet another act of bad faith and dishonesty by Katherine Zappone who needs to resign at once and allow a competent person without a personal agenda to do the job she refuses to do.

Zappone’s story about fighting with the Attorney General has a very hollow and suspicious ring about it and CMABS calls on the Minister to publish the legal advice from the Attorney General forthwith.

The practical aspects of this new Bill are a recipe for an expensive, wasteful, bureaucratic mess. Before an adoptee’s mother can even be asked for her permission, she must be tracked down. There are currently waiting lists for tracing of up to two years and this is going to be far worse.

This betrayal must be reversed by Minister Zappone at once.”

Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors

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

Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary

This afternoon.

The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation has announced it will carry out a “geophysical survey” of a children’s burial ground at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Co Tipperary – which was a mother and baby home from 1930 to 1970.

This will begin tomorrow and is expected to take one day.

[According to Mike Millotte’s Banished Babies, 438 babies were secretly exported from Sean Ross Abbey to the US for adoption.]

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone told RTÉ’s News At One that the MBHCI received “new information from a member of the public in relation to the burial grounds” at Sean Ross before Christmas.

She also confirmed that Cabinet has approved a request from the MBHCI for an extension of a year before publishing its final report.

Survivors, family members and supporters of people who lived in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway first became aware of this request for an extension via a report in The Irish Times on January 9.

The extension means the final report will be published in February 2020.

Ms Zappone also said the commission has said it will publish an interim report on March 15 “on burials for all of the institutions that they are investigating”.

On News At One, journalist Aine Lawlor asked Ms Zappone about the exclusion of survivors of Bethany Home from the State redress scheme.

Ms Lawlor put to Ms Zappone that any delay in including the Bethany Home survivors “compounds the injustice being done to elderly people at this state, time is not on their side”.

Ms Zappone said:

“Yes, I deeply appreciate those views that are being expressed. I am aware of that. May I say that, in relation to the Bethany Home, of course, I think many are aware, there was a decision made not to extend the original redress scheme to them, subsequent to the Ryan Report.

“That decision is being reviewed by a number of, on a number of occasions, by a previous Governments. My own Government looked at it again and ultimately decided that we needed to wait in order to have the final reports from the Mother and Baby Home Commission.”

Ms Lawlor put it to Ms Zappone that the survivors of Bethany Homes “don’t have a year to play with”.

Ms Zappone said:

“Again, I’m fully aware of that Aine, because I have met many of these people. I aware of the recommendation of the commission. At the same time, they have not provided us with a report in terms of findings of, final findings of abuse or neglect.

“And so we decided that it was not appropriate to deal with redress…but on the basis of that decision, I did move forward and establish a collaborative forum of representative stakeholders across all of the mother and baby homes to see what kind of supports maybe we could provide to former residents in relation, while we are waiting for the final findings of the commission.”

Meanwhile…

Ms Zappone has delivered a fourth interim report from the commission to Cabinet today and it states that the commission’s confidential committee has met with 519 former residents or other people connected to the institutions under investigation.

Meetings were not only held across Ireland but also in Birmingham, Manchester and London, while 26 people are still waiting to be heard – including residents in the US who will speak to the committee via Skype.

The commission is also arranging to have affidavits sworn in some cases.

The fourth report also states that “considerable work remains to be done to cross reference” the information the commission has regarding registers of entry, exit, birth and death.

The report notes that the commission has received “extensive material” from the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs but the commission “only recently received the bulk of this material and further material is in the process of being provided”.

It also states that the commission is “painstakingly analysing” more than 100,000 pages it has received in discovery from the two departments and cross referencing them with records maintained in the institutions.

The first tranche of discovery consisted over more than 12,000 pages in March 2017; more than 54,000 pages in March 2018; 36,000 pages in June 2018, while the commission learned in November 2018 that 277 more relevant files – likely to run to “many thousands of pages” – are also available.

The report also says the commission is “dismayed” by the documentation it has received from the HSE.

It states:

“The Commission acknowledges the efforts made by the HSE staff to find relevant documentation but it is dismayed that so little has been found. It is clear that the HSE does not have any system, much less a proper system, of storing and archiving material.”

It adds:

“It is difficult to understand how relatively recent documentation is not available. For example, the North Western Health Board, and subsequently the HSE, was intensively involved in the running of one of the institutions under investigation – The Castle, Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal. This opened in 1984 and closed in 2006. The HSE has been unable to provide any documentation on its involvement with this institution.”

Listen back to Ms Zappone on RTE Radio One in full here

Thanks Breeda

Report in The Irish Times on Wednesday, January 9; Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone; debate in the Dáil last Thursday

On Wednesday, January 9 last, the Religious Affairs Correspondent for The Irish Times Patsy McGarry reported that the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation was to seek an extension of a year before publishing its final report which was due in February.

The report took survivors, family members and supporters of people who lived in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home by surprise.

Following on from the report in The Irish Times, Broadsheet contacted the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on January 9 and asked a spokesman to confirm if The Irish Times article was correct; if it was, to set out the reasons for the seeking of an extension; to outline when the MBHCI made the request for an extension of Government; and to explain when the survivors/survivors’ groups were informed of the request.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s department responded at 5.45pm that evening, essentially confirming The Irish Times article, but without answering the other specific questions, stating:

“The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes has written to the Minister to seek an extension to the time frame for delivering its final reports. The Minister is considering the request and will meet the Commission next week to discuss it further.

“The Minister will then respond to the request in consultation with her cabinet colleagues.

“The Minister has given a commitment to interested parties to communicate any updates in relation to the Mother and Baby Home issue in as timely a manner as possible.

“The Minister will use existing channels to communicate
with interested parties, including survivors and their advocates in advance of any public statements on this matter.”

Yet, when the matter was raised with Minister Zappone in the Dáil last Thursday evening by Galway West Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Dublin Fingal Independent TD Clare Daly, and Dublin South Central Independent TD Joan Collins, Ms Zappone said “the coverage was misleading”.

She also eventually confirmed, after being asked several times, that she had received the request from the commission in December.

Ms Collins said:

“I ask the Minister to correct me if I am wrong, but my information is that the report was finalised in early December last and had been sent to the Attorney General pending transmission to the Minister and the Cabinet.

“I have also been informed that more files from the HSE have emerged which is why, potentially, a further delay is being sought by the commission.

Survivors have been waiting anxiously for this report, as the Minister knows, and have been physically and emotionally shattered by the announcement in last week’s newspaper. It was a cold and calculated way to inform survivors and their families.

Some survivors in their 70s and 80s were outside the gates of Leinster House yesterday. They were cold and they were angry. It was a disgraceful way to treat these ageing people. Their rights and justice are being denied. Will the Minister please explain exactly what is happening and set out why there was no early warning of the proposed delay? These people are losing confidence in the Minister and her Government and in the commission.”

Ms Daly said:

“The request for a second extension from the commission is the last straw for many of us here and certainly for many of the survivors. The request should be refused.

“I am very curious to hear what the Minister’s attitude is and what level of warning she was given by the commission that this bombshell would drop a year almost after the last extension was granted. Many felt it was a step too far even then yet a year on, here we are.

“It is jaw-dropping to have a scenario in which four years later, we have had three interim reports comprising fewer than 40 pages between them. Of those interim reports, two sought more time while another focused on process. There have been no details and no findings and we must ask what in God’s name is going on in this gathering.

“As Deputy Joan Collins said, a suspicious person might wonder if things were being done in this manner so the community dies off.

The fact that they had to hear this as they did via a newspaper leak has caused more insult to them. In many ways, the process is as important as the outcome. The process here has been an abysmal failure and it has retraumatised many of the survivors.

“I do not necessarily blame the Minister and certainly not before we hear what she has to say. I assume she got the information. It is important for her to tell the House when she got it and whether it was flagged. If it was not flagged to her, why did the commission wait until the 11th hour? If it was flagged and everyone knew, why was it done like this? This is devastating and we need clarity around it. My attitude is that the request should be refused. It is too much.”

Ms Connolly said:

“Has the commission of investigation asked for an extension of time? If so, when was the request made, how was it made and how long has the Minister known?

“…From day one, there was confusion and delay. The third report asked for extension of time. While it caused real upset then, people accepted the assurance that the report would be published in February of this year.

“…Subsequent to what we found out in Patsy McGarry’s newspaper report earlier this month, it was claimed on the Department’s website that “reports in the media did not come from this Department and the speculation contained in these reports is inaccurate”.

“What specific inaccuracies are there? Has an extension been sought? If so, when and why was it sought? I will await the Minister’s answer before I give my opinion.”

In her response, Ms Zappone said:

“The scope of the investigation is broad. It was acknowledged at the outset that the timeframe was ambitious. I received the fourth interim report in December 2018. I met the chair of the commission, Judge Yvonne Murphy, last week to discuss the request for the extension of the timeframe for the delivery of the commission’s reports and to ensure I had a full understanding of the progress to date and the basis for the additional time being requested.

“I know it is important for the commission to complete this sensitive and complex work as soon as possible… There can be no shortcut to finding the truth.

“The interim report is short. Contrary to what the Deputies have suggested, it is not a proposal. It grounds the request for an extension of the timeframe to deliver the three reports from the commission by one year.

“As the request constitutes a change in the terms of reference of the commission, it is a matter for the Government to consider the request in reflection of its statutory provisions. Government approval is also required to publish the report. With this in mind, I intend to bring a memorandum to the Cabinet.

“I have already circulated a draft of the memorandum to Government Departments. I hope to have it on the agenda next week for discussion. Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, it would not be helpful to speculate on what the Government will decide.

I am conscious that the commentary on this issue in the media last week has caused distress and anxiety for those involved in this process. The coverage was misleading and did not originate from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, as one of the Deputies mentioned.

“I reiterate my commitment to use existing channels to inform stakeholders of any developments in this area in advance of a public notice. I intend to make a public announcement following the Cabinet meeting to clarify the position for them….I will engage with stakeholders ahead of any public announcements. I hope to announce the details of the interim report as soon as possible.”

Ms Collins told Ms Zappone that she still didn’t answer her questions, namely when the commission requested an extension, if it was made at the beginning of December and, if it was, why weren’t the survivors not informed of this request before reading about it in The Irish Times.

Ms Daly said the essence of what was in The Irish Times article was correct – in so far as the final report will be delayed by a year.

She called for a report to be published in February outlining exactly what the commission has done to date, what needs to be done and a timetable of when the work will be done.

Ms Connolly said:

I am afraid I am not so sympathetic. I am holding the Minister to account because her answer is not acceptable. When and how was she approached by the commission in relation to an extension? Why are the grounds for an extension not set out in the Minister’s reply? Why do we not have a copy of the report? The lines that should demarcate who is responsible for what are being blurred.

“An independent commission of inquiry was set up. It has a duty to report in a way that we can see, read and look at. It is not acceptable that the Minister is not telling us where the report is, why we do not have it and what the grounds for the request are. It is ridiculous and utterly unacceptable that she is telling us there are grounds for the request but not telling us what those grounds are or when they were set out.

“The Minister referred to a meeting that took place last week. If there is a shortage of staff, as has been mentioned, we should know about that. If there is a reason the work cannot be completed on time, it should be made known to us in an open and accountable manner. That is the least we deserve in this Dáil so we can represent the people outside who have suffered greatly.

“The Minister knows well that I have attended many of the meetings. The anger on the ground is palpable. There was an absence of trust from day one. I went out on a limb to give the system a chance. Looking back on that, it was rather foolish. Since 2015, we have had nothing but delay, obfuscation and blurring of boundaries. The very least the Minister should do is tell us precisely when the request came and how it came. Regardless of the nature of the report the Minister has, she should publish it.”

It was after this contribution from Ms Connolly that Ms Zappone said the request was made in December.

She said:

“It is an interim report.

“There are procedures in terms of the establishment of the independent commission and the commission has requested an extension for the completion of its work. That request must be presented to Government, which must agree or not to it. Once that has happened, there will be the publishing of the report.

“That is the process and those are the procedures.

“I intend to do that at the next Cabinet meeting. When I have provided my Cabinet colleagues with the rationale for this, in addition to advising them of the discussions I had with Judge Murphy, which I sought as soon as I could subsequent to the presentation of that interim report taking account of the Christmas period, I will engage with my Cabinet colleagues and we will make a decision.

We will let the survivors and those primary stakeholders know. I will publish the report and we will publish our decision. Those are the proper procedures. The Deputies will know then what is the rationale in that regard. I am happy to come back to the House and discuss those issues with them.

“Second, as the Deputies well know, this is an independent commission and therefore there are certain things I can and cannot do. The commission has made this request and laid out its rationale. I am able to talk and have talked to it about that – I have spoken of that – to more deeply understand its rationale in this regard.

“Third, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, I know the Deputies – who represent the people concerned very well – would acknowledge I also am aware of how awful and difficult this news is for these people to receive. I understand that. I will be able to provide the Deputies with the rationale with regard to the response, and my own response specifically to what they have said, next week after I have given that to my Cabinet colleagues.”

Transcript via KildareStreet.com

Previously: ‘A Dishonest Exercise’

January 9, 2015

Then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly (centre) with Michelle Shannon (left) from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Elizabeth Canavan, then Acting Secretary General Department of Children and Youth Affairs at the publication of the Terms of Reference for the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters, to examine the records of and practices at 14 Mother and Baby Homes as well as four county homes….

March 3, 2017

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone (centre) and Assistant Principal, Department of children & Youth Affairs James Gibbs (left),  and Secretary General, Department of Children & Youth Affairs Fergal Lynch announcing a one-year extension to  the Mother and Baby Homes Commission….

January 9, 2019

‘The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is to seek an extension of one year before publishing its final report, which was due next month. The Irish Times understands the request has gone to the Government and is expected to be discussed by the Cabinet next week.’

Mother and baby homes commission seeks extension to finish report (Irish Times)

Rollingnews

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)