Call for truth commission to examine illegal adoptions

The Opposition has called on the Government to set up a truth commission to examine the practice of illegal adoptions following a damning report which found that the State was aware of the issue for decades.

In a new report released on Monday, the special rapporteur for children, Conor O’Mahony, called for a formal State inquiry which adopts a truth commission model. He also said a specialist tracing team should conduct an expedited review of cases where there is a reasonable suspicion of illegal birth registration.

While Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has moved to accept the majority of the 17 recommendations set out in the report, the Government has not yet agreed to establish a truth commission.

Experiences of survivors

A spokesman for the Minister said that, as part of ongoing work, the Government is developing a national records and memorial centre as well as a mechanism to record the experiences of survivors.

“The Government will give consideration to the establishment of a truth commission as part of this wider work.

“In the coming months, the priority will be to deliver the Birth Information and Tracing Bill, which will provide full, unredacted access to birth and early life information for people affected by illegal birth registration, adopted people and anyone with questions as to their origins.”

‘Right to identity’

A source said that while the Government was not “ruling out” such a commission, further time was needed to examine the proposal.

Both Labour Party TD Ivana Bacik and Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion said that a public inquiry was now “imperative”.

Mr O’Mahony’s report found that State authorities in the 1950s and 1960s “consciously turned a blind eye” to the practice and very little had been done since.

The 39-page report concludes that the State was aware of the practice of illegal birth registration for decades before any serious action was taken to investigate and mitigate its effects “and that the action taken to date falls short of remedying the violation of the right to identity for many of those affected”.

He said the “ad hoc, piecemeal and delayed reaction” of the various State bodies “exacerbated the impact of the practice on affected individuals”.

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