St Patrick’s Guild sought €50k from Tusla for adoption records

St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency requested a payment of “at least €50,000” from Tusla before it would transfer the more than 13,000 adoption records it holds.

The agency made the request on numerous occasions throughout 2015 and 2016. It was excluded from the current Mother and Baby Homes Commission despite the Government being told by the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) that the agency was aware of “several hundred” illegal birth registrations.

It ceased operating at the end of 2014 but, due to lengthy negotiations to ensure Tusla were indemnified against any legal action taken by people seeking their records, the files were not transferred until May 2016.

However, it has emerged that the agency had contacted Tusla a number of times throughout 2015 and 2016 seeking a payment of €50,000 before it would agree to transfer any records.

Documents released under Freedom of Information show that Sr Francis Fahy, director of services with St Patrick’s Guild (SPG), wrote to Tusla national manager for adoption Siobhán Mugan in October 2015 requesting an “immediate payment” in regard to almost €48,000 in expenses.

She had previously made a request in April of that year and stated that SPG had not been funded by Tusla since it closed in December 2014, but had continued offering a service to adopted people and natural parents “albeit in a more limited way”.

“It is now a matter of some urgency,” said Sr Fahy.

“At this time I am enclosing an account of the actual expenses to date for 2015 and would be glad to receive an immediate payment in regard of these expenses. If further details are required please let me know. A further sum will be required later as often payments fall due from October until such time as the service and the records are transferred to Tusla.”

The attached expenses from January to September 2015 included almost €10,000 on gas and electricity and phone bills of more than €2,000.

Ms Mugan responded to Sr Fahy stating that when the agency ceased operating there was no agreement with Tusla to continue funding into 2015.

She pointed out that, “in fact, it was agreed that the records would be in the possession of Tusla by late January, early February 2015 at the latest”.

However, Sr Fahy wrote to Tusla again in February of this year stating that it would need a payment of “at least 50,000” before it could transfer anything of the 13,000 adoption files. She pointed out that the agency was preserving and maintaining the records and offering a service on the understanding that its costs would be covered by the State.

“We were given to understand that upon submission of the necessary documentation and accounts funding would be made available to cover the costs incurred during this period,” said Sr Fahy. It was with this understanding that the work was carried out in good faith.

“While every effort has been made to bring the negotiations to a conclusion this has not yet been possible. Therefore, at this time, and as a matter of urgency, it is necessary to request that a payment of at least €50,000 be made prior to the transfer of the records.”

In April, principal officer in the Adoption Policy Unit at Tusla wrote to chief executive of the AAI Patricia Carey expressing concern about the request and fact that the agency had planned to retain copies of index cards containing birth information of adoptees and their natural families.

The AAI agreed to allow the agency hold the cards for three months post transfer of the files to allow it “to complete reports for the Authority”.

In April of this year Tusla agreed to a one of payment of €30,000 to support the storage of the files while the transfer was being negotiated and to assist the agency with its closure.

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St Patrick’s finally hands over 13,500 adoption files to Tusla

More than 13,000 files from St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency have transferred to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency — almost three years after the agency ceased to operate.

The agency held approximately 13,500 adoption files — one quarter of all adoption files in the country. It closed in 2013, with the transfer expected to take between 12 to 18 months.

The Irish Examiner understands that issues around indemnity against any legal action taken by people seeking their records was a significant factor in the transfer delay.

Tusla declined to confirm it had been indemnified in respect of the records but it had “obtained the appropriate protection in respect of known potential issues”.

St Patrick’s Guild has been excluded from the Mother and Baby Homes Commission, despite the Irish Examiner revealing that the government was in 2013 informed that the agency had knowledge of “several hundred” illegal birth registrations.

An Adoption Authority of Ireland delegation told representatives of the Department of Children and the General Register Office in June 2013 that the agency was aware of several hundred cases of illegal birth registrations.

“St Patrick’s Guild are aware of several hundred illegal registrations, but are waiting for people to contact them; they are not seeking the people involved. Must consider how revelations of this sort would affect a family unit,” states a department note of the meeting.

St Patrick’s Guild has hit the headlines on numerous occasions — most notably when this newspaper revealed its role in the illegal adoption of Tressa Reeves’ son.

The agency was criticised by Alan Shatter in the Dáil as far back as 1997, when he hit out at it for having “deliberately misled” people by giving “grossly inaccurate information” to both adopted persons and birth mothers. He said such behaviour by an adoption agency was “almost beyond belief”.

The Government has repeatedly resisted calls by campaigners for an audit of all adoption files held in the State so that the full scale of illegal adoptions and birth registrations can be uncovered.

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said the fact the transfer of files overran significantly showed the “complete indifference” of the Adoption Authority of Ireland and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs towards the rights of adopted people and natural mothers.

“Both bodies are fully aware of the very significant numbers of illegal registrations on the files and, on the back of other scandals around child trafficking to the US, high mortality rates, mass graves, etc, are fearful of the potential scale of this operation becoming known,” she said.

Paul Redmond, chairman of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors, said the agency had been “exposed on numerous occasions” and called on Tusla to carry out a full audit of the files.

“If the HSE or Tulsa find suspicious issues in the files, the gardaí should be called in immediately and no one should be immune, including the nuns,” he said.

Kathy McMahon of the Irish First Mothers group said it was imperative that the Mother and Baby Homes Commission seek Government sanction to include St Patrick’s Guild in its investigation so it can fully audit all the files.

St Patrick’s Guild accredited under 2010 Adoption Act

The very first agency accredited by the Adoption Authority of Ireland under the much heralded Adoption Act 2010 was was St Patrick’s Guild – despite all that is known about its actions. Since this story ran in 2010, it has closed but adopted people are left waiting years for it to transfer its 13,500 files to Tusla. They are being offered no tracing service while they wait. It told the AAI in 2012 (see blog for more on this) it had “several hundred” illegal birth registrations on its books but was not telling the people involved. Guess what? Nobody decided to do anything on

It told the AAI in 2012 (see blog for more on this) it had “several hundred” illegal birth registrations on its books but was not telling the people involved. Guess what? Nobody decided to do anything on foot of this revelation and St Patrick’s Guild was kept out of the Mother and Baby Home inquiry. No reason was given for this exclusion, which beggars belief.

 

A RELIGIOUS-run adoption agency which facilitated a number of illegal adoptions and which exported over 500 “illegitimate” children to the US has been re-accredited by the Adoption Authority.

St Patrick’s Guild was last month accredited to assist adopted people and natural parents through tracing, counselling and mediating.

This is despite the fact that St Patrick’s Guild facilitated the illegal adoption and false birth registration of the son of Tressa Reeves — a case exposed by the Irish Examiner last year.

The agency allowed a couple to take the child without a formal adoption order being made. The couple then falsely registered the child as their own.

In letters to Ms Reeves, the agency admitted it had placed at least one other child in the same way.

Between 1947 and 1967, St Patrick’s Guild also arranged for the export of 572 “illegitimate” children to the US for adoption.

The agency dealt with more than 10,000 adoptions here and holds more than 13,000 files on children who were fostered or adopted.

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said she was “astounded” St Patrick’s Guild had been re-accredited given the volume of complaints levelled at it over a period of decades.

“In our experience, it is one of the most unhelpful adoption agencies to deal with, whether the adoption was illegal or not… We sincerely hope that now St Patrick’s Guild is accredited, they will be submitted to rigorous inspection by the new Adoption Authority.”

In a statement, the Adoption Authority said the decision to accredit St Patrick’s Guild came after “a detailed examination of the body’s current policies, procedures and practices in terms of compliance with the 2010 Act and the Adoption Act 2010 (Accredited Bodies) Regulations 2010”.

 

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/adoption-agency-re-accredited-149734.html