Wed, 03 Mar, 2021 – 21:35
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said Ireland’s illegal adoption scandal is “shocking” and the Government will deal with it in a “caring way”.
In a strong contribution to his parliamentary party meeting, Mr Martin was speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s broadcast on RTÉ television of its investigation into how widespread the practice of illegal adoptions was in the last century.
The programme uncovered new evidence of the involvement of some of Ireland’s most elite and powerful individuals in repeatedly arranging the illegal adoption of babies.
Among them was the son of a President of Ireland, Professor Eamonn de Valera Junior – a Consultant Gynaecologist at Holles St National Maternity Hospital.
The progamme reported that De Valera Junior arranged antenatal appointments for a woman who was not pregnant in order to facilitate an illegal adoption. This was almost a decade after the Adoption Act 1952 came into force.
“They were illegal…they were wrong,” he said. “There will be a full and caring government response to what is revealed,” he said at the meeting ahead of the programme’s broadcast.
“The issue of illegal adoption is shocking. We will ensure those affected are helped and supported. It is critical that they have access to their identity and we are advancing the information tracing legislation as a priority. The heads of the bill are expected at the end of this month,” he told his party colleagues.
At the meeting, Carlow-Kilkenny TD Jennifer Murnane O’Connor criticised the Government’s messaging on the illegal adoptions and Mother and Baby Homes scandals.
Dublin-based Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee also raised the issue of illegal adoptions and cited the case of Susan Kiernan, who featured in the programme. Ms Clifford Lee raised Ms Kiernan’s case in the Seanad some years back.
Dublin-based Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee also raised the issue of illegal adoptions and cited the case of Susan Kiernan, who featured in the programme. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
The party meeting also heard stinging and sustained criticism from leading TDs such as Dara Calleary and Joe Flaherty as to the lack of pace in terms of the vaccine rollout.
Mr Calleary, who has majored on this issue in recent weeks, expressed anger that GPs are only being contacted now about housebound patients, two-months into the process.
He expressed serious concerns about the ability of the HSE to manage community roll-out given the process of vaccinating over 85-year-olds has been so slow and uneven.
He also noted an interview this evening that not all over 85s will be vaccinated by this weekend.
Longford TD Joe Flaherty was also highly critical of the pace of the vaccine rollout. He cited a 90-year-old woman from Drumlish in the county who had a community drive-by but no vaccine.
Junior health ministers Anne Rabbitte and Mary Butler sought to defend the progress made and called on colleagues not to be criticising or tabling parliamentary questions looking for updates.
In his contribution, Mr Martin accepted the criticism and said he was raising the matter with Paul Reid, the HSE CEO.
In the wake of the banking issues this week, Kilkenny TD John McGuinness told the Taoiseach that: “Some Government spokespeople have defended the banks so strongly that the only thing they didn’t do was recommend a few bankers for sainthood.”