While there have been suspicions about the practice of incorrect registrations for many years, it has been extremely difficult to uncover clear evidence of the practice because of the deliberate failure by those involved to keep records. This clear evidence has only been found in the case of the 126 St Patrick’s Guild files that I announced on 29th May last.
On that date I announced that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency had identified 126 cases where births were incorrectly registered between 1946 and 1969. The cases were identified during an analysis of adoption records that were transferred to Tusla by the former adoption society St Patrick’s Guild.
It was during the course of working with these records and in particular the scanning of them that the issue of incorrect birth registrations was identified, with clear evidence of this practice recorded on index cards created and maintained by St Patrick’s Guild. On foot of this discovery Tusla informed An Garda Síochána, the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation and my Department. I moved immediately to inform the Cabinet, and to announce that a process has been put in place by Tusla to deal with these cases, led by experienced information and tracing social workers.
As the information that an incorrect birth registration has taken place is potentially life changing, the State has a responsibility to reach a high level of certainty that this has in fact happened, before it contacts the individuals concerned. This threshold has now been reached in the case of the 126 St Patrick’s Guild files. In the case of a further 16 St Patrick’s Guild files, Tusla are still in the process of a validation exercise to assess whether evidence exists that an incorrect registration took place.
The AAI are currently engaged in a similar validation process in relation to approximately 140 cases where they have concerns that an incorrect registration may have taken place. If the threshold of evidence that an incorrect registration has taken place is reached in any of those cases, they will be added to the cases already being progressed by Tusla.