I am conscious of claims that the State knew for many years about illegal registrations, and that successive Governments should have done more to address the issue. What has been lost in the debate is the fact that, while there seems to have been an awareness of this illegal practice, we had no clear proof of what happened, other than in a few individual cases where documentary evidence was found.
It is vital to point out that illegal registrations were deliberately concealed and that either no records were kept or else they appear to have been deliberately falsified. In these circumstances, it was difficult to find the truth.
The St. Patrick's Guild records were the first source of a considerable number of cases where clear written evidence was identified. I announced this on 29 May as soon as I was satisfied about the strength of the evidence in these cases.
While the AAI has previously reported concerns about a number of cases it was aware of, the threshold of evidence of an incorrect registration, which is required if persons are to be notified, had not yet been reached.
While engaging with Tusla and the AAI on the evidence emerging from the St. Patrick's Guild files of illegal registrations, I requested that the authority revisit the cases about which it had concerns, and to conduct a validation exercise on them to establish if a high level of certainty could be reached that an incorrect registration had taken place. I await the outcome of this validation exercise from the authority. If further confirmed cases emerge, they will be added to the same process as the 126 confirmed St. Patrick's Guild cases.
In addition, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters is examining adoption practices in the cases of mothers and children who were resident in the specified institutions within its terms of reference.