News & Media

We may be faced with full-scale public inquiry on adoptions

10 March 2021

Statement by Seán Sherlock TD
Parliamentary Party Chair and Spokesperson on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands; Agriculture and the Marine

Time and tide waits for no man or woman and people are getting older.

Speaking during the Dáil debate on Sinn Féin’s Civil Registration Bill, Labour TD and member of the Oireachtas Committee on Children, Seán Sherlock said that a full scale public inquiry may be the only way to deal with the matter of illegal adoptions.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“We welcome the work that is to be carried out by Prof O’Mahony, it is vital that there is a process in place to investigate the steps Government can take to properly address this issue. If at the end of the process, which is expected to take six months, Professor O'Mahony comes to the same conclusions, where can we go from there?

“It might be the case that the only solution to thoroughly deal with the issue of illegal adoptions whereby all the files, not just a sample, can be audited.

“In light of the report on the Mother and Baby Homes, and in light of a clear wish on the part of the Houses of the Oireachtas to deal with all these issues in an open and transparent way now, there is an argument to be made for having a full public inquiry into illegal birth registrations and open it all up in a transparent way. This would mean that every file is examined, and the State would have investigate this very important issue methodically.

“There’s a concern that if Professor O'Mahony comes to the same conclusions as the independent review, it will leave many people extremely disappointed. Time and tide waits for no man or woman and people are getting older. Therefore, should we not now consider the idea of a full public inquiry into this in order that all of the files can be examined fully, not just a sample?

“Will we end up telling people that there is absolutely no way that the State can interrogate every single illegal adoption and there is no mechanism open to the State to do that but that we should hold a full-scale public inquiry into this issue in order to satisfy ourselves, as well as everybody who has been impacted by illegal adoption, that the State has done everything within its wherewithal to examine and interrogate every single issue related to it.

“This is just one suggestion of a potential course of action, and I await the results of the process put in place by the Minister to consider and propose the next steps.”