Children and Youth Affairs, Human Rights

Press Release:

SURVIVORS MEET MINISTER KATHERINE ZAPPONE

“At this rate, our entire community will be reunited with headstones in graveyards”

MINOR PROGRESS PROMISED ON LONG OVERDUE MEMORIALS

A delegation of five members of the Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS) held a hour and a quarter meeting with Minister for Children Katherine Zappone at the Department of Children today. CMABS are extremely disappointed with the Ministers response to their reasonable requests for progress. It is clear that the change of Government earlier this year has reset the clock to zero in relation to our fight for truth and justice and survivors have to almost start from scratch in regards to practically everything. However the most prevalent word used by the Minister today was “NO!”.
During a frank exchange of views between Minister Zappone and Theresa Hiney Tinggal, founder and Chairperson of Illegally Adopted Ireland who flew in from England especially for the meeting, the Minister point blank refused to give any commitment to including illegally adopted people in the current Inquiry or a commitment to bring the matter to Cabinet or review the bizarre exclusion of illegally adopted people in any way.

Theresa Hiney Tinggal said: “Because of the exclusion of illegally adoptees, Ireland and Minister Zappone are effectively supporting and condoning child trafficking and covering up crimes. As a result, the Inquiry into Mother and Baby homes is to become part of an “historical analysis” in the final social report. It cannot leave out groups like ours, otherwise it cannot be regarded as comprehensive or fair. “

There was some minor progress in relation to the long promised and overdue Memorials. CMABS were promised that if a proposal by CMABS sent a year ago, was resent, that it would be looked at and a response issued in two weeks.

Paul Redmond, Chairperson of CMABS said: ” It was a very difficult meeting and it seems that we have gone backwards in relation to the long overdue open records Adoption Bill which we had expected would be passed by now; instead it has been pushed back to the middle of 2017 at the earliest. Several well known activists have died over the past several months and now it seems thousands more of our survivor community will die without reuniting with lost parents or sons and daughters. At this rate, our entire community will be reunited with headstones in graveyards.

Progress on including the illegally adopted in the current Inquiry was more or less ruled out and our community is being sliced in two by cruel and heartless decisions by the Government and Minister Zappone. Survivors are denied the fundamental human and civil right of ‘legal remedy’ and excluded from any and all legal process’s.

It was also very disappointing to be asked if we had any evidence of Minister Reilly’s public promise to provide funds for Memorials over a year and a half after his promise in January 2015 while he was announcing the Inquiry’s Terms Of Reference. There was a completely new set of people with the Minister and it seemed like everything we had previously said was completely forgotten along with all the promises that were made to us and indeed all previous progress. We have been set back at least a year or more by the change of Government and the lack of understanding of our issues was deeply disappointing and hurtful to a vulnerable survivor community.”

Professor Patricia Lundy of Ulster University confirmed to Minister Zappone that she has made contact with the UN on the issues and her determination to follow through to the end to ensure justice for survivors.

Professor Lundy said: “The Minister needs to listen to survivors. There are concerns that are not being addressed which will impact on the final report of the Inquiry and lessen it. All of the exclusions could diminish the credibility of findings of the Inquiry.”

Anne Biggs was born in Castlepollard Mother and Baby home and banished to America as a five year old child. History was made today as Anne is the first Banished Baby to fly to Ireland and meet a Minister and recount their life story. The Minister was clearly moved by Anne’s deeply emotional testimony.

Anne Biggs said: ” I think that’s it’s important for Minister Zappone and her people to have a better and deeper understanding of the reality of the lives of survivors.”

Clodagh Malone, founder and Chair of ‘Beyond Adoption Ireland’ and a highly qualified and experienced counselor, brought up several issues relating to search and tracing by social services and the aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act to completely blank out dozens of pages of people’s personal files. Clodagh also asked for a specialist adoption counseling service to be provided, particularly for survivors who have been affected by giving evidence to the current Inquiry, and for a wider counseling service to be made available to all survivors.

Clodagh Malone said: “We needed far more time for our meeting as we’ve waited several months for this appointment and we hardly scratched the surface of our issues. Surely over 60,000 survivors are worth more than an hour after a wait of several months for an appointment!”