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Illegally adopted children are entitled to the truth

In what he described as another 'dark chapter' in Irish history, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday apologised on behalf of the government to those who were illegally adopted in past decades.

Concerns have been raised over a number of years about children being adopted illegally, including some sent abroad to the United States.

However, this week Katherine Zappone, minister for children, revealed that at least 126 births were incorrectly registered over the period from 1946 to 1969.

The names of people they were placed with were wrongly recorded as their birth parents.

Many of those affected will have no idea that the people who raised them are not their natural parents.

It is an appalling situation for all those concerned and it is clear the government has had to think long and hard about informing people named in the files, some of whom will be in their 70s now.

However, people are entitled to know the truth about their family circumstances and to that extent the government is right to be as open and transparent about this issue as possible.

It is secrecy perpetrated by people in positions of authority that has robbed these individuals of their true identity.

Indeed, they should have been told much earlier about this shameful practice.

The passage of time means that many adopted children have been denied the opportunity to meet their birth mothers, many of whom will have passed away.

Mothers also lost the chance to bring up their own children and in some cases may have believed their baby had died.

The question facing the government is just how wide this scandal goes. Just one agency has been looked at so far but there were almost 200 organisations involved in adoptions and all their records need to be examined.

It has to be asked if children from Northern Ireland were also caught up in this scandal.

Quite clearly, the scope of any review must be wide-ranging and ensure that every illegally adopted child is identified and made aware of their true family history.

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