Republic of Ireland news

Leo Varadkar: Taoiseach labels illegal birth registrations 'another dark chapter'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called illegal birth registrations in the Republic 'another dark chapter'
Josh Payne, Press Association

LEO Vardakar has said another "dark chapter" has been opened in the Republic's history after it was announced 126 births were illegally registered over a 23-year period.

Minister for Children and Youth affairs Dr Katherine Zappone revealed on Tuesday that an independent review will be launched into the cases between 1946 and 1969, in which those affected may not know their parents were not their birth parents.

Today, the taoiseach said it was "right and appropriate" to release the information to the public, but said it was too early to discuss possible solutions such as free DNA tests or another compensation scheme.

"The sense that I have from people who have been affected by this is they are not looking for money from the taxpayer and they are not looking for retribution - they are looking for information about their identities," he said.

Dr Zappone had said those responsible may have been motivated by a belief that "this was best for the child", and suggested more people could be affected.

Katherine Zappone, the Republic's minister for children and youth affairs

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Varadkar said: "I think we've all been aware of the issue of illegal registrations... we think it's right and appropriate now to share that information with the people who were affected - those people now in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

"That is going to be difficult. People are going to find out that they were adopted in this way having thought for the past 50-60 years that they were the natural child of the people who brought them up.

"It's going to be really difficult for those parents who did bring up those people. They are going to have to have a very difficult conversation with the children they brought up."

Addressing those who criticised the government's decision to release the information, Mr Varadkar said: "These are events that happened between 50 and 70 years ago and I know some people will say that what's in the past should be left in the past, and perhaps we shouldn't open this can of worms - but we have taken a different view as a government.

"We have now very clear evidence that there were illegal registrations at the St Patrick's Guild, and we feel we have to share that information with the people who were affected.

"I think it's far too early to be talking about things like DNA tests or redress schemes."

He added: "They want to know who they are, they want to know what their birth story is. Our focus absolutely has to be around that and getting people the information they should have always had about their own identities and that has to be a priority in terms of the work we do now and the resources that we're going to have to put in."

Mr Varadkar said the next step was to go through the records of the other adoption societies.

He added: "We are opening what is another chapter from the very dark history in our country, but we are a different country now and I think the results from the referendum at the weekend show that."

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