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HSE still without vaccine trial files

By Conall Ó Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Saturday, October 01, 2011

SOME 15,000 adoption files held by the Sacred Heart Convent at Bessborough in Cork have yet to be transferred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) — two months after the initial deadline for the transfer.

The files held by the order include those involving controversial vaccine trials carried out on children at the then mother-and-baby home.

The HSE had previously assured people that all files would be transferred in full by August 1 and when this deadline was missed, by August 20.

However, the HSE has confirmed that the files remain in the care of the order at Bessborough but that it has access to them and can deal with any queries from adopted people or natural mothers who may have spent time there.

In August, the Irish Examiner reported that, as the former adoption agency had not applied for accreditation, and is not compelled to do so under the Adoption Act, its adoption files will remain the private property of the order and cannot be inspected by the Adoption Authority.

Adoption groups have expressed concern about the length of time the transfer is taking and for the safety of the files while still in the care of the Order.

The former adoption society has been routinely criticised for its adoption record as well as its handling of tracing and information requests.

The 15,000 files relate to adoptions carried out through Bessborough as well as through Seán Ross Abbey in Tipperary and Castlepollard in Westmeath.

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

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