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files still to be transferred over to HSE
By Conall Ó Fátharta
Irish Examiner, Monday,
September 05, 2011
SOME 15,000 adoption files, including those relating to controversial
vaccine trials carried out on children at a mother-and-baby home run by
the Sacred Heart Convent at Bessborough in Cork, have yet to be
transferred to the HSE.
This is despite the HSE stating that all files, including those
concerning the vaccine trials, would be transferred in full by August 1
and, when this deadline was missed, by August 20.
The Adoption Authority continues to carry a notice saying the transfer
would take place by August 1.
However, the HSE has confirmed the files are still in the care of the
order at the Sacred Heart Convent in Bessborough.
It is understood the HSE is looking for suitable accommodation for the
files and that this should be completed this week.
A HSE spokesperson said its staff have full access to the files and are
dealing with inquiries from adopted people looking to access
However, a large number of adopted people have contacted the Irish
Examiner saying that the HSE is issuing conflicting information as to
the location of the files, while others have been told the HSE would not
be taking control of the vaccine files — a direct contradiction of the
HSE’s official line.
In a statement, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald stressed that
all adoption files would be taken over by the HSE.
"Difficulties around the operation of adoption information and
tracing services at the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Bessborough have
been addressed," she said.
"Negotiations have taken place between my department, the HSE and
the order and this matter has been resolved. The HSE has agreed to take
over the management of the adoption files."
The 15,000 adoption files held by the order relate to adoptions carried
out through Bessborough as well as through Seán Ross Abbey in Tipperary
and Castlepollard in Westmeath.
Between them, the three agencies exported more than 800 Irish children
to the US between the 1940s and 1960s.
Both Castlepollard and Bessborough are also known to have allowed
children in their care to be used as guinea pigs in vaccine trials.
The trials were conducted by Burroughs Wellcome, now GlaxoSmithKline.
A number of victims have confirmed their natural parents were never
asked, nor gave consent, for their children to be used in the trials.
The Laffoy Commission on Child Abuse was investigating vaccine trials
between 1940 and 1987 as part of a separate module. However, the probe
was brought to a sudden halt after court action was taken by the doctors
involved in the trials.
* Inquiries regarding information and tracing services in respect of the
adoption records held in Bessborough should be addressed to HSE Adoption
Unit, St Stephen’s Hospital, Cork, or by contacting 021 4858650.
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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
Alex Haley, Author of Roots