Irish High Court rules women at centre of adoption mix up can sue the adoption society

In October, 2019 the Irish High Court granted permission to Helen Maguire and Christine Skipsey to issue the proceedings against St Patrick’s Guild.

The two women intend to sue the Catholic adoption society over the mixing up of babies in the 1960s.

The approval of the court was required under the Companies Act as the company behind the adoption society, St Patrick’s Guild (Incorporated), is in voluntary liquidation.

The case is one of several due to be issued against the adoption society which operated at Temple Hill in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

In 1966, Ms Maguire who was a single mother briefly left her newborn daughter in the care of nuns at the society, returning six weeks later to collect her daughter. Ms Maguire in her Affidavit which was opened to the Court said that she has done so to enable her to have an opportunity to arrange her affairs before returning to the UK, where she was living at the time, with her daughter.

Ms Maguire returned to the adoption society on the 19th January, 1967, hoping to be reunited with her daughter, instead she was given a different child. In her Affidavit grounding the application before the Court Ms Maguire stated that she raised concerns in January, 1967 in particular that the hair colour of her daughter appeared altered, but these concerns were dismissed by staff at the society and she was assured she was given the correct baby. It is not clear at this time whether the mix up was intentional or accidental.

However, DNA tests in July 2018 revealed Ms Skipsey, the child Ms Maguire raised as her own, was not her biological daughter.

It is alleged that Ms Maguire’s biological daughter was illegally adopted either before or shortly after her birth mother returned to collect her on the 19th January, 1967.

Proceedings are expected to be issued shortly. In addition to damages Ms Maguire and Ms Skipsey are also seeking an apology from the Sisters of Charity, which ran the adoption society.

It is also expected that proceedings will also issue against the Irish State due to the alleged failure by An Bord Uchtála, the old adoption board, to intervene over practices at the society.

The documents before the High Court also state that both women have suffered considerable emotional stress and psychological distress as a result of the shocking revelation and they are both receiving treatment and counselling in order to come to terms with things.

As St Patrick’s Guild was placed in voluntary liquidation in December 2018 it will be up to the liquidator Anthony Weldon to decide if the claims are to be defended on behalf of the adoption society.


Written by Amanda Munro at BLM

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