New Justice Minister 'must act over forced adoption victims'

New Justice Minister 'must act over forced adoption victims'

IRELAND’S new Minister for Justice must follow Alan Shatter’s lead by reuniting thousands of families torn apart by forced adoption, a leading campaigner has said.

Just as the now-disgraced former minister was once praised for bringing justice to women who suffered in Magdalene Laundries, Susan Lohan said his replacement must help forced adoption victims.

The Adoption Rights Alliance co-founder claimed Frances Fitzgerald would have “no excuse” for failing to act due to her past experience as Children’s Minister.

“We expect Frances Fitzgerald to continue to engage with us on dealing with the injustices of forced and illegal adoptions in Ireland by introducing laws that would reunite thousands of families,” Ms Lohan said.

Ms Fitzgerald was appointed to the office of Justice Minister this morning after Mr Shatter resigned following receipt of a report into allegations made by police whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

It came 10 months after he launched a redress scheme for thousands of women who suffered abuse in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, which were run by the church and funded by the state.

“We have being saying for years that adopted Irish adults should not be dealing with the Minister for Children, but the Minister for Justice,” Ms Lohan said.

“Frances Fitzgerald has a new portfolio now and just as Minister Shatter was called a reforming minister for justice, we would hope that, given her absolute awareness of what went on within domestic adoption, that she will use her use her new portfolio to address that whole area as well.”

Minister Fitzgerald held several meetings with forced adoption victims since becoming Children’s Minister after the 2011 general election.

But the Fine Gael TD became a subject of much anger for mothers and children separated forever at Ireland’s brutal homes for unmarried mothers due to long delays in legislation needed to reunite them.

Current Irish laws prevent mothers and their children from being given information they could use to find each other.

Like the Magdalene Laundries, mother and baby homes were run by the Church and funded by the Irish State.

Bournemouth-based victim Theresa Tinggal vowed last year never to meet Minister Fitzgerald again due to the length of time she was taking to fulfil a 2011 promise to introduce new laws.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy said the Fine Gael TD was “failing miserably” to respond adequately to the forced adoption scandal after it was highlighted by BAFTA-winning film Philomena.

Philomena Lee is one of up to 60,000 mothers who campaigners say lost their children to forced adoption.

Ms Lee, who is currently based in Hertfordshire, is believed to be one of thousands of those affected by the shocking practice who fled to Britain.

The Irish Post has revealed several of their stories, including Fred O’Donnell, who launched an emotional campaign to track down his brother earlier this year.

Responding to Mr Troy at the time, Minister Fitzgerald rejected “absolutely” the claim she was trying to slow down the progress of legislation to give tracing rights to mothers and children separated in the homes.

Instead, she said the opposition TD was underestimating the complexity involved in the legislation, explaining that she was requiring constant contact with the Attorney General to draft it.

But the Adoption Rights Alliance accused successive Irish Governments of “running scared” from victims of forced adoption because of the scale of the scandal.

The campaign group has been heavily involved in the Philomena Project, which aims to pressure the Irish Government into releasing more than 60,000 adoption files.