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Records from mother and baby homes passed to child and family agency

AUDIO: Children in homes were used in scientific experiments

Records from mother and baby homes passed to child and family agency image

Bessborough House in Cork | Image: Mari Steed/Adoption Rights Alliance

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Newstalk
16:22 Monday 9 June 2014

Tusla - the independent child and family agency which is responsible for improving the well-being of children - says records for the mother and baby homes in Tuam in Galway, as well Bessborough in Cork and St. Patrick's in Dublin, have been transferred to the agency.

The child and family agency has confirmed it can make these available to the inter-departmental inquiry being established by the Minister for Children, Charlie Flanagan.

Tusla confirmed this afternoon that nine registers from 1921 to 1961, along with quarterly returns from county councils dating back to 1919, are in its possession.

The Chief executive of Tusla Gordon Jeyes has said they have no problem in making these available to the interdepartmental review group set up by the government.

However he stressed the data is private and is being held in trust on behalf of individuals.

Tusla plans to digitise the registers, but they will remain confidential and will only be available to the inquiry and to the individuals concerned.

Following a call for a statutory inquiry into the mother-and-baby homes, the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn says the facts should be assembled first before a full independent investigation is established.

Earlier, Newstalk revealed that experimental drug trials were conducted on 298 children across 10 mother and baby homes during the 1960s and 70s.

Three trials were conducted at homes at Bessborough in Co. Cork, St. Peter's in Westmeath, St. Clare's in Stamullen, and The Good Shepard in Dunboyne - both Co. Meath - as well as six Dublin homes.

The research was carried out between 1960 and 1976. 

In one of the trials, 80 children became unwell after they were allegedly given a vaccine intended for cattle as part of an experiment run at five care homes and orphanages in Dublin during the mid 70s.

No paper or documentation on the vaccine trial has ever been published. 

The news comes as the government decides what powers and scope a potential inquiry into the homes should have.

Unexplained marks

Christy was one of the children at the Bessborough home in Co. Cork. His mother went into the home in 1960, prior to his birth after the man who got her pregnant refused to marry her.

He says he has no written proof he was used in vaccine tests.

Sr. Sarto is a senior nun, and formerly a social worker at the home in Bessborough during the 1980s. She told Breakfast reporter Shona Murray what she knows of the trials.

Sr. Sarto guides reporter Shona Murray around an angel's plot with a handful of marked graves at Bessborough.

Patsy McGarry of the Irish Times presenter David McWilliams on The Pat Kenny Show on  Newstalk that this kind of abuse was systematic. McGarry says it amounted to a 'complicity against children and their mothers'.

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