Adoption records ‘must be put in public domain’

By Jennifer Hough

Friday, May 06, 2011

RECORDS held by adoption agency Pact must be put in the public domain so people can access their past, according to a man who spent many years in a Government-funded home but for whom the state has no records.

Campaigner Derek Leinster was born and lived in a Government-funded Protestant home for illegitimate children.

Mr Leinster maintains that because people from Bethany Home, an institution for unmarried protestant mothers, were non-catholic they were not considered important enough to be recorded under the law of the land.

After many years seeking his records from the state, he was told that after an “extensive” search no records were found.

Mr Leinster was then directed to Pact because, in 1970, it was agreed by Bethany Trustees to transfer all existing files regarding Bethany Home to Pact for retention.

However, Mr Leinster claims Pact does not give out full records, and does “everything to frustrate” people’s efforts to get their personal files.

“I have been dealing with them since the 1960s. They tell you where you were and when you left but nothing in between. I only found out I was adopted because I accidently found the papers as a child,” he said.

The Bethany Home took in non-Catholic unmarried mothers, their children, along with prostitutes and women, including children, convicted of various crimes between 1922-72.

Mr Leinster was informally adopted in 1945 by a dysfunctional family in Co Wicklow, where he was unwanted, abused, starved and left to fend for himself.

He emigrated at age 18 to England and subsequently wrote two books and attempted to trace his birth parents in the 1960s.

Mr Leinster is campaigning for Bethany Home survivors to be given some form of redress by the government.

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, May 06, 2011

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