Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Ireland‘s Banished Babies – Illegal Adoptions and Dr Éamon de Valera Junior

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According to an RTÉ Investigates documentary, broadcast on March 3 2021, Dr Éamon De Valera Jr – the oldest son of Éamon De Valera Sr, Taoiseach and President of Ireland between 1932 and 1973 – repeatedly facilitated illegal adoptions. This is not a new story.

Mike Milotte’s book “Banished Babies” was first published in 1997. A new and updated version appeared in 2012.

I picked the book from my shelves, and re-read the chapter about St. Rita’s Nursing Home, run by Mrs Mary Keating.

Milotte explores a 1965 cover-up prosecution of Mrs Mary Keating, who was supported by many powerful men : Declan Costello (son of ex Fine Gael Taoiseach John A Costello) was Mrs Keating’s lawyer. Declan Costello, a Fine Gael TD, was Attorney General in the 1973-77 Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government.

In 1992 the High Court Judge Declan Costello ordered the internment in Ireland of a pregnant raped suicidal 14 year old girl, in that way preventing her from getting an abortion in England or some other country. This was the infamous “X Case”.

Joe Doyle was another strong supporter of Mary Keating – in 1965 Doyle was the sacristan at Donnybrook Church, where “Mrs Keating had her falsely registered babies baptised”. Doyle was in later years a Fine Gael Constituency TD colleague of Garret FitzGerald in Dublin South-East between 1982 and 1992. Then Fianna Fáil Agriculture Minister Charles Haughey is reported saying “sure half the children born in St. Rita’s were fathered by members of the Dáil”. Haughey was Taoiseach of Ireland and the Fianna Fáil leader between 1979 and 1991. All these politicians – Doyle, Costello and Haughey – backed the 1983 constitutional Irish ban on abortion. Another supporter of Mrs Keating was the ex Rugby Star, the Consultant Karl Mullen – 30 years later he recalled, inaccurately, that the St Rita’s Nursing Home boss was prosecuted “for selling babies to America”. Mike Milotte accurately observes that although Mrs Keating was not charged with “selling babies to America”, many suspected “that was precisely what she was up to”.

An update after watching the RTÉ Investigates documentary, broadcast on Wednesday March 3 2021. I think everyone should zone in on the 1965 Mary Keating court case. A large cast of high-ranking politicians and Catholic Church bosses were terrified Keating would spill the beans and bring them all down. It would be a mistake to suggest Éamon De Valera Junior acted alone. I believe Éamonn Ó Cuív TD (FF Galway West) may have information which would assist up to 10,000 people in Ireland who have false birth certificates. In 1965 Mary Keating’s blackmail worked. Many politicians and bishops involved in the babies for sale “adoption” racket went on to infamously promote the 1983 Anti-Abortion amendment. The money trail is extremely important.

Many other powerful people were directly involved in the St. Rita’s operation – Mrs Keating had incriminating details, so the State prosecution charge was trivial. She got off with a very light tap on on the knuckles – Mike Milotte recently confirmed to me that allegations were rife that a very well-connected member of the DeValera family was involved with St Rita’s. Perhaps due to lack of proof, or legal advice, Éamon de Valera junior is not mentioned in “Banished Babies”.

In February 2015 the Irish Daily Mail furnished proof that Dr Éamon de Valera junior organised illegal adoptions. Alison O’Reilly reported that “the high-ranking doctor arranged for a baby boy to be adopted in the 1960’s by facilitating his adoptive parents to sign his birth cert”

The Mother and Babies Homes Commission Report, published in January 2021, contained far less information. Did the commission researchers read “Banished Babies” – especially the chapter about St. Rita’s Nursing Home and the 1965 prosecution of its boss Mrs Keating? Did they read the 2015 Daily Mail article and the letter Dr De Valera wrote?
Catherine Connolly TD referred, in an excellent Dáil speech, to the poor research quality of the commission report. The Galway West TD praised the “Banished Babies” book.

Today, this is ancient history – so why did the commission fail to tell an accurate story?

Is it because the commission members were not presented with easily available facts?

Or did commission members have access to material they chose not to publish?

Contrast the “Banished Babies” book, and Alison O’Reilly’s shocking 2015 newspaper report, with this cowardly and incompetent commission whitewash :

“ Irregularities and illegal activities 

The report also focuses on cases where some births were not registered and also the activities pursued by both mother and baby homes and couples abroad trying to adopt Irish children.

One example refers to a garda report from 1954 stating that eight children were born to mothers who came to St Rita’s private nursing home in Ranelagh.

“Shortly after the birth of the children, the nursing home owner, Mrs Keating, handed them over to the wives of American servicemen.”

The report stated that the certificates of surrender were attached but they were not in the file seen by the commission with it stating it is “seriously doubtful” if such certificates of surrender had any legal validity.

There were no prosecutions and the commission has not seen any evidence that the issue was taken up by the Department of Health or the local authority responsible for registering maternity homes,

The Commission considers that the actions of State authorities in this case fell far short of what should have been expected from those charged with implementing the maternity home regulations.”

The shocking story continues :

“ Prof Eamonn de Valera Jr, the son of former President Eamon de Valera, repeatedly facilitated the illegal adoption of babies long after the introduction of the 1952 Adoption Act, which made the practice a criminal offence, RTÉ Investigates has learned.

While the involvement of Prof de Valera Jr in illegal adoptions has previously been disclosed, new evidence uncovered by RTÉ Investigates demonstrates the extent to which some of the country’s most elite and powerful individuals acted in contravention of the law.

Over the course of several decades, the high-profile consultant gynaecologist at the National Maternity Hospital on Dublin’s Holles Street arranged for the children of unmarried mothers to be adopted by couples, usually those who could not themselves conceive children.”

John Meehan March 3 2021

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