The Shame of Ireland
By Conall Ó Fátharta
Irish Examiner Reporter
One of the victims of the Bessborough vaccine trial is to make a formal Garda complaint after it emerged files were altered in 2002.
On Tuesday, the Irish Examiner revealed the files of mothers and children used in the 1960/61 4-in-1 vaccine trial were altered in 2002 — just weeks after the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse sought discovery of records from the religious order running the home.
Mari Steed was born in Bessborough in 1960 and subsequently adopted in the US. Her natural mother’s file is one of those listed as having been changed. She plans to make a formal complaint to the gardaí and Data Protection Commissioner.
“Now that it’s been confirmed the information in my file has been altered, I feel I have an obligation to make both a Garda and data protection complaint. How many other files, not even relevant to the vaccine trials, may have been altered? People have a right to know this. I am awaiting legal advice on jurisdiction for the Garda filing and then will make both complaints as soon as possible,” she said.
Ms Steed also said Tusla, which now holds the records, had “an ethical, moral, and public interest” in contacting all of the people it can confirm were part of a trial.
The Irish Examiner put a series of questions to the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in relation to the document. It declined to answer any of them.
A statement from Ruairí Ó Catháin solicitors, representing the order, stated it had “no immediate knowledge of any specific event” concerning alterations made to records.
In a separate statement, the order said it wished to “categorically state that no documents were altered” and that it would deal with the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation on all such matters.
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