Posted: February 1st, 2020
An illegal Catholic Church Compensation case has been initiated at the High Court in Belfast in relation to adoptions arranged by the Catholic Church of children born in the Republic of Ireland. It is envisaged that this will be the first of many such cases.
Belfast-born actor Patrick FitzSymons, who has starred in numerous TV shows including Game of Thrones and Line of Duty. He was adopted in the 1960s due to the fact that his parents, an unmarried Catholic couple living in Co Clare, wish to avoid the stigma of having a child out of wedlock. Catholic church agency St Patrick’s Guild sorted it that he would be adopted by a married couple in Co Antrim. The legal firm handling his case, Coleman Legal Partners, are currently handling 25 cases like this.
it total l, 148 people are now participating in the cases about the adoptions which involved forging birth certificates and other baptismal records. This number has grown from the 126 announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar 20 months ago. In May 2018, the Taoiseach informed the Dáil that the disclosures of the adoptions amounted to “another chapter from the very dark history of our country” which had “robbed children – our fellow citizens – of their identity”.
Patrick Fitzsymons was born to parents in Co Clare, who asked not to be identified. St Patrick Guild set up his adoption to John FitzSymons, a pharmaceutical chemist from Warrenpoint in Co Down and Patricia Bradley, a qualified social worker from Co Tyrone. In a previous interview Mr FitzSymons described his relationship with his adoptive parents, who are now both deceased. He said that they “had loved me and provided for me as best they could’ and that his “natural parents, my birth mother in particular, had endured the institutional shaming and disapproval of Ireland at that time to do what she thought to be the right thing”.
In summer 2018, FitzSymons was told by Tusla that he was one of 126 people whose births were incorrectly registered between 1946 and 1969 by the Dublin-based St Patrick’s Guild.
It has also been reported in the press that Mr FitzSymons is also seeking exemplary damages for what his statement said was “actionable conspiracy, deceit, malicious falsehood and infringement of constitutional rights” in relation to the claimed forgery of official birth documents – and a declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention of Human Rights.
Norman Spicer, legally representing Mr FitzSymons for Coleman Legal Partners said that the firm is handling many cases similar to this. However they are not, at present. planning on applying for a “class action” order because of the complexity of the individual cases. Mr Spicer said: “There is no provision for the North American-style of ‘class action’ under Irish law. However, a court has discretion to grant an order which may mirror to some extent the other system for a specific case or set of cases.
“We do not envisage making such an application. These are complex cases involving many different defendants, as a result it is difficult to say how long these cases will take as it depends on all of the parties involved and how quickly responses, replies and motions, and so on, can be turned around.
He ended by saying: “Three years (the estimated time the case will take to process) would not be an unreasonable time frame but this is dependent upon many factors and is really only a ‘ballpark’ estimate”.