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Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland$

Moira J. Maguire

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719080814

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719080814.001.0001

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Legislating care and protection: the Carrigan Committee, the age of consent, and adoption

Legislating care and protection: the Carrigan Committee, the age of consent, and adoption

Chapter:
(p.113) 4 Legislating care and protection: the Carrigan Committee, the age of consent, and adoption
Source:
Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland
Author(s):

Moira Maguire

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719080814.003.0005

Abstract and Keywords

Events surrounding the Carrigan Committee and the presentation of its report suggest that the assumptions, beliefs and behaviors related to sexual morality in post-independence Ireland were complex. The Catholic hierarchy opposed adoption on several grounds, and no administration was willing to cross the church on this issue. Adoption by an American family under American adoption laws provided the only alternative to institutional life or an insecure informal adoption or fostering arrangement in Ireland. The adoption of legitimate children presented a challenge in the context of the government's conceptualization of ‘normal’ or appropriate family composition. The evolution of Ireland's adoption process up to 1952 reveals the yawning schism between the republican ideal to ‘cherish all the children of the nation equally,’ and the way the state dealt with children who for whatever reason could not be cared for and protected by their own biological parents.

Keywords:   adoption, Carrigan Committee, Catholic hierarchy, Ireland, legitimate children

Introduction

The previous chapters have examined the way the state, in the form of the Departments of Health and Education and local authorities, provided for poor, neglected, and illegitimate children through social policy and more informal measures. Two issues in the mid-twentieth century, the age of consent and legal adoption, required more formal action on the part of the state. The debates, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, that occurred around these issues provide further insights into how the state conceived of its responsibility to vulnerable children. Even here the best interests of children became secondary to more pressing political issues, such as the official desire to uphold the nationalist image of independent Ireland, to pacify the Catholic hierarchy, and to uphold male sexual privilege. In analyzing the events and debates surrounding passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act (1935) and the Adoption Act (1952) this chapter considers the extent to which vulnerable children were used (or indeed abused), in a variety of ways to prop up the nationalist image of Catholic Ireland that was promoted at home and abroad.

Irish social historians tend to take for granted that for much of the twentieth century the Catholic Church was all-pervasive and all-powerful, particularly in the area of sexual morality, and that the state willingly bowed to pressure to legislate according to Catholic doctrine and principles. Historians point to a number of legislative initiatives, including the mother and child scheme of 1951, the Adoption Act of 1952, and earlier legislation regulating dance halls – as well as to social policy (or lack (p.114) of it) related to unmarried mothers and their children – as proof of the church's moral authority in virtually all aspects of Irish social and political life.1 Scholarly examinations of the events surrounding the creation of the Carrigan Committee and its report in the early 1930s tend to reinforce, rather than challenge, these assumptions.2 James Smith argues that the government suppressed the Carrigan report as part of its policy of “containing” sexual immorality after independence. Mark Finnane acknowledges the role of key Catholic prelates in formulating post-independence social policy, but he also emphasizes the role of other agencies and institutions, including An Garda Siochána and the courts, in shaping the post-independence “moral order.” Finola Kennedy wonders whether suppression of the Carrigan report in the early 1930s compounded Irish society's ignorance of the extent of sexual assaults against children. Despite differing approaches and conclusions, all of these articles are rooted in two fundamental assumptions: first that Catholic sensibilities, more than anything else, guided official responses to sexual immorality generally, and to the Carrigan report specifically; and second, that awareness of child sexual abuse did not exist in Ireland in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

Far from being ignorant of the vulnerability of children to sexual abuse in the first half of the twentieth century, lawmakers, jurists, and the public in general were well aware of the problem, even if there was little public commentary. The failure of the government to act on the Carrigan Committee's recommendations stemmed less from ignorance or disbelief of the conditions it revealed than from social and political priorities that were more pressing than their responsibility to protect vulnerable and victimized children. The government's response to information about sexual assaults against children suggests that the poor, disaffected, and marginalized were sacrificed to the “greater good,” which in this case meant male sexual license and protecting the newly independent state's legitimacy and reputation in the international arena. Events surrounding the Carrigan Committee and the presentation of its report suggest that the assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors related to sexual morality in post-independence Ireland were far more complex than has yet been acknowledged. The government's decision to suppress the Carrigan report and to suppress subsequent debate on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act (1935) derived less from ignorance of moral conditions throughout the country, or a desire to “contain” sexual immorality, than from a desire to prevent details of Ireland's “depraved” moral condition from reaching the pages of the foreign, and particularly the British, press.

This fear of international censure or ridicule is, ironically, what finally compelled the government to pass an Adoption Act in 1952. Department (p.115) of Health inspectors of boarded-out children had been emphasizing the need for legal adoption as early as the 1930s. Their work with boarded-out children convinced them of the need for measures to legally allow children to be subsumed into families other than their own biological families. In the 1940s the Adoption Society and the Joint Committee for Women's Societies and Social Workers joined them in their calls for legal adoption. In spite of mounting public pressure, successive administrations throughout the 1940s and into the early 1950s continued to insist that legal adoption was not necessary. In reality, the Catholic hierarchy opposed adoption on several grounds, and no administration was willing to cross the church on this issue. They were finally forced into adoption by international media attention that chronicled Ireland's informal overseas adoption trade.

The Carrigan Committee

The issue of child sexual abuse has received a great deal of attention in the popular Irish press in recent years, primarily in connection with the alleged physical and sexual abuse of children in industrial schools that were funded by the state and administered by male and female religious orders.3 However, there have been few quantitative or qualitative analyses of sexual offenses against children in the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, nor of the extent of official awareness or discussion of the issue. Contemporary commentators talk about child sexual abuse as if it has only been “discovered” recently, or as if it either did not exist in earlier times or was so shrouded in mystery and secrecy as to be virtually invisible. Indeed, the phrase “child sexual abuse” gained currency in social and political parlance only in the mid-1980s; prior to this, sexual offences perpetrated against children were not defined or treated any differently from those perpetrated against adults. But the supposed silence or secrecy surrounding child sexual abuse, even if it was not called that at the time, was not as complete as historians tend to assume. And even when relative silence did prevail, this should not be taken as evidence that lawmakers, courts, or even parents were ignorant of the fact that children were vulnerable to sexual assaults.

In the first decade of the Irish Free State's existence, lawmakers amended legislation in a number of areas including the poor law, affiliations orders, and the regulation of dance halls, in an effort to bring Irish statute into line with what they regarded as Ireland's unique social and moral ethos. The law relating to sexual offences, as embodied in the Criminal Law Amendment Acts 1880–85, also came under review at this time. A Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill was introduced in 1929, the primary aim of which was ostensibly to protect girls from sexual assault or exploitation by raising the (p.116) age of consent to something considered more appropriate to Irish circumstances.4 However, the Dáil disagreed as to what the age of consent should be; suggestions ranged from sixteen to twenty-one years old. Further, some lawmakers expressed the view that amendments were necessary simply because the existing law was a relic of British administration in Ireland: “The existing law was made by Englishmen, and the general conditions and outlook on such matters here being fundamentally different, it is unsuitable for application to this country.”5 Ironically, the Carrigan Committee's investigation showed that conditions in Ireland were little different from those that prevailed in England.

The 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act came into existence following a high-profile stunt by W.T. Stead, editor of the sensationalist Pall Mall Gazette, that literally shocked respectable English society and shamed the government into legislating a higher age of consent. (The 1861 Offences Against the Person Act raised the age of consent to 13 years). The Stead case occurred against the backdrop of anti-vice and social purity campaigns that had gained steady support and strength in Britain since the 1870s. Stead was joined in his “operation” by Josephine Butler, former crusader for repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, and by the Salvation Army. In July 1885 Stead published a series of four articles, “The Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon,” in which he purported to reveal the underbelly of Britain's white sex-slave trade. Stead claimed that he and his reporters spent a month investigating and uncovering London's “trade” in young girls. Stead reported that he purchased a 13-year-old girl, Eliza Armstrong, from her mother for £5. “The ‘Maiden Tribute’ documented in lurid detail how poor ‘daughters of the people’ were ‘snared, trapped, and outraged, either when under the influence of drugs or after a prolonged struggle in a locked room.’”6 The series sparked a public outcry the likes of which had never been seen before, and by the time the series had concluded mass demonstrations were being held, demanding that the government enact legislation raising the age of consent; such legislation had stalled in previous parliamentary sessions. It was later revealed that the Eliza Armstrong episode was staged, and that most of the content of Stead's articles was fabricated.7 In spite of this, however, the series was successful in forcing the government to act on the age of consent, and the result was the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1885. The Act made sexual intercourse with girls under the age of fourteen years a felony, and sexual intercourse with girls under seventeen years of age a misdemeanor.

There was no such public outcry in post-independence Ireland, even as the Carrigan Committee amassed vast evidence of the vulnerability of girls to sexual violence and exploitation. From the beginning, government (p.117) ministers were reluctant to introduce changes to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in spite of the fact that individual TDs had been calling for reforms since 1925. In April of that year, TD Richard Corish raised the issue during oral question time; the Minister for Justice, Kevin O’Higgins, replied that a bill was in the drafting stage.8 By 1927 there had been no movement on the bill, and again the Minister for Justice was questioned on the matter, this time by TD Seán MacEoin; the Minister replied that other issues had taken priority:

Materials for Bills dealing with these matters were prepared in my Department a considerable time ago. Owing to the number of other matters of more immediate importance in my Department and other Departments requiring legislation, it has not been found possible to get these materials incorporated in a Bill. It is my intention, however, to have such a Bill prepared at the first available opportunity.9

Ten months later, in November 1927, TD William Davin again asked the Minister for Justice (now W.T. Cosgrave) when he planned to introduce the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill and the Minister again said that other matters were more important.10 It would be another two years before a bill reached the floor of the Dáil.

The issues raised during Dáil debates on the 1929 Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill may explain the reluctance of successive ministers for justice to introduce it in the first place. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill was supposed to protect young girls from sexual assaults, but nearly every TD who spoke during the debates pointed out the Bill's potential to encourage blackmail or false accusations of rape. Lawmakers wanted to ensure that in amending the law they did not inadvertently make it easier for prostitutes or unscrupulous “well grown girls” to entrap “innocent men.”11 Some lawmakers were convinced that, if sexual offenses against young girls were, in fact, on the rise, girls were as much to blame as men for that state of affairs: “Everybody in this House knows, that girls of 16, 17 and 18 years of age are really more responsible for this offence which it is desired to punish under this Bill, than are the persons whom this Bill would punish.”12 In the end lawmakers could not agree on the bill's fundamental principles, nor were they all convinced that changes in the law were even necessary. They agreed to postpone further debate pending the establishment of the Carrigan Committee to inquire into the nature and extent of the country's “morality problem.”

Some members of the Dáil doubted that sexual offenses, especially those perpetrated against young girls, represented a significant problem in post-independence Ireland, yet civil servants in the Department of Justice, on the basis of information provided by police commissioner Eoin O’Duffy, (p.118) could be in no doubt that a problem did exist. A memo prepared by O’Duffy noted that:

An alarming aspect is the number of cases of interference with girls under 16, and even under 13 and 11, which come before the Courts. These are in most cases heard of accidentally by the Guards, and are very rarely as a result of a direct complaint. It is generally agreed that reported cases do not exceed 15% of those actually happening.13

O’Duffy's memo admitted that the roots of this seeming lapse in morality were “indigenous” and thus required a distinctly Irish solution: “The present state of the law is disgraceful in a Christian country, and the whole question of morality crimes should now be dealt with from an Irish point of view.”14 The disparity between the contents of this memo, and the concerns that had dominated the earlier Dáil debates, such as the need to protect men from blackmail, typifies the double standard that was evident throughout much of twentieth-century Ireland whenever moral issues were discussed.

The overwhelmingly male legislature was careful to ensure that new legislative initiatives in areas that governed sexual morality would not either render men vulnerable to blackmail by “conniving” women or force them to be more accountable for their own sexual behavior.15 The Minister for Justice, James Fitzgerald-Kenney, was the first to raise the specter of blackmail in relation to the age of consent: “This question of the age of consent and whether it should be seventeen or eighteen is a very serious problem. Certainly I myself am of the opinion, to begin with, that it should only be seventeen. Deputies will understand that if a girl of eighteen is a loose woman she may become a most terrible blackmailer. She may look to be very much older, and she may become a most desperate blackmailer.”16

Gearoid O’Sullivan, while dismissing the Bill's potential for blackmail, noted that:

What is serious is that two persons commit a crime and that this Bill makes it a crime for one person because of his sex, and makes him liable to be punished and the other person because of her sex and because she happens to be under 18 years of age gets off scot free. That is the principle of the Bill and it is because of that principle that I ask the House to disagree with it and not to give it a Second Reading. There is a good deal to be said about raising the age of consent but not in the fashion in this Bill, namely to the age of 18. There is no sense in that.17

Concerns about blackmail, and the conviction that teenage girls were more responsible than men for sexual assaults, surfaced in subsequent debates about the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act.

The Committee on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, known as the Carrigan Committee, met for the first time on 20 June 1930. The (p.119) committee was comprised of six members, four men and two women. Barrister William Carrigan served as chair; other members were Catholic and Church of Ireland clergymen, the matron of a Dublin maternity hospital, a poor law commissioner, and a physician.18 The committee was only secondarily concerned with juvenile prostitution (although, as will be seen, this issue was foregrounded by many witnesses). Its primary concern was “to examine the proposals which had been repeatedly put forward by various societies and organisations for changes in the law relating to sexual offences, the most important being the raising of the age of consent.”19 One of the committee's first decisions was that its proceedings would be closed to the press and the public, although the press would be “kept informed of the progress of the enquiry.”20 The committee believed that witnesses would be more frank and forthcoming if they knew their evidence would be kept in confidence, rather than featured prominently on the pages of regional and national newspapers.

The concern for the reputation of innocent men expressed in Dáil debates in 1930, as indicated above, was echoed in some of the testimony heard by the Carrigan Committee. One of the most striking examples of this was the heavy emphasis that many witnesses placed on juvenile prostitution, often at the expense of other issues. Almost all of the witnesses commented on juvenile prostitution, and several spoke of little else. One might have expected, given that the committee's task was to investigate the extent of sexual crimes against girls, that those who addressed juvenile prostitution would have done so in the context of the sexual vulnerability or exploitation of girls and young women. In fact, many of the witnesses implied or stated outright that the girls themselves were primarily responsible for their plight and should be dealt with harshly. Most recommended incarcerating suspected juvenile prostitutes in reformatories or similarly penal institutions, and subjecting them to enforced medical inspections.21

The strongest condemnation of juvenile prostitution came from District Court justice George Cussen, who rejected the proposal to raise the age of consent “on the ground that young men undoubtedly need some protection from wild girls.”22 Cussen further suggested that “the D.J. should be given power to have the young prostitute medically examined – if she refused she would go to jail – and if diseased she could be committed to serve her sentence in the Lock Hospital.”23 This proposal seems downright draconian, particularly when one considers that women in England had secured repeal of exactly this type of legislation, through the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts, in 1886.

Notably, many of the witnesses who gave evidence before a committee ostensibly concerned with the sexual vulnerability of young girls not only (p.120) concentrated on juvenile prostitution, but also presented their evidence from a perspective that saw juvenile prostitutes more as victimizers than victims. This heavy emphasis on prostitution might have left one with the false impression that juvenile prostitution was a more significant problem than sexual offenses perpetrated against young girls.24 But much testimony, combined with the debates that occurred in the Dáil in 1929 and 1930, also suggests that, far from assuming that young Irish women were the embodiment of chastity and purity, some segments of “respectable” Irish society regarded them not only as sexually knowledgeable and experienced but, indeed, as sexual predators in their own right.

Several female witnesses suggested that Irish girls were less mature physically, and more innocent of sexual matters, than their English counterparts, and were therefore more easily led astray. Dr Angela Russell testified that “in her experience girls in Ireland were physically more immature than those of equal age abroad and temperamentally they were more trusting and simple.”25 The overall view, however, was that girls were at least as guilty as men of the sexual immorality that was seemingly rampant in the country, and that men needed protection from conniving, blackmailing girls just as much as girls needed protection from predatory men. Undoubtedly the pejorative rhetoric was intended to protect male sexual license, given that in fact the vast majority of victims of sexual crimes that came before the district and circuit courts were under the age of seventeen years and hardly the sexual predators portrayed by lawmakers; however, the conclusions about female sexual promiscuity reached by some observers were not entirely unfounded. Court records of infanticide, and even of sexual assaults, paint a portrait of female sexuality that is often at odds with received wisdom on the subject.26

The only witness to address the nature and frequency of sexual assaults against children in any meaningful way was Eoin O’Duffy, commissioner of An Garda Siochána. O’Duffy noted that “the existing statutory provisions in respect of sexual crime were insufficient, also that the position in this matter was alarming and so far from improving was growing worse from year to year.”27 O’Duffy attributed this in part to “wretched housing conditions,” which afforded no privacy and, presumably, no protection from sexual assaults. O’Duffy's assumption about the links between housing conditions and the sexual vulnerability of young girls appear somewhat simplistic and naïve because it assumes that sexual crimes were in effect crimes of opportunity. In a memorandum submitted to the committee to expand on his oral testimony, O’Duffy stated that

[t]here is nothing inherently bad in the majority of our young girls who drift into the unfortunate class. In the great majority of cases the cause may be found (p.121) in the conditions under which they lived for the first fifteen years of their lives – wretched housing conditions such as where large families sleep in one or two beds in a common room, clothes barely sufficient to cover their nakedness, and no consideration possible as regards dressing, undressing, sleeping and complying with the demands of nature.28

In this depiction, male perpetrators of sexual assaults against young girls are portrayed as victims of circumstance, and thus, essentially excused. O’Duffy wrote that “there is nothing inherently bad” in the character of Irish girls but he ignored the character of boys and men entirely. Presumably, given their constant exposure to scantily-clad or even naked young girls in these overcrowded tenements, how could men be expected to keep their sexual urges in check? But O’Duffy's picture also had little bearing on reality. Of the nearly 1,500 sexual assault cases heard in circuit courts throughout the country in the period 1924 to 1960 only a handful occurred under the kind of conditions described by O’Duffy.29 In fact, many sexual assaults against young girls (and boys) occurred in isolated fields and laneways, in the homes of neighbors, and in their own rural cottages.

But O’Duffy also suggested that there was a “changed rural outlook” that not only tolerated sexual immorality, but almost celebrated as “clever and interesting” those who exhibited signs of “sexual depravity.” This changed outlook, in turn, led to increases in sexual crimes and contributed to “the great increase in the number of assaults on very young girls under 11 years old.”30 O’Duffy stated that most cases came to the attention of the gardaí accidentally and that, owing to a reluctance on the part of parents to report assaults against their children, the reported number of assaults was but a fraction of those that actually occurred.31 If O’Duffy was correct that reported cases represented less than 15 per cent of actual cases, then the number of sexual assaults that occurred throughout the country between 1924 and 1960 can be projected to have exceeded 10,000.32 O’Duffy was also right to be concerned about the ages of victims in sexual assaults. Of the nearly 1,500 reported sexual assaults against girls detailed in available court records, 81 per cent of the victims were seventeen years of age or younger. Fifty-five per cent were between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, 18 per cent were between the ages of ten and thirteen, and 8 per cent were nine years of age or younger.33

O’Duffy assumed that most of these assaults occurred in urban tenements, and that parental neglect was to blame: “Assaults on girls under the age of 10 usually occur in tenement dwellings in the absence of the parents or guardians. In most of the cases it would appear that the parents or guardians did not take proper precautions to guard against such offences … a section providing penalty for neglect by parents or guardians in such cases is recommended.”34 The inaccuracy of this conclusion about the conditions (p.122) under which sexual assaults occurred was borne out by O’Duffy's own evidence. According to garda statistics for 1929, as presented by O’Duffy to the Carrigan Committee, only six out of thirty-seven prosecutions for assaults of girls between ten and sixteen years occurred in urban areas, and only two in Dublin tenements. The remainder of these assaults occurred in rural or country areas, where one might have expected the less cramped living conditions combined with more traditional ties of family and community to offer a measure of protection to potentially vulnerable children. In portraying sexual crime as a predominantly urban problem, O’Duffy seems to have assumed that sexual immorality generally, and sexual offenses against children specifically, were “crimes of opportunity” rather than the actions of pathological or predatory individuals. Or perhaps he believed, as many people did at the time, in the image of rural chastity and piety that Eamon de Valera and other nationalists were so anxious to promote.

O’Duffy returned to the committee to continue his evidence on 6 November 1930. At that time he commented on thirty-four specific cases that had come to the notice of gardaí around the country in the previous ten months. One case involved a schoolgirl who was sexually assaulted by a man whom she had approached to sell a ticket of some kind. O’Duffy's solution was to “[suggest] to the Department of Education that school children should not be encouraged or permitted to engage in the selling of tickets outside of school hours.”35 Although O’Duffy was one of only a handful of witnesses who spoke openly and frankly about the extent of sexual assaults against young girls, his own assumptions about the roots of the problem implicitly blamed the victim and inhibited his ability to see the problem clearly.

O’Duffy's remedies amounted to saying that the only way to guarantee children's safety was to keep them under lock and key at home. Court records of incest cases show, however, that even this could not ensure children's safety. Given that O’Duffy's solution to the problem of sexual offences against children implied that the victim had put herself in a situation that made her vulnerable, or her parents had failed to protect her, it is no wonder that the courts tended to treat the cases that came before them with relative leniency.36 Nor is it surprising that the government failed to give the matter the serious attention it deserved. Finola Kennedy has suggested that there was a lack of knowledge that sexual offences against children were commonplace; it might be more accurate to say that the predominantly male establishment was unwilling or unable to understand the roots of the problem or deal with it effectively.

O’Duffy did, however, recommend that sexual offences against children be reclassified and that stiffer sentences be imposed on those (p.123) convicted of sexual crimes: “The adoption of severe preventive measures is not pre-mature, and in my recommendation I suggest that practically all the misdemeanours [including such offences as indecent assault] should be raised to felonies.”37 The fact that O’Duffy's recommendations were ignored in the final version of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act suggests that not everyone shared this view. O’Duffy further suggested that “for all offences against girls under 13 years of age, I take the responsibility of very strongly recommending the ‘cat’ – not a few strokes, but the most severe application the medical advisor will permit, having regard only to the physical condition and health of the offender.”38 Finally, O’Duffy criticized court justices for not availing of the maximum sentences provided under existing law: “Worse still, judges have not been imposing the extreme penalties allowed. To impose a sentence of six months on, or to fine a ruffian who destroys the innocence of a child under 13 is farcical.”39

In drafting the 1935 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act lawmakers ignored all of O’Duffy's recommendations. The Minister for Justice, P.J. Ruttledge, rejected the recommendation with regard to minimum sentences because he believed that in many cases “the sympathies of the court may be more in favour of the accused than the accusor.”40 Here again, the evidence suggests that, far from doubting the evidence presented in the Carrigan report, government officials were more concerned with protecting men from wayward or, worse, predatory girls than with addressing the problem of sexual assaults against children. He seems to have assumed that in the majority of cases of sexual assaults that came before the courts, an all-male jury would be more inclined to believe the male defendant's rather than the female victim's version of events.

O’Duffy was correct to criticize court justices for their “farcical” sentences, but he overlooked a significant constraint faced by court justices when dealing with young victims: the inadmissibility of the uncorroborated evidence of children, particularly children who were too young to understand the concept of giving evidence under oath. Dermot Gleeson, a district justice from County Clare, addressed this point in his testimony before the Carrigan Committee. Gleeson was less concerned with the fact or extent of sexual assaults against young children than with the admissibility of their evidence in court:

in the case where the witness is a child not fit to be sworn, the rules of evidence regarding the admission of extraneous evidence might be enlarged. He [Gleeson] considered that the form of caution … given by the Judge (when charging the jury as to the danger or absence of safety in their relying on the uncorroborated evidence of such young person) had a bad effect. In many cases of this kind the jury acquitted the person though his guilt was apparent.41

(p.124) Gleeson recommended that “the attempt to carnally know a girl should be equally punishable without proof of actual penetration at all events in the case of a child under 14.”42

Hannah Clarke, an ISPCC inspector, echoed Justice Gleeson's concern about the inadmissibility of children's evidence:

men who had assaulted little girls under 10 years very often escaped conviction owing to the lack of evidence. She [Clarke] suggested that to meet the difficulty the law of evidence might be amended to the effect that when the child assaulted had at once made an outcry or complaint the sworn statement of the person to whom such complaint or outcry had been made should be treated as corroborative evidence; men who assaulted little girls under 10 years appear to be well aware of the loophole of the inadmissibility of the uncorroborated evidence of their victims.43

Neither Gleeson's nor Clarke's recommendations with regard to the admissibility of the evidence of very young victims were heeded when the 1935 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act was passed, because the Minister for Justice believed that “on the whole it would be preferable to allow some offenders to escape justice than run the risk of convicting anyone unjustly.”44 Once again, government officials put specifically masculine concerns ahead of the best interests of vulnerable or victimized children.

The Carrigan Committee presented its report to the Minister for Justice, James Fitzgerald-Kenney in August 1931.45 The committee concluded that “the cogency and unanimity of the evidence laid before us leave no doubt that gross offences are rife throughout the country of a nature from which it [the Irish state] could formerly claim a degree of immunity that may perhaps have lulled it into a false state of security.”46 The report was both scathing in its indictment of the moral conditions that existed throughout the country, and unforgiving in its recommendations for dealing with offenders. It painted a picture of Irish society entirely at odds with the image of Ireland that the government had tried to promote because it undermined the traditional image of piety, purity, and morality.

There is no evidence that Minister for Justice Fitzgerald-Kenney commented on the Carrigan report before he left office in March 1932. His successor, James Geoghegan (who was in office for just 11 months, from March 1932 to February 1933), was reluctant to give the report any credence, although this may have stemmed more from concern that the report would provide fodder for Ireland's “enemies” abroad than from genuine disbelief in the legitimacy or veracity of the committee's conclusions.47 Geoghegan concluded that “[apart] from the question as to whether the Report should be adopted, is the question whether it should be published. The view of the Department of Justice is that it should not be published. (p.125) It contains numerous sweeping charges against the state of morality of the Saorstat and even if these statements were true, there would be little point in giving them currency.”48 Geoghegan went on to say that “[unless] these statements are exaggerated … the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the ordinary feelings of decency and the influence of religion have failed in this country and that the only remedy is by way of police action. It is clearly undesirable that such a view of conditions in the Saorstat should be given wide circulation.”49 The conclusion one might reach is that it was not the report's conclusions that concerned Geoghegan, but whether those conclusions should be made public.

Geoghegan circulated the report to members of the Executive Council (made up primarily of ministers from the various government departments) in December 1932. The accompanying memorandum played down the report's conclusions and counseled caution and skepticism in accepting the Carrigan Committee's findings:

On the whole the Report should be taken with reserve. It leaves the impression that the authors did not face their task in a judicial and impartial frame of mind. Their recommendations are invariably to increase penalties, create offences, and remove existing safeguards for persons charged. Their main concern seems to be to secure convictions: they do not consider the case of a man charged in the wrong.50

The minister here echoed concerns first raised by lawmakers in 1930 that changes to the law might leave men vulnerable to blackmail or false rape charges. He rejected the report's findings on two grounds: first, that the committee made sweeping allegations and generalizations about the state of morality in the country without providing substantial supporting evidence; and, second, that the committee had failed to take evidence from a “devil's advocate” who might have provided an opposing viewpoint, or from a circuit or high court justice who had dealt with the issues first-hand.51 The Executive Council was as alarmed as the Minister for Justice at the state of affairs depicted in the report, so much so that they agreed unanimously not to make the report available to the public or, indeed, to the members of the Dáil who had requested the inquiry in the first place.

While critical of the report's shortcomings, particularly its failure to hear evidence from “devil's advocates” or court justices, the Minister for Justice's memorandum to the Executive Council acknowledged that “unless these statements [made by witnesses before the Committee] are exaggerated, the obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the ordinary feelings of decency and the influence of religion have failed in this country and that the only remedy is by way of police action. It is clearly undesirable that such a view of conditions in the State should be given wide circulation [emphasis added].”52 (p.126) The government's primary concern was, thus, not whether the report's allegations were true, or whether young children might be vulnerable to sexual assaults on a wide scale, but whether the attention of the general public (both inside and outside of Ireland) should be drawn to such a state of affairs.

More than three years passed between the presentation of the Carrigan report to the Executive Council in 1932 and the introduction in the Dáil of a second Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill in June 1934. It was agreed that an informal parliamentary committee, made up of seven members including the current Minister for Justice (Ruttledge), the former Minister for Justice (James Geoghegan), the attorney general, and representatives from each of the parliamentary parties, would draft the legislation and then present it to the full Dáil as a fait accompli. This informal committee expected the Dáil to rubber-stamp the legislation without discussion or debate. It was further agreed that “any minority on the Committee would be bound by the decision of the majority and would not press their point of view on committee stage or elsewhere.”53 While the government recognized the need to act on the Carrigan Committee's recommendations, it intended to stifle debate and silence opposition. It succeeded: the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act came into force in February 1935 with no debate or dissent.

The Carrigan Committee was important for what it revealed about attitudes toward sexual assaults against children in twentieth-century Ireland. Although the Carrigan Committee's primary objective was to investigate the extent of sexual offenses in the country, and especially those against young girls, many witnesses were more concerned with juvenile prostitution than with sexual assaults, and they often portrayed girls as more victimizers than victims. Witnesses gave evidence about the nature of sexual offenses against young girls that was not borne out by evidence from actual court cases; this misguided view of the problem would have hindered the government's ability to protect victims had they been inclined to do so (although it seems clear, based on the Carrigan report and its aftermath that they were not so inclined).

All segments of Irish society had some knowledge or experience of sexual assaults against children during the first half of the twentieth century. Parents warned their children away from particular individuals, or took steps to protect their children when they suspected assaults had taken place or were about to take place. Similarly, district and circuit court justices acknowledged the extent to which very young children were victimized, and voiced frustration at the constraints imposed by existing law in punishing offenders. But government and religious officials were more concerned with how (p.127) publicizing the issue would make Ireland appear on the international front or to “our enemies,” as the Reverend M.J. Browne put it in his response to a Department of Justice memorandum.54 And, as has become abundantly clear from the government's obsession with suppressing the Carrigan report in the 1930s, government ministers were well aware of the extent of sexual crimes against children in the first half of the twentieth century. However, political agendas and priorities prevented them from acknowledging the extent of the problem, accepting responsibility for protecting children, or punishing perpetrators as they deserved to be punished.

Exporting the “problem”: American adoptions of Irish children

For many illegitimate Irish children, adoption by an American family under American adoption laws provided the only alternative to institutional life or an insecure informal adoption or fostering arrangement in Ireland. The legality of sending Irish children out of the state for adoption under foreign laws was scarcely questioned by those involved in the process; civil servants and Catholic agencies were concerned only that the children in question were sent to “good” Catholic homes. Indeed, the hierarchy and civil servants were so concerned with the Catholic question that they refused to allow children to be removed to Northern Ireland or England for adoption lest they fall into the hands of Protestant families or proselytizers.55 On the surface, those involved in the unofficial adoption scheme expressed reservations about the wisdom of sending children out of the state for adoption. In fact, however, it was an ideal solution for most of the parties concerned.

Margaret Humphreys and Gillian Wagner have examined the practice, from the 1870s to the 1950s, of sending “unwanted” children from orphanages and industrial schools in Britain to institutions and families in the farthest reaches of the empire, both as a means of disposing of the “problem” at home and perpetuating a white, British population throughout the empire.56 Orphaned and abandoned children (some of whom were Irish-born) who came into state care became pawns in Britain's late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century empire-building strategies. Similarly, the institutionalization or overseas adoption of Irish children served as a counterweight to the “paganism” and “liberalism” allegedly inherent in British colonial rule, and protected innocent Irish children from the “evil” clutches of proselytizers even as it denied them constitutional rights and individual identities. The removal of children from their homes and families also helped to protect the veneer of “respectability,” piety, and morality that supposedly distinguished the native Irish government's rule from that of the former Protestant colonizer. The ends may have differed, (p.128) but the politicization of definitions and policies relating to childhood in Ireland mirrored those elsewhere in Europe in spite of early nationalist leaders’ insistence on the importance and value of children in the life of the new state.

For religious orders, who operated the mother and baby homes and “adoption” societies from which the majority of children were adopted, overseas adoptions solved an accommodation problem that often reached crisis proportions when babies were born or admitted faster than they could be boarded-out or sent to industrial schools. Sending children to America also relieved local authorities of the financial burden of maintaining them in industrial schools, extern institutions, or foster homes. The only player who did not win, in the official sense, was the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Because of its role in issuing passports to facilitate the removal of children from Ireland, the DFA left itself open to allegations that it encouraged and indeed fostered emigration at a time when the Irish population was in a steady decline due to low birth rates and high emigration. But as long as the Catholic hierarchy in Dublin sanctioned the scheme the Department of Foreign Affairs facilitated it. However, it was not the DFA but the hierarchy, and in particular John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin from 1940–1972, who determined the conditions under which passports would be issued to allow children to leave the state for adoption.

It is not possible to ascertain, from available evidence, the number of children sent to America under the informal adoption scheme.57 The DFA began keeping statistics only in 1950; from the beginning of 1950 through October 1952 the DFA issued 330 passports for children to travel to America for adoption.58 Anecdotal evidence suggests that children were exported to America from as early as 1940, with one agency alone, St Patrick's Guild of Dublin, arranging sixty-one American adoptions between 1948 and 1950.59 However, official statistics are not an accurate indication either of the time frame in which the adoptions occurred, or the numerical extent of the practice. Department of Foreign Affairs files reveal that some American couples brought Irish children home without a passport under the United States Displaced Persons Act of 1948.60 Other couples, mostly US servicemen stationed in England, registered the births of illegitimate Irish children as their own biological children.61 Given the apparent ease with which some couples secured and removed children without passports, or registered illegitimate Irish children as their own, the practice was clearly more widespread than statistics would suggest and, likely, than government officials or philanthropic agencies would wish to admit.

It is easy to understand why charitable agencies seized on overseas (p.129) adoptions as a solution to what they regarded as an overwhelming problem. Letters from religious-based philanthropic agencies to Archbishop McQuaid illustrated their dilemma: “Girls are flocking here daily, some of them in great distress, and the best I can do for them is to hold out hope that they might be relieved in December or the New Year. Many of them will become disheartened, no doubt, and who can be sure that the children will be safe.”62 There is little doubt that charitable agencies received more requests for assistance than their human or financial resources could grant. Many women turned to these agencies in desperation, often after being rejected by their families or fired from employment when their pregnancies were discovered; many more gave birth in county homes, mother and baby homes, or private nursing homes, and then were encouraged or coerced into giving up their children.

But it also must be remembered that the philosophy that underpinned the majority of charitable Catholic institutions and agencies was the firm conviction that unmarried mothers were fundamentally unfit to have custody of their own children. Pressure was brought to bear on many unmarried mothers, even those who might have been inclined to keep their children, to relinquish custody to agencies that then boarded them out or sent them overseas for adoption. Those involved in the overseas adoption scheme justified the practice on the grounds that it was virtually impossible to convince Irish families to adopt illegitimate children. This claim is somewhat dubious in light of the fact that inspectors’ reports on boarded-out children consistently referred to foster families who wished to adopt the children entrusted to their care.63 Additionally, in the first year of legal adoption the Adoption Board received 2,500 requests for adoption orders, and thereafter received at least twice as many applications as could be processed in a year.64

In spite of the legal and ethical dilemmas that the overseas adoption policy presented, healthy children were sent out of the state in their hundreds, if not thousands, from the 1940s into the 1960s.65 American couples acquired illegitimate Irish children almost for the asking, earning Ireland a reputation, particularly among American servicemen stationed in England, as a “happy hunting ground” for healthy white babies.66 In some cases American couples called on institutions in person to inquire about adopting a child; other hopeful adoptive parents wrote to convents or adoption societies such as St Patrick's Guild requesting that a child be sent to them.67 In virtually all cases children were sent with a minimum of paperwork and very little fuss. Preliminary transactions often occurred through the mail, the adopted child was accompanied to America by a paid attendant, and no one in a position of responsibility ever met the adopting family or inspected (p.130) their home and qualifications, and the adoptive parents did not meet the child until he or she actually arrived in their home. Adoption societies were so eager to secure adoptive families for the children in their charge that, at least until 1950, they required little or no information about an adopting couple's background, home life, or financial position. All they required was an affidavit in which the adopting parents undertook to raise the adopted child as a Catholic (although ironically the couple did not have to prove that they were practicing Catholics). These overseas adoptions carried on, in virtual silence and secrecy, from the early 1940s until 1950, when two high-profile incidents shattered official complacency on the matter. These incidents marked a turning point in Ireland's adoption policy: the first set of circumstances prompted Archbishop McQuaid to shut down overseas adoptions temporarily until guidelines could be put into place to regulate them, while the second forced the government's hand in introducing adoption legislation.

In March 1950 the New York Times published a story about six Irish children departing from Shannon Airport for adoption by American couples. The story explained that the children had come from St Patrick's Home in Dublin and were accompanied by Miss Nora O’Sullivan, a nurse from the institution.68 This press attention, coming on the heels of earlier news accounts of wealthy American businessmen flying to Ireland specifically to adopt Irish babies, prompted Archbishop McQuaid to demand that philanthropic agencies suspend overseas adoptions until his staff could fully consider the issue.69 He also instructed his leading advisor, Cecil Barrett, to initiate a ban on publicity at Shannon Airport.70 At the same time Department of Health officials, who previously had played only a marginal role in the overseas adoption process, began to raise questions about the “character, suitability and religion” of potential adopters who were able to remove children from the state without undergoing a vetting or screening process, and seemingly without following U.S. immigration laws. Yet, it was not these practices in themselves, but the international press that the adoptions attracted, that caused concern and embarrassment among church and government officials. It is a testament to McQuaid's power and influence that the publicity blackout remained unchallenged domestically for almost two years.

The second incident, which forced the government into action on the adoption issue, involved the Hollywood film star Jane Russell, who traveled to Ireland in late 1951 with the intention of adopting a child:

I hoped I would be able to find a boy in Europe, but it seems to be impossible … the British law will not allow me to take a child from England. In Italy I could not get a child because I am under 40; and, anyway, there were difficulties (p.131) because Italy is a Catholic country and I am a Protestant. Now I have been advised to try Ireland; but I am worried in case the same difficulties would arise there. My husband is Irish, and he would very much like to adopt an Irish baby. If it is possible, I would like to fly to Dublin this week to pick out a child and make all the arrangements for bringing him to America.71

A member of the Church of Ireland Moral Welfare Organisation advised Russell that she would be unable to adopt a child from a Protestant institution or agency without the requisite home studies and background investigations, so Russell set her sights on a young Irish boy who resided with his parents in England. The chain of events that led Russell from Ireland to England is sketchy at best, but somehow Russell convinced an Irish couple, the Kavanaghs, to allow her to adopt their son Tommy, and within hours the Irish legation in London issued a passport in Tommy Kavanagh's name.

The British press gave considerable coverage to the incident, which in turn fueled a flurry of reports in other international newspapers about Ireland's adoption policy.72 Irish legation staff in London insisted that they had acted correctly as, in spite of the press that had already surrounded the case, Russell swore that she was taking Kavanagh to the United States for “a holiday,” and Kavanagh's own father had applied for the passport. The Department of Foreign Affairs responded by issuing the following memo to all Irish legations and consulates abroad:

As from the receipt of this minute, we would be glad if you would refer to the Department any application for a passport made to you by or on behalf of a person of either sex under the age of 18 years … You may have noticed in the Irish papers of the beginning of last week a reference to a case in which the Embassy at London granted a passport to an infant, on the application by the father, and that the child was subsequently brought to the United States by an American film actress. The whole business received a great amount of undesirable publicity in the Press (particularly the English Sunday papers of the 11th inst.) and the reason for this instruction is that we wish to ensure that an Irish passport will not again be issued in such circumstances.73

Although Russell's adoption of Tommy Kavanagh violated both British law and Irish regulations, and shortly after returning to the United States Russell admitted that she was considering returning Kavanagh to his parents because she really wanted a girl, it was the ridicule to which Ireland was subjected in the foreign press, and not the violations of law or concern for Tommy Kavanagh's welfare, that precipitated official action on the matter.

When Archbishop McQuaid undertook to regulate the overseas adoption scheme, following the New York Times story, religion was the defining issue, as it would be in the debates about the 1952 Adoption Bill. These regulations required that prospective adopters produce a number (p.132) of documents including a sworn affidavit of their religious devotion and their willingness to raise and educate adopted children in the Catholic faith; a recommendation from the diocesan director of Catholic Charities branches in the United States; financial statements; and “medical certificates for both adopters, stating ages, and that they are not deliberately shirking natural parenthood.”74 Prospective adopters also were supposed to undergo a home study conducted by Catholic Charities, an American Catholic organization with branches throughout the country. However, a leading official of Catholic Charities admitted to DFA officials in 1955 not only that many of the home studies relied more on the word of the prospective adopters themselves, and references from family and friends, than on the assessment of qualified social workers, but also that “the Catholic Charities Organisation was not in fact equipped at all its Branches to deal satisfactorily with adoptions.”75 In other words, while the home study theoretically was the centerpiece of Archbishop McQuaid's regulations, in fact it did little to ensure that adopting couples were suitable in every way to adopt Irish children, and paper religious guarantees remained the sole factor upon which decisions were made regarding the issue of passports for the purpose of adoption.

The state's reluctance to play an active role in the regulation of overseas adoptions persisted following the implementation of McQuaid's regulations. The DFA issued a standard response to all requests for information on overseas adoption: “This department has no function in connection with the adoption, outside the State, of Irish children beyond the issue of a Passport to enable the child to travel.”76 This reluctance stemmed in part from a desire not to infringe on the church's authority in matters of faith and morals, as revealed in this exchange between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice, in which Justice declined to facilitate a background check on a potential adoptive family on the grounds that the hierarchy might object: “A more substantial ground of refusal was, however, that we might lay ourselves open to accusation from high places that we were facilitating the adoption of a child by a person not of the religion in which the child was being reared or not of the religion of one or other of the parents. Very delicate questions might arise and it was felt that Departments of State should keep clear.”77

DFA officials were well aware that the government had, in the late 1940s, established the Committee on Emigration and Other Population Problems to examine Ireland's population crisis and recommend solutions, and they would have been placed in an awkward position if their activities in the area of adoption had come to light at such a critical time. This was particularly true given that the percentage of the population in the 0–14 (p.133) years age group fell consistently from 1901, and began to level off only in 1951.78 The policies set forth by Archbishop McQuaid, and fastidiously upheld by relevant government departments, highlight the extent to which the hierarchy, and especially Archbishop McQuaid, manipulated government agencies in determining the fate of illegitimate children. Some Irish children were placed with American families that, on paper, appeared to be “good Catholics,” but were found wanting in other ways. Meanwhile, others remained in institutions because potential adopters who might have made excellent parents could not meet Archbishop McQuaid's religious test.79

While it would be easy to fault agencies and individuals of church and state for the callousness with which illegitimate children were treated, one could argue that official attitudes merely reflected a more general hostility within society toward illegitimate children and their mothers. Illegitimate children were institutionalized, or sent overseas for adoption, precisely because their mothers could not or would not keep them, and because their extended families and communities refused to acknowledge or accept them. There was an absence of public opinion in Ireland surrounding the care and protection of children that made it easy for church and state to conspire in sending illegitimate children overseas in virtual secrecy. This secrecy and silence are in part an indication of the success of Archbishop McQuaid's press blackout, but it also epitomized the prevailing attitude toward children, and particularly illegitimate children. It would seem that no one cared enough about the plight of illegitimate children to question or object to the practice of sending children overseas, or to demand that the state accept responsibility for providing for children at home in ways that served children's best interests rather than political or religious agendas.

Church, state, and adoption legislation

By lawmakers’ own admission, Ireland lagged woefully behind their western counterparts when they introduced adoption legislation in 1952.80 And yet, when lawmakers finally did act on the issue they did so not because they acknowledged the utility of legislation but because they were, literally, shamed into it by foreign press coverage of Ireland's informal and unregulated adoption practice. Not only did the Jane Russell incident prompt a flurry of negative reports in the foreign media, it also raised a host of questions in the Dáil, where individual TDs demanded an account from government ministers on the practice and extent of overseas adoption.81 Once the “secret” was out public opinion began to coalesce around the issue, leaving lawmakers with no choice but to act.

(p.134) Given the general lack of concern on the part of both church and state for the fate of illegitimate children adopted overseas, perhaps it is not surprising that there was no sense of urgency to initiate legislation that would legalize adoption at home and either regulate or ban the overseas process. Government officials argued, until the Jane Russell incident put the issue on the national agenda, that adoption legislation was unnecessary because there was no public demand, and no apparent need, for it:

No pressing need for legislation on this subject has been felt in Ireland until relatively recently. In recent years there has been demand for enactment of legislation enabling the adoption of children. This has arisen, partly as a result of the activities of certain aliens who wish to adopt Irish children and held out the inducement of large sums of money to induce Irish parents to allow their children to be taken out of the country. To deal with this situation the government have recently decided to introduce a Bill to legalise adoption in the case of illegitimate and orphan children.82

At the same time, lawmakers conceded that by the time the issue was discussed in the Dáil many county councils, trade unions, and other interested parties (including Department of Health inspectors of boarded-out children) had been agitating for adoption legislation for nearly a decade.83 The Legal Adoption Society of Ireland, founded in 1948, was established for the sole purpose of lobbying for legislation that would allow for the transfer of parental rights from biological to adoptive parents.84 And as early as 1944 the Joint Committee of Women's Societies and Society Workers had begun exploring the possibilities for legal adoption, and pressuring the government to enact adoption legislation.85

As early as 1939 a question was raised in the Dáil about the introduction of adoption legislation primarily, it seems, on the basis of representations from Department of Health inspectors who could attest, from first-hand experience, to the potential benefits of adoption legislation. However, the Catholic Protection and Rescue Society and other Catholic agencies made representations of their own pointing out the “undesirable results” that could stem from adoption legislation.86 In 1946 civil servants in the Department of Justice engaged in discussions with members of the hierarchy and with leading theologians from St Patrick's College, Maynooth, on the possibility of introducing adoption legislation that was not contrary to Catholic teaching. At this time proposals were put forward that would ensure that adoptive parents shared the religious persuasion of the child they proposed to adopt. In other words, by 1946 not only was the government fully aware of the need for adoption legislation, but Department of Justice officials had already formulated the religious safeguards that were central to the 1952 Adoption Act.87

(p.135) In private, government officials admitted the real reason that adoption legislation was not forthcoming before 1952: an unwillingness to enact legislation that might infringe on the church's authority, and the difficulty of convincing Archbishop McQuaid that the proposals put forward as early as 1939 would effectively protect Catholic children from being adopted by non-Catholic families.88 In an address to the King's Inn Law Students’ Debating Society in 1951, Attorney General C.F. Casey voiced the government's dilemma:

The subject … had received much publicity in recent years and efforts had been made to prevail upon the Government to introduce legislation dealing with it, and severe criticism on this has been leveled against the Government for its failure to introduce a Bill. I would ask those who are concerned on this topic to be patient and to avoid emotion … This country is a predominantly Catholic country. That does not mean that Parliament should penalise any other creed, but it does mean this, that Parliament cannot surely be asked to introduce legislation contrary to the teaching of that great Church.89

Casey's statement implicitly acknowledged that there was sufficient public opinion to warrant a fuller discussion of adoption than had yet occurred, but also that, short of an absolute disaster (such as the Jane Russell fiasco), the government would take its cues on the matter from the hierarchy. In delaying the introduction of adoption legislation until they were forced into it, lawmakers placed church–state relations above the well-being and best interests of thousands of illegitimate Irish children who would have benefited enormously from having stable, loving adoptive homes.

Adoption became a hot political issue in 1952 not because of a newfound sense of responsibility on the part of the state for the well-being of unwanted children, or a sudden realization of the need for adoption legislation. Rather, a series of embarrassing and highly critical reports in the foreign press about Ireland's overseas adoption practices, brought to light by the Jane Russell incident, forced church and state to compromise in order to avoid further embarrassment. While McQuaid's blackout on publicity at home proved to be extraordinarily effective, not even McQuaid could control the foreign press's treatment of Ireland's overseas adoption practice. The most damning and worrying article appeared in 1951 in the German 8 Uhr Blatt newspaper, in response to English press coverage of the Russell case.90 The article struck a nerve with both the hierarchy and government departments because it raised the specter of a black-market baby ring that allegedly sold “unwanted” Irish children to the highest American bidder, the irony being that while Irish agencies were willing to do almost anything to rid themselves of the moral and financial burden of caring for illegitimate children, American couples were willing to pay dearly for the privilege of (p.136) adopting healthy, white Irish babies even if they were illegitimate.

According to a Department of Foreign Affairs translation of the 8 Uhr Blatt article, an Irish welfare worker in England accused the Irish government of turning a blind eye to the export and sale of Irish children: “‘Our country has today become a sort of hunting ground for foreign millionaires who believe they can acquire children to suit their whims just in the same way as they would get valuable pedigree animals. In the last few months more than one hundred children have left Ireland, without any official organisation being in a position to make any enquiries as to their future habitat.’”91 Department of Foreign Affairs officials were hard-pressed to refute the article's allegations and simply wondered at the source of the author's information. Irish legation staff in Bonn wanted to demand a retraction from 8 Uhr Blatt editors but DFA staff advised against this: “I have to say it is our considered opinion that no such action should be taken – more especially so since, with the exception of the figures given, the article is largely not incorrect.”92 It is indicative of the ambiguous legal and ethical position in which overseas adoptions placed the government, as well as the illegitimate children involved, that government ministers and civil servants were unable to defend themselves against 8 Uhr Blatt’s allegations.

Negative press coverage forced the government to take action on the issue of adoption but, true to form, government officials took their cue from the hierarchy. The first reference in official sources to government ministers actively discussing an adoption bill appeared in Department of Foreign Affairs files in May 1952. However, earlier that year, in January 1952, the hierarchy's Episcopal Committee issued a statement that laid out the position from the Catholic point of view, and this position paper served as the basis for subsequent adoption legislation.93 The hierarchy acknowledged the state's right to provide for children, and in particular to ensure that “unwanted” children were given good homes, but not at the expense of their Catholic faith and birthright. On the other hand, children's officers and social workers argued that adoption legislation should serve the best interests of vulnerable children and would merely regularize relationships already in existence, albeit without the protection of law. In the end, the state deferred to the hierarchy rather than the “experts” in formulating adoption policy. The fact that lawmakers were willing to defer to the archbishop on such matters, and to place religious obligations above their own civic responsibility to one group of Irish citizens – illegitimate children – lends credence to the view, held among some critics in the 1950s, that Ireland was a confessional state with Archbishop McQuaid the equivalent of an “ecclesiastical Taoiseach.”94

Lawmakers’ singular obsession with religious as opposed to more (p.137) worldly (and, one could argue, pragmatic) concerns is further underscored by a comparison of the debates on adoption that occurred in the British Parliament in 1925–26, and the Dáil in 1952. The primary distinctions centered on differing perceptions of the state's responsibility for children who lacked the protection and care of “natural” or “normal” families, how far the state could and should go in protecting the rights of the natural mother, and the role of a religious test in assessing the fitness of prospective adopters. Unlike their Irish counterparts, British MPs highlighted the benefits that would accrue to the state as a result of legalized adoption:

I feel – and I believe my views are shared very largely by all Members of the House – that the English character has been built up on home life. God knows, some of the homes are not worthy of the name; but nevertheless, there is a spirit even in the meanest tenement that has developed the British character, which has made the British nation what it is. I find, too, that institution life tends very largely to a return to institution life, either in the form of prison, workhouse, or homes of that description. It saps the independence of character. It tends to make men, at any rate, with less moral fibre than we associate with the average Britisher. To a person who has been brought up in an institution – even a good institution – prison has not the same horror that it has to the average man or woman, and we complete the vicious circle very often, as magistrates well know, with people who have been brought up to appreciate institution life. Therefore, I welcome the Bill, because I think it will assist us to enable orphan children to be brought back into the normal life of the nation, and to become normal citizens.95

The practical benefits that would result from adoption legislation were all but ignored by Irish lawmakers.

Virtually all British MPs who spoke in support of the Adoption Bill insisted that an adoptive family was a far better environment for a needy and vulnerable child than even the best institution, and they acknowledged that wealth and religion alone did not determine a family's ability to love and care for an adopted child. Under British law, a couple wishing to adopt had to file a petition with the courts and submit to a thorough home and background study. Only people resident in England and Wales were eligible to adopt, and only children who were similarly resident could be adopted. As one MP pointed out, the state retained responsibility for adopted children's well-being even after the court issued an adoption order; allowing people to remove children from the state would also remove those children from the protection and jurisdiction of the British court system.96 This is in stark contrast to the Irish overseas adoption practice, where government departments and charitable agencies disclaimed all responsibility for children once they left the state. In a further effort to protect children from unsuitable foster parents, British law authorized courts to issue interim (p.138) adoption orders for a two-year period of assessment and supervision.

Although British legislation was concerned primarily with safeguarding the physical and emotional well-being of illegitimate children, British lawmakers also acknowledged the hardships and pressures faced by biological mothers who gave their children up for adoption. The law prohibited the making of an adoption order without the mother's consent, and it required magistrates to “be fully satisfied that the parties understand the nature and effect of the proposed transaction and are acting of their own free will,” in other words to ensure that women giving children up for adoption were not pressured into doing so, and understood the irrevocable termination of parental rights that adoption entailed.97 British legislation implicitly recognized that, just as some women might in desperation seek unsuitable alternatives for dealing with an unwanted child, so too many women were pressured into giving their children up for adoption, either by religious institutions who thought they knew best, or by desperate couples willing to pay hefty fees for the privilege of adopting a healthy white child. The question of maternal rights, as well as the best interests of the child, were consistently ignored in the Irish debates.

The most conspicuous distinction between the British and Irish debates was the role of religion in matching children with adoptive families. British legislation acknowledged the importance of religious faith but also insisted that religion was not the most important criteria for determining the suitability of adoptive parents:

In these matters we have, first of all, to consider the welfare of the infants. I am not for a moment suggesting that the question of religious belief is not a most important thing, but it is not the only thing, and if we put in the Clause words which make it peremptory that the only person who can adopt a child must be of the same religious faith we may be doing something which in certain cases may be against the interests of the child. Of course, due regard will always be paid to this matter, but I ask the House to leave it to the discretion of the tribunal which will have all the facts before it, and which will see that full consideration is given to the paramount welfare of the infant.98

The child-centered tone of the British debates contrasts sharply with the obsessive concern among Irish lawmakers with questions of religion and faith, at the expense of the rights and interests of children and their biological parents.

The differences between British and Irish lawmakers’ approach to the adoption issue reflect an investment, on the part of Irish lawmakers, in a particular concept of family life as the foundation of social life and stability. This is not to suggest that British lawmakers discounted the importance of the family, or that vulnerable British children necessarily fared better than their Irish counterparts, but rather that the British conceptualization of (p.139) “family” was broad enough to include families consisting of two parents and adopted and biological children, and also families comprised of unmarried women or men and adopted children. Although Irish lawmakers were willing to solve the problem of illegitimacy by establishing “non-traditional” families, neither lawmakers nor members of the hierarchy anticipated displacing the traditional, nuclear family as the foundation of Irish social life and in fact were adamant that adoption legislation not “substitute an artificial for a natural family.”99 The language of the Episcopal Committee's statement regarding the place of the family in Irish society was inserted virtually verbatim into Minister for Justice Boland's opening statement on the Adoption Bill:

The Constitution recognises the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law. The purpose of this Bill is not to allow the relationship of adoption to be substituted for the family, but to enable children who do not belong to a family, to secure through adoption the benefits of the family.100

Because officials were concerned that adoption not supplant or alter “natural” or “appropriate” models of family organization, unmarried people were prohibited from adopting except where an unmarried woman petitioned to adopt a child who was related to her by blood (the same did not apply to unmarried men wishing to adopt blood relatives).

The adoption of legitimate children also presented a challenge in the context of the government's conceptualization of “normal” or appropriate family composition. In his speech presenting the Adoption Bill to the Dáil, Minister for Justice Boland stressed that the government could only legalize the adoption of illegitimate children:

I am advised … that there is a danger that the Bill would be held to be unconstitutional if it provided for the adoption of legitimate children whose parents are alive. The Constitution declares the rights and duties of parents towards their children to be inalienable, and any provision for the permanent transfer of those rights and duties, even with the consent of the parents, might be unconstitutional. The main need for adoption arises in connection with orphans and illegitimate children.101

Here is a clear statement that constitutional rights were not seen to apply to unmarried mothers or their children. Even under the informal, pre–1952 adoptions, DFA officials were quite willing to issue passports to allow illegitimate children to travel overseas for adoption, so long as Archbishop McQuaid approved, but they consistently refused passports to legitimate, even orphaned, children.

Their refusal was linked to their understanding of parental and family (p.140) rights enshrined in the 1937 Constitution, as outlined in a 1954 internal DFA memo relating to the adoption of a legitimate child:

In my view it would not be proper for us to issue such a Passport [to a legitimate child of parents still living] notwithstanding that on the face of it the child's material interests might well be best served by facilitating her adoption. It is relevant to remark in this connection that our own adoption law does not envisage the adoption of legitimate children under any circumstances. This no doubt is based on the principle of the State maintaining so far as is in its power the unity of the family, which is enshrined in the Constitution … In the light of the above my view is that … having regard to the terms of Articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution, it would not be open to the parents of this child to execute a valid surrender of the child to a third party, and that consequently the Department could not consider the issue of a Passport in a case such as this.102

Yet not all civil servants agreed with this interpretation:

the Constitution insists upon the natural and imprescriptible rights of the family and refers throughout to the parents, that is to say, both to the mother and the father. It is clear therefore that the Constitution so far from imposing a restriction on the family, recognises that it is entirely free to carry out its own moral obligations which are anterior to positive law. For this reason, if a parent wishes to allow his child to be adopted in America, there is nothing in the Constitution to prohibit it.103

The seeming conflict in these two interpretations was one of form more than substance. There was no question that “legitimate” parents possessed fundamental, “inalienable” rights. What was at issue was how best to protect those rights; the question at the center of the debate was whether the state had the right to override a parent's decision to give his or her legitimate children up for adoption. And yet, the fact that illegitimate children were sent out of the state with no official oversight or regulation, and sometimes without the consent of their mothers, suggests that the constitution would be used to protect the rights only of those who conformed to the state's image of a “normal” family. Adoption legislation represented an implicit acknowledgment on the part of lawmakers that those who fell outside the pale were not entitled to full participation, as citizens, in the life of the state, or to full constitutional rights and protections as parents. Indeed, the irony in this debate was that while legitimate children could not be adopted, in Ireland or abroad, even with their parents’ consent, an unmarried mother's consent was not required to send an illegitimate child overseas for adoption.

Although the Adoption Act was intended to remedy the defects of the informal overseas adoption, it did not stop the outward flow of children and, in fact, the safeguards established to regulate the adoption of children at home did not apply to overseas adoptions. The debate on this question (p.141) is revealing and indicative of the fundamental lack of concern on the part of church and state for the fate of illegitimate children. Some TDs insisted that the Act would prevent children from being sent to America for adoption:

We could see these children being taken out, being placed in an aeroplane and going right across to the United States of America to be adopted by parents of whom we had no knowledge except the amount of money they might have for that purpose. There were no precautions in regard to that adoption and nothing could be done about it. The children could be adopted, flown across the Atlantic to America and kept there where they would be under no control of our Minister or of our courts. Under this Bill, they will be under the control of the Minister and of the board set up under this Bill when it becomes an Act, and under the control of this House, if needs be. Deputy Rooney: Does the Deputy mean that the practice will be stopped? Deputy Cowan: Yes, the Bill prohibits it. Deputy Boland: It makes it illegal. Deputy Lynch: It proposes imprisonment if it is contravened.104

In fact, the Act did not halt the exodus of children or enact measures to protect the civil and legal rights of children who were removed from the state, and it certainly did not provide for the imprisonment of people who removed children from the state for the purpose of adoption. The only change in the overseas adoption practice was the introduction of a minimum age for removing a child from the state. This measure was aimed not at protecting the child but at preventing proselytism, as it was based on the assumption that desperate mothers would willingly hand newborn infants over to any individual or organization, including Protestant ones, that offered assistance. Imposing an age restriction theoretically reduced the element of desperation that the Catholic hierarchy assumed fueled the proselytizing “menace,” and attempted to ensure that children sent out of the state for adoption would not lose their Catholic birthright.

Not only did overseas adoptions not cease, but DFA officials acknowledged that there was no legal basis for them to deny passports for children to travel abroad, so long as the children and adopting parents met Archbishop McQuaid's 1950 regulations:

I think it essential that I should make it clear that we could see nothing in Section 39 to justify us using the passport machinery to exercise an administrative restraint on the travel abroad, for adoption or other purposes, of children in the exempted categories outlined in subsections (2) and (3) of that Section. Quite the contrary. In fact, we must, it seems to us, regard Section 39 of this bill, even at the present, as a precise statement of Government policy in the matter of what categories of children are to be permitted to go abroad or be restrained from so doing and we must be guided by that in the issue of passports. This being so we have, for instance, decided against the issue of future passports to illegitimate children under one year to travel abroad for adoption purposes. (p.142) Similarly, we must interpret the Government policy reflected in sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 39 as specifically inhibiting us from exercising an administrative restraint on the travel abroad of the exempted categories of children whose right so to travel the two sub-sections in question so clearly preserve.105

Even as DFA officials insisted that they could not impose limits on granting passports to children to be adopted overseas, they continued to insist that they were opposed in principle to such adoptions: “while refusing to give encouragement in a positive way, we did not mean to suggest that you should refuse passports where a child's guardians want to send him out of the country and there is no legal impediment to that.”106 DFA officials were in a difficult position: on the one hand, they had no choice but to adhere to both adoption legislation and constitutional law when determining whether to issue passports; on the other hand, precisely because their role was to issue the required travel documents, they were vulnerable to the charge that they were facilitating emigration. This dilemma plagued the DFA from the time overseas adoptions began in the 1940s, and the adoption bill did nothing to resolve it.

Conclusion

Most of the provisions for children made by the state derived from legislation that was not exclusively directed at children. Two pieces of legislation from the mid-twentieth century, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act and the Adoption Act, on the other hand, were explicitly intended to protect children in specific circumstances. The debates that occurred around these issues reveal both the ways that church and state conceived of their responsibilities to vulnerable children, and the limits of that responsibility when it interfered with other political expediencies. In the case of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, Eoin O’Duffy, then Commissioner of An Garda Siochána, presented evidence that should have caused grave concern throughout Irish society about the vulnerability of young girls to sexual assaults. And, in fact, this evidence and the evidence presented by others to the Carrigan Committee did cause grave concern within the inner circles of church and state.

However, it was not concern for the safety and well-being of vulnerable children but, rather, concern for the damage to Ireland's reputation, at home and abroad, that might have derived from publicizing such evidence of Ireland's moral “crisis.” An equally worrying issue for male lawmakers was the fear that amending the law in relation to the age of consent might hold men more accountable for their sexual behavior or, worse, leave them open to blackmail or false accusations from predatory teenage girls. Such (p.143) concerns had no evidentiary foundation, but they do reflect the priorities among the predominantly male political establishment, priorities that often put their own agendas and best interests above those of vulnerable and victimized children.

Similarly, the evolution of Ireland's adoption process up to 1952 reveals the yawning schism between the republican ideal to “cherish all the children of the nation equally,” and the way the state dealt with children who for whatever reason could not be cared for and protected by their own biological parents. The practice in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s of allowing illegitimate children to be removed from the state for the purposes of adoption, when considered in light of the pressures that finally compelled the state to act on the issue in 1951–52, suggest that lawmakers and the hierarchy were more concerned, at least into the 1960s, with the preservation of Ireland's self-image and reputation abroad, and with the preservation of the faith of illegitimate children, than with the needs and best interests of those children. The overseas adoption practice finally died out in the early 1970s, not because of negative public opinion or a sudden awareness that the practice was wrong or potentially harmful, but rather because there was, by the early 1970s, a growing acceptance (or at least tolerance) of unmarried motherhood; this, coupled with the introduction in 1972 of the Lone Parent's Allowance, effectively dried up the “supply” of healthy children being offered for adoption. In 1970 the governmentally-established Kennedy Commission published a scathing indictment of Ireland's industrial school system, and for the first time in Irish history the plight, needs, and best interests of illegitimate and vulnerable children were considered in their own right and not as part of broader social and political agendas.

Notes

(1) The Adoption Act was significant in this regard because lawmakers refused to act on the issue, in spite of the fact that social workers had been highlighting the need for adoption for more than fifteen years, because the Catholic hierarchy was opposed to it.

(2) Mark Finnane, “The Carrigan committee of 1930–31 and the ‘moral condition of the Saorstát’,” Irish Historical Studies, 32:128 (November 2001), pp. 519–36; James M. Smith, “The politics of sexual knowledge: The origins of Ireland's containment culture and the Carrigan report (1931),” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 13:2 (April 2004), pp. 208–33; Finola Kennedy, “The suppression of the Carrigan report: a historical perspective on child abuse,” Studies, 89:356 (Winter 2000), pp. 354–62.

(3) Law Reform Commission, Consultation paper on child sexual abuse (Dublin: Law Reform Commission, 1989); Iseult O’Doherty, Stolen childhoods: Testimonies of (p.144) the survivors of child sexual abuse (Dublin: Poolbeg Press, 1998); Barry Coldrey, A Christian apocalypse: The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church 1984–2004 (Melbourne: Tamanaraik, 2004); Chris Moore, Betrayal of trust: The Father Brendan Smyth affair and the Catholic Church (Dublin: Marino Books, 1995); The Ferns report (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 2005); Olive Travers and Sylvia Thompson, Behind the silhouettes: Exploring the myths of child sexual abuse (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1999); Hannah McGee, The SAVI report: Sexual abuse and violence in Ireland (Dublin: Liffey Press, 2002); Report on the inquiry into the operation of Madonna House (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1996). I use the word “alleged” here because although allegations have been made on a number of fronts, they have not been proven in a court of law.

(4) The issue of age of consent is not as straightforward as it first appears. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1885 made it an offense to have sexual relations with a girl under the age of 14 years; sexual relations with a girl between the ages of 15 and 16 became a misdemeanor. Irish lawmakers appear to have interpreted this legislation as setting the age of consent at thirteen. But when the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill was passed in 1935, it mirrored almost exactly the language of the 1885 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, except that it raised the upper age limit to 17 years.

(5) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, Eoin’O’Duffy memorandum on the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 30 October 1930.

(6) Judith Walkowitz, City of dreadful delight: Narratives of sexual danger in late Victorian London (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 81.

(7) For an excellent and thorough discussion of the Stead case see Walkowitz, City of dreadful delight.

(8) Dáil Éireann, vol. 11 (28 April 1925), col. 369.

(9) Dáil Éireann, vol. 18 (25 January 1927), col. 9.

(10) Dáil Éireann, vol. 21 (17 November 1927), col. 1506.

(11) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), cols 259–63.

(12) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), col. 265.

(13) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October NAI, 1930.

(14) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October NAI, 1930.

(15) Similar concerns were expressed during Dáil debates on the Affiliations Orders (Illegitimate Children) Act of 1929. See Dáil Éireann, vol. 32 (30 October 1930), cols 521–3.

(16) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), col. 262.

(17) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), col. 263.

(18) Until 1929 Carrigan was a senior prosecutor in the Central Criminal Court and likely had extensive experience prosecuting sexual assault cases.

(19) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Constitution of the Criminal Law NAI, Amendment Committee.

(20) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Criminal Law Amendment Committee (CLAC) Minutes, 20 June 1930.

(21) See, for example, NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 26 June 1930; 27 June 1930; 17 October 1930.

(22) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 26 June 1930.

(23) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 26 June 1930. See also 27 (p.145) June 1930; 18 July 1930; 17 October 1930; 23 October 1930; 20 November 1930.

(24) An exhaustive examination of Central Criminal, circuit, and district court records shows that prosecutions for sexual assaults were far more common than prosecutions for prostitution; indeed prostitution cases rarely came before the courts.

(25) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 18 July 1930. See also 1 July 1930; 17 October 1930; 20 November 1930.

(26) Many of the prosecutions for sexual assault that involved victims over the age of 15 or 16 years were, in fact, cases of consensual sex where the girl ended up pregnant. In some cases prosecutions were brought against three or more men because the girl did not know who the father of her child was. See, for example, NAI, Clare Circuit Court 1D 14 106, 13 June 1935 in which there were three defendants, all of whom could have been the father of the “victim’s” child; Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 40, 14 June 1930, involving five defendants; and Wicklow Circuit Court 1D 19 113, 9 February 1942 involving five defendants. It also was not unusual for women in infanticide cases to name two or more men as the possible fathers of their children.

(27) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 30 October 1930.

(28) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(29) This is based on an examination of all circuit court records available in the National Archives of Ireland. However, this does not represent all of the cases heard in the circuit courts during this period, because the NAI records are not complete for all counties.

(30) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 30 October 1930.

(31) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(32) This is based on an examination of all available circuit court records. The number of cases prosecuted probably was much higher than the 1,500 alluded to here, and therefore the figure of 10,000 is also likely an underestimate rather than an overestimate.

(33) This is based on an examination of all circuit court records available in the National Archives of Ireland.

(34) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(35) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 6 November 1930.

(36) O’Duffy's strategy of attempting to eliminate situations in which sexual offences or sexual immorality might take place was also evident in official suggestions for dealing with what was regarded as an alarming deterioration of moral standards in the 1930s. Most observers recommended restricting dance halls, giving gardaí greater powers to monitor “courting couples” in motor cars, and patrolling streets and alleys where couples might have an opportunity of an assignation.

(37) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(38) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(39) NAI, Department of Justice H24741/A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(40) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(p.146) (41) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 18 December 1930.

(42) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 18 December 1930.

(43) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 5 February 1931.

(44) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(45) Several ministers for justice were involved in the events surrounding the Carrigan Committee and passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act. James Fitzgerald-Kenney was Minister for Justice when the Carrigan Committee was established in 1929 and when its report was issued in 1931. James Geoghegan became Minister for Justice in March 1932 and served for just under a year during the time the government was contemplating what to do with the Carrigan report. And P.J. Ruttledge became Minister for Justice in February 1933 and saw the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act through to completion.

(46) NAI, Department of Taoiseach S5998, Report of the committee on the Criminal Law Amendment Acts (1880–1885) (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1931).

(47) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41B, letter from M.J. Browne to James Geoghegan, 13 November 1932.

(48) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(49) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(50) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice Memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(51) Evidence was taken from at least two district justices, who likely had more experience than any high court justice with cases of sexual assault given that many cases were heard in district courts. Moreover, the chair of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Committee was himself a court justice.

(52) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(53) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41D, Internal memorandum to the Minister for Justice, 23 February 1933.

(54) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41B, letter from M.J. Browne to James Geoghegan, 13 November 1932.

(55) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, handwritten note from Mr Fay to Dr Nolan, 4 October 1944.

(56) See Margaret Humphreys, Empty cradles (London: Corgi, 1997) and Gillian Wagner, Children of the empire (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1992).

(57) According to Mike Milotte a total of 2,103 children were sent overseas throughout the duration of the overseas adoption process. See Mike Milotte, Banished babies: The secret history of Ireland's baby export business (Dublin: New Island Books, 1997), p. 201. These statistics exclude children sent overseas prior to 1951. They also excluded children whose adoptive parents took them out of the country without securing an Irish passport for them, or who were registered, illegally, as the biological children of the adoptive parents. Milotte culled these figures from various DFA files, which he does not cite, so it is impossible to confirm the accuracy of these figures.

(58) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, handwritten note to Mr Commins, (p.147) 14 October 1952.

(59) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52. “American adoptions,” n.d.

(60) Under this act visas could be issued to European orphans who were entering the country for the purpose of legal adoption. NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, internal memorandum, 29 December 1950.

(61) In 1955 it came to the attention of the Department of Foreign Affairs that at least 8 children were illegally registered as the biological children of American servicemen stationed in England. All of the adopted children were born in the same nursing home, and it seems that the midwife who ran the home arranged the adoptions and facilitated the illegal practice. NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/545, Irish children alleged to be illegally registered as American citizens.

(62) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52, letter from Sister Elizabeth Farrelly, St Patrick's Guild to Father Mangan, Archbishop's Office, 10 May 1950. In expressing concerns for the safety of children whom this agency could not help, this nun was worried not that the children might become victims of infanticide but, rather, that the children would be handed over to Protestant agencies and thus become “victims” of proselytism.

(63) See, for example, NAI, Department of Health A124/12, extract from Miss Litster's report on the inspection of boarded-out children, 15 July 1937.

(64) Report of An Bord Uchtala: (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1953).

(65) The practice may have begun earlier than the early 1940s; however, no one in authority seems to have been aware of it until the late 1940s, and statistics were only compiled from 1950.

(66) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, internal memorandum, 29 December 1950.

(67) Although adoption was not legalized until 1952, charitable agencies such as St Patrick's Guild and the Catholic Protection and Rescue Society arranged fostering arrangements and informal adoptions and thus they referred to themselves as adoption societies.

(68) New York Times (18 March 1950), p. 30. It is possible that the St Patrick's Home referred to in the article was the local authority mother and baby home, St Patrick’s, at Pelletstown, Co. Dublin. It might also refer to St Patrick's Guild, a Dublin adoption society.

(69) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, internal memorandum, 12 July 1950; New York Times (29 July 1949), p. 23. The story published on this date told of businessman Rollie McDowell's decision to “surprise the wife” by bringing home two children from Ireland. The legal arrangements were conducted in Ireland without the knowledge or consent of Rollie's wife Thelma.

(70) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52, letter from Cecil Barrett, Archbishop's House, to Stuart Wilson, sales manager for Pan American Airlines, n.d.

(71) Irish Times (30 October 1951), p. 5.

(72) Department of Foreign Affairs Adoption Policy Files contain clippings of articles that appeared in England, Australia and Germany. See NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164.

(73) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, letter to Irish consuls abroad from Horan, 20 November 1951.

(74) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52, requirements of His Grace, the (p.148) Archbishop of Dublin, for American adopters, n.d.

(75) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, notes of meeting between Monsignor O’Grady, Catholic Charities, and Mr Morrissey, Miss Kenny, and Mr G. Woods, Department of Foreign Affairs, 16 January 1956.

(76) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Department of Foreign Affairs to M.M. Halley, 11 July 1953.

(77) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/II, letter from Department of Justice to Department of Foreign Affairs, 2 November 1950.

(78) Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems, Report 1948–1954 (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1954), p. 17.

(79) There are references throughout Department of Foreign Affairs files to the fact that Catholic agencies in America revealed the unsuitability of some homes. No one in the DFA appears to have taken the initiative to find out what the problems were, how many children were involved, how those children fared after they were adopted by the “unsuitable” families, or what happened to them when the American courts declined to make adoption orders.

(80) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1119.

(81) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, extract from Dáil Éireann report, 21 November 1951.

(82) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs, 345/96/I, letter from Fay, DFA to Irish Embassy in Washington, DC, 3 May 1952.

(83) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1103.

(84) W.A. Newman, “Legal adoption,” The Bell, 16:4 (January 1951), p. 62.

(85) NAI, JCWSSW 98/14/5/2, Joint Committee of Women's Societies and Social Workers (JCWSSW) Minutes, 26 October 1944. The JCWSSW discussed legal adoption with growing frequency at their monthly meetings from 1944 until adoption legislation was finally passed in 1952.

(86) NAI, Department of Justice 93/39A, letter from Roche to Archbishop McQuaid, 12 January 1944. Presumably the “undesirable result” was the possibility that non-Catholic couples would adopt Catholic children.

(87) NAI, Department of Justice 93.39B, letter from W.J. Conway, St Patrick’s, Maynooth to Mr Roche, Department of Justice, 22 November 1946.

(88) An internal Department of Justice memo dated 4 April 1933 indicated that although a case could be made for the introduction of adoption legislation, advisors to the Minister for Justice suggested that it would not be politically expedient to act on the issue. See NAI, Department of Justice 93/39A.

(89) Catholic Standard (16 February 1951), p. 1.

(90) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, translation of 8 Uhr Blatt article.

(91) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, translation of 8 Uhr Blatt article.

(92) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Horan to Irish Legation Bonn, 14 January 1952.

(93) The Episcopal Committee, established by the hierarchy in 1951, was comprised of the bishops of Cashel, Derry, and Galway, along with Revd Cornelius Lucey (who in August 1952 became Bishop of Cork). The committee's remit was to advise the hierarchy on whatever matters might be referred to them; in late 1951 the Episcopal Committee was asked to consider the issue of adoption.

(94) John Charles McQuaid: What the papers say, presented by John Bowman, Radio Telefis Éireann, RTÉ 1 Dublin. 1998. The term Taoiseach refers to the head of the Irish government, the equivalent of the British Prime Minister.

(p.149) (95) Hansard House of Commons Debates, 26 February 1926, cols 940–1.

(96) Hansard House of Commons Debates, 18 June 1926, col. 2661.

(97) Child adoption committee first report, British Parliamentary Papers vol. 9 (13 March 1925), p. 6.

(98) Hansard House of Commons Debates, 18 June 1926, p. 2664.

(99) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 354/164, Episcopal Committee statement on legal adoption, January 1952.

(100) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1107.

(101) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1106.

(102) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/II, memorandum from Commins to Fay, July 1954.

(103) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/II, memorandum from Commins to Fay, July 1954. As it happened the child in question was born in Northern Ireland and not an Irish citizen. The state therefore had no right to issue a passport for the child to travel outside of the country for adoption even with the parents’ consent.

(104) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1125.

(105) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Commins to Berry, Department of Justice, 4 November 1952.

(106) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Berry to Commins, 6 November 1952.

Notes:

(1) The Adoption Act was significant in this regard because lawmakers refused to act on the issue, in spite of the fact that social workers had been highlighting the need for adoption for more than fifteen years, because the Catholic hierarchy was opposed to it.

(2) Mark Finnane, “The Carrigan committee of 1930–31 and the ‘moral condition of the Saorstát’,” Irish Historical Studies, 32:128 (November 2001), pp. 519–36; James M. Smith, “The politics of sexual knowledge: The origins of Ireland's containment culture and the Carrigan report (1931),” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 13:2 (April 2004), pp. 208–33; Finola Kennedy, “The suppression of the Carrigan report: a historical perspective on child abuse,” Studies, 89:356 (Winter 2000), pp. 354–62.

(3) Law Reform Commission, Consultation paper on child sexual abuse (Dublin: Law Reform Commission, 1989); Iseult O’Doherty, Stolen childhoods: Testimonies of (p.144) the survivors of child sexual abuse (Dublin: Poolbeg Press, 1998); Barry Coldrey, A Christian apocalypse: The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church 1984–2004 (Melbourne: Tamanaraik, 2004); Chris Moore, Betrayal of trust: The Father Brendan Smyth affair and the Catholic Church (Dublin: Marino Books, 1995); The Ferns report (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 2005); Olive Travers and Sylvia Thompson, Behind the silhouettes: Exploring the myths of child sexual abuse (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1999); Hannah McGee, The SAVI report: Sexual abuse and violence in Ireland (Dublin: Liffey Press, 2002); Report on the inquiry into the operation of Madonna House (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1996). I use the word “alleged” here because although allegations have been made on a number of fronts, they have not been proven in a court of law.

(4) The issue of age of consent is not as straightforward as it first appears. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1885 made it an offense to have sexual relations with a girl under the age of 14 years; sexual relations with a girl between the ages of 15 and 16 became a misdemeanor. Irish lawmakers appear to have interpreted this legislation as setting the age of consent at thirteen. But when the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill was passed in 1935, it mirrored almost exactly the language of the 1885 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, except that it raised the upper age limit to 17 years.

(5) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, Eoin’O’Duffy memorandum on the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 30 October 1930.

(6) Judith Walkowitz, City of dreadful delight: Narratives of sexual danger in late Victorian London (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 81.

(7) For an excellent and thorough discussion of the Stead case see Walkowitz, City of dreadful delight.

(8) Dáil Éireann, vol. 11 (28 April 1925), col. 369.

(9) Dáil Éireann, vol. 18 (25 January 1927), col. 9.

(10) Dáil Éireann, vol. 21 (17 November 1927), col. 1506.

(11) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), cols 259–63.

(12) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), col. 265.

(13) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October NAI, 1930.

(14) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October NAI, 1930.

(15) Similar concerns were expressed during Dáil debates on the Affiliations Orders (Illegitimate Children) Act of 1929. See Dáil Éireann, vol. 32 (30 October 1930), cols 521–3.

(16) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), col. 262.

(17) Dáil Éireann, vol. 34 (27 March 1930), col. 263.

(18) Until 1929 Carrigan was a senior prosecutor in the Central Criminal Court and likely had extensive experience prosecuting sexual assault cases.

(19) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Constitution of the Criminal Law NAI, Amendment Committee.

(20) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Criminal Law Amendment Committee (CLAC) Minutes, 20 June 1930.

(21) See, for example, NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 26 June 1930; 27 June 1930; 17 October 1930.

(22) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 26 June 1930.

(23) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 26 June 1930. See also 27 (p.145) June 1930; 18 July 1930; 17 October 1930; 23 October 1930; 20 November 1930.

(24) An exhaustive examination of Central Criminal, circuit, and district court records shows that prosecutions for sexual assaults were far more common than prosecutions for prostitution; indeed prostitution cases rarely came before the courts.

(25) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 18 July 1930. See also 1 July 1930; 17 October 1930; 20 November 1930.

(26) Many of the prosecutions for sexual assault that involved victims over the age of 15 or 16 years were, in fact, cases of consensual sex where the girl ended up pregnant. In some cases prosecutions were brought against three or more men because the girl did not know who the father of her child was. See, for example, NAI, Clare Circuit Court 1D 14 106, 13 June 1935 in which there were three defendants, all of whom could have been the father of the “victim’s” child; Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 40, 14 June 1930, involving five defendants; and Wicklow Circuit Court 1D 19 113, 9 February 1942 involving five defendants. It also was not unusual for women in infanticide cases to name two or more men as the possible fathers of their children.

(27) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 30 October 1930.

(28) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(29) This is based on an examination of all circuit court records available in the National Archives of Ireland. However, this does not represent all of the cases heard in the circuit courts during this period, because the NAI records are not complete for all counties.

(30) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 30 October 1930.

(31) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, O’Duffy Memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(32) This is based on an examination of all available circuit court records. The number of cases prosecuted probably was much higher than the 1,500 alluded to here, and therefore the figure of 10,000 is also likely an underestimate rather than an overestimate.

(33) This is based on an examination of all circuit court records available in the National Archives of Ireland.

(34) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(35) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 6 November 1930.

(36) O’Duffy's strategy of attempting to eliminate situations in which sexual offences or sexual immorality might take place was also evident in official suggestions for dealing with what was regarded as an alarming deterioration of moral standards in the 1930s. Most observers recommended restricting dance halls, giving gardaí greater powers to monitor “courting couples” in motor cars, and patrolling streets and alleys where couples might have an opportunity of an assignation.

(37) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(38) NAI, Department of Justice H247/41A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(39) NAI, Department of Justice H24741/A, O’Duffy memorandum, 30 October 1930.

(40) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(p.146) (41) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 18 December 1930.

(42) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 18 December 1930.

(43) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, CLAC Minutes, 5 February 1931.

(44) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(45) Several ministers for justice were involved in the events surrounding the Carrigan Committee and passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act. James Fitzgerald-Kenney was Minister for Justice when the Carrigan Committee was established in 1929 and when its report was issued in 1931. James Geoghegan became Minister for Justice in March 1932 and served for just under a year during the time the government was contemplating what to do with the Carrigan report. And P.J. Ruttledge became Minister for Justice in February 1933 and saw the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act through to completion.

(46) NAI, Department of Taoiseach S5998, Report of the committee on the Criminal Law Amendment Acts (1880–1885) (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1931).

(47) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41B, letter from M.J. Browne to James Geoghegan, 13 November 1932.

(48) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(49) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(50) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice Memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(51) Evidence was taken from at least two district justices, who likely had more experience than any high court justice with cases of sexual assault given that many cases were heard in district courts. Moreover, the chair of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Committee was himself a court justice.

(52) NAI, Department of Justice 90/4/3, Department of Justice memorandum, 27 October 1932.

(53) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41D, Internal memorandum to the Minister for Justice, 23 February 1933.

(54) NAI, Department of Justice 247/41B, letter from M.J. Browne to James Geoghegan, 13 November 1932.

(55) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, handwritten note from Mr Fay to Dr Nolan, 4 October 1944.

(56) See Margaret Humphreys, Empty cradles (London: Corgi, 1997) and Gillian Wagner, Children of the empire (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1992).

(57) According to Mike Milotte a total of 2,103 children were sent overseas throughout the duration of the overseas adoption process. See Mike Milotte, Banished babies: The secret history of Ireland's baby export business (Dublin: New Island Books, 1997), p. 201. These statistics exclude children sent overseas prior to 1951. They also excluded children whose adoptive parents took them out of the country without securing an Irish passport for them, or who were registered, illegally, as the biological children of the adoptive parents. Milotte culled these figures from various DFA files, which he does not cite, so it is impossible to confirm the accuracy of these figures.

(58) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, handwritten note to Mr Commins, (p.147) 14 October 1952.

(59) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52. “American adoptions,” n.d.

(60) Under this act visas could be issued to European orphans who were entering the country for the purpose of legal adoption. NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, internal memorandum, 29 December 1950.

(61) In 1955 it came to the attention of the Department of Foreign Affairs that at least 8 children were illegally registered as the biological children of American servicemen stationed in England. All of the adopted children were born in the same nursing home, and it seems that the midwife who ran the home arranged the adoptions and facilitated the illegal practice. NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/545, Irish children alleged to be illegally registered as American citizens.

(62) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52, letter from Sister Elizabeth Farrelly, St Patrick's Guild to Father Mangan, Archbishop's Office, 10 May 1950. In expressing concerns for the safety of children whom this agency could not help, this nun was worried not that the children might become victims of infanticide but, rather, that the children would be handed over to Protestant agencies and thus become “victims” of proselytism.

(63) See, for example, NAI, Department of Health A124/12, extract from Miss Litster's report on the inspection of boarded-out children, 15 July 1937.

(64) Report of An Bord Uchtala: (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1953).

(65) The practice may have begun earlier than the early 1940s; however, no one in authority seems to have been aware of it until the late 1940s, and statistics were only compiled from 1950.

(66) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, internal memorandum, 29 December 1950.

(67) Although adoption was not legalized until 1952, charitable agencies such as St Patrick's Guild and the Catholic Protection and Rescue Society arranged fostering arrangements and informal adoptions and thus they referred to themselves as adoption societies.

(68) New York Times (18 March 1950), p. 30. It is possible that the St Patrick's Home referred to in the article was the local authority mother and baby home, St Patrick’s, at Pelletstown, Co. Dublin. It might also refer to St Patrick's Guild, a Dublin adoption society.

(69) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, internal memorandum, 12 July 1950; New York Times (29 July 1949), p. 23. The story published on this date told of businessman Rollie McDowell's decision to “surprise the wife” by bringing home two children from Ireland. The legal arrangements were conducted in Ireland without the knowledge or consent of Rollie's wife Thelma.

(70) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52, letter from Cecil Barrett, Archbishop's House, to Stuart Wilson, sales manager for Pan American Airlines, n.d.

(71) Irish Times (30 October 1951), p. 5.

(72) Department of Foreign Affairs Adoption Policy Files contain clippings of articles that appeared in England, Australia and Germany. See NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164.

(73) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, letter to Irish consuls abroad from Horan, 20 November 1951.

(74) DDA, American Adoption Policy Files 1950–52, requirements of His Grace, the (p.148) Archbishop of Dublin, for American adopters, n.d.

(75) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, notes of meeting between Monsignor O’Grady, Catholic Charities, and Mr Morrissey, Miss Kenny, and Mr G. Woods, Department of Foreign Affairs, 16 January 1956.

(76) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Department of Foreign Affairs to M.M. Halley, 11 July 1953.

(77) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/II, letter from Department of Justice to Department of Foreign Affairs, 2 November 1950.

(78) Commission on Emigration and Other Population Problems, Report 1948–1954 (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 1954), p. 17.

(79) There are references throughout Department of Foreign Affairs files to the fact that Catholic agencies in America revealed the unsuitability of some homes. No one in the DFA appears to have taken the initiative to find out what the problems were, how many children were involved, how those children fared after they were adopted by the “unsuitable” families, or what happened to them when the American courts declined to make adoption orders.

(80) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1119.

(81) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/I, extract from Dáil Éireann report, 21 November 1951.

(82) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs, 345/96/I, letter from Fay, DFA to Irish Embassy in Washington, DC, 3 May 1952.

(83) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1103.

(84) W.A. Newman, “Legal adoption,” The Bell, 16:4 (January 1951), p. 62.

(85) NAI, JCWSSW 98/14/5/2, Joint Committee of Women's Societies and Social Workers (JCWSSW) Minutes, 26 October 1944. The JCWSSW discussed legal adoption with growing frequency at their monthly meetings from 1944 until adoption legislation was finally passed in 1952.

(86) NAI, Department of Justice 93/39A, letter from Roche to Archbishop McQuaid, 12 January 1944. Presumably the “undesirable result” was the possibility that non-Catholic couples would adopt Catholic children.

(87) NAI, Department of Justice 93.39B, letter from W.J. Conway, St Patrick’s, Maynooth to Mr Roche, Department of Justice, 22 November 1946.

(88) An internal Department of Justice memo dated 4 April 1933 indicated that although a case could be made for the introduction of adoption legislation, advisors to the Minister for Justice suggested that it would not be politically expedient to act on the issue. See NAI, Department of Justice 93/39A.

(89) Catholic Standard (16 February 1951), p. 1.

(90) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, translation of 8 Uhr Blatt article.

(91) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, translation of 8 Uhr Blatt article.

(92) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Horan to Irish Legation Bonn, 14 January 1952.

(93) The Episcopal Committee, established by the hierarchy in 1951, was comprised of the bishops of Cashel, Derry, and Galway, along with Revd Cornelius Lucey (who in August 1952 became Bishop of Cork). The committee's remit was to advise the hierarchy on whatever matters might be referred to them; in late 1951 the Episcopal Committee was asked to consider the issue of adoption.

(94) John Charles McQuaid: What the papers say, presented by John Bowman, Radio Telefis Éireann, RTÉ 1 Dublin. 1998. The term Taoiseach refers to the head of the Irish government, the equivalent of the British Prime Minister.

(p.149) (95) Hansard House of Commons Debates, 26 February 1926, cols 940–1.

(96) Hansard House of Commons Debates, 18 June 1926, col. 2661.

(97) Child adoption committee first report, British Parliamentary Papers vol. 9 (13 March 1925), p. 6.

(98) Hansard House of Commons Debates, 18 June 1926, p. 2664.

(99) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 354/164, Episcopal Committee statement on legal adoption, January 1952.

(100) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1107.

(101) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1106.

(102) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/II, memorandum from Commins to Fay, July 1954.

(103) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/96/II, memorandum from Commins to Fay, July 1954. As it happened the child in question was born in Northern Ireland and not an Irish citizen. The state therefore had no right to issue a passport for the child to travel outside of the country for adoption even with the parents’ consent.

(104) Dáil Debates, vol. 132 (11 June 1952), col. 1125.

(105) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Commins to Berry, Department of Justice, 4 November 1952.

(106) NAI, Department of Foreign Affairs 345/164, letter from Berry to Commins, 6 November 1952.