Claims News

Catholic Church Braced for Compensation Claims in Relation to Illegal Adoption Cases

Posted on: January 31st, 2020

At the High Court in Belfast a compensation case has been submitted in relation to illegal Catholic Church adoptions, arranged by the Catholic Church of children born in the Republic of Ireland, the first of many such cases that are expected to be submitted.

The plaintiff is Patrick FitzSymons, a Belfast-born actor known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Line of Duty. Mr FitzSymons was born to an unmarried couple in Co Clare in the 1960s. His parents wish to avoid the stigma of having a child out of wedlock and allowed the Catholic church agency St Patrick’s Guild to arrange his adoption to a married couple in Co Antrim. 

148 people are now involved in the cases about the adoptions which involved forging birth certificates and other baptismal records. The legal firm handling mr FitzSymon’s case, Coleman Legal Partners, are responsible for 25 similar cases and are expecting that number to grow even more. Since the original number has revealed as 126 by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar 20 months in May 2018 it was grown substantially. At the time the Taoiseach told the Dáil that the disclosures of the adoptions amounted to “another chapter from the very dark history of our country” which had “robbed children – our fellow citizens – of their identity”.

Mr FitzSymons solicitor, Norman Spicer of Coleman Legal Partners said that the firm is handling many similar cases but there is no plans to apply for a “class action” order because of the complexity of the individual cases. He said: “There is no provision for the North American-style of ‘class action’ under Irish law. However, a court has discretion to grant an order which may mirror to some extent the other system for a specific case or set of cases. We do not envisage making such an application. These are complex cases involving many different defendants, as a result it is difficult to say how long these cases will take as it depends on all of the parties involved and how quickly responses, replies and motions, and so on, can be turned around. Three years (the estimated time the case will take to process) would not be an unreasonable time frame but this is dependent upon many factors and is really only a ‘ballpark’ estimate.”

Mr Fitzsymons was born to parents in Co Clare. It was arranged, by St Patrick Guild. for him to be adopted by John FitzSymons, a pharmaceutical chemist from Warrenpoint in Co Down and Patricia Bradley, a qualified social worker native to Co Tyrone. In an earlier interview Mr FitzSymons detailed his relationship with his adoptive parents, who are now both deceased. He said that they “had loved me and provided for me as best they could’ and that his “natural parents, my birth mother in particular, had endured the institutional shaming and disapproval of Ireland at that time to do what she thought to be the right thing”.

In summer 2018, FitzSymons was informed by Tusla that he was just one of 126 people whose births were mistakenly registered between 1946 and 1969 by the Dublin-based St Patrick’s Guild. In a an earlier interview he described the severe emotional suffering that both sets of parents experienced due to the entire case. He remarked: “My natural parents, my birth mother in particular, had endured the institutional shaming and disapproval of Ireland at that time to do what she thought to be the right thing.”

 

 

 

 



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