As a result of High Court rulings when at least six illegal adoption cases against St Patrick’s Guild Adoption Society go to trial it will be solely for assessment of damages.
These orders were made after Anthony Weldon, the liquidator of St Patrick’s Guild failed to appoint lawyers to defend the claims. This is despite having engaged lawyers to advise on the winding up of St Patrick’s Guild.
One such case was a lawsuit relating to a situation where Ms Helen Maguire briefly left her daughter at the Guild’s infant hospital in Temple Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin in 1966 and was given the wrong child when she returned. It was over a decade later, following a DNA test, that Ms Maguie realised the child she had raised was not her biological daughter. Ms Maguire’s case was among those the High Court has previously given judgment in default of appearance against St Patrick’s Guild.
Despite these rulings, there are doubts as to what level of damages there is to be obtained from the Guild. A meeting of creditors was informed last year that there was just 251,000 in assets. The High Court rulings do not however apply to the State, the Adoption Authority of Ireland, and a representative of the Sisters of Charity who are the other defendants in the cases.
As there is no defense currently being mounted by the adoption agency, the State may face pressure to ensure the claimants are compensated. There is a provision for the State to step in where a “strategic claim” is filed against St Patrick’s Guild. This provision is contained in the deed transferring adoption records from St Patricks Guild to Tusla in 2016.