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'I'm perplexed to the point of bafflement': Fionn Davenport on Mother and Baby Homes Bill

Fionn Davenport said he was left "perplexed to the point of bafflement" over the handling of the ...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

20.59 27 Oct 2020


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'I'm perplexed to the point of...

'I'm perplexed to the point of bafflement': Fionn Davenport on Mother and Baby Homes Bill

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

20.59 27 Oct 2020


Share this article


Fionn Davenport said he was left "perplexed to the point of bafflement" over the handling of the Mother and Baby Homes Bill.

The travel writer and author, who was born in a Mother and Baby Home, was in his 30s when he discovered the truth about his birth.

His young biological mother Jane was told she couldn’t keep her baby and Fionn was adopted.

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Fionn says that he feels "gratitude" for the life and family he has had but also an "extraordinary sense of anger at the terrible injustice done to Jane".

He told The Hard Shoulder: "I'm born in 1968, and I was a child in the early to mid-70s when I was told about adoption.

"The pervading culture at the time was to ask nothing.

"Both of my parents were discouraged from knowing too much, it was almost as if Jane had given me up and now to create a bond between me and my adopted parents, it was best that we forget everything about my birth mother and just begin at the age I was adopted.

"I was very very young, I was three months old or so.

"It's almost a conspiracy of silence without naming it thus

"With the absence of information, the best my parents could do was give us a lovely, stable family home, give us all the opportunities they could.

"But what was missing, and it wasn't until I was a teenager, was those important questions that every human being asks of themselves and that is where did I come from, who did I come from."

Fionn said he went to the Catholic Protection and Rescue Society of Ireland seeking his records but was told he was not permitted to access them.

He said: "It was only when I started to get stonewalled that that was the beginning of my frustration and it took me nearly 20 years to get answers to those questions.

"I didn't get any answers from an official source, I got them from my birth mother and I was in my mid-30s when she began the process of tracing me."

The pair met and Fionn described the reunion as "warm but distant".

He said there was "no bitterness, no recrimination" but "polite exchanges of information".

Fionn added: "It was only after that that I started to truly understand the terrible rip that adoption actually can provoke.

'The state is complicit'

He said he has two main issues with the Bill on the Mother and Baby Homes which would seal confidential testimonies for 30 years.

Fionn stated: "I am left perplexed to the point of bafflement that [the Government] rejected any suggested amendment put to them that would in fact pass a piece of legislation that would protect the anonymity of those who gave testimony to the Commission under the cover of anonymity while at the same time preserving the right of those many thousands of people who did give evidence to the Commission who want that story to be told in the open.

"My second problem with this is, despite reassurances by the Government that they're handing over a database of 60,000 names to Tusla so as they won't get destroyed, it creates a barrier between us the people who are directly affected by the Mother and Baby Home experience.

"I have to go to a social worker and ask permission for my records. Maybe they'll give them to me or maybe they won't.

"It also raises a bigger issue, the state is central to the work of the Commission in that it's not just the religious sector who were running these Mother and Baby Homes, the state is complicit."

'I'm perplexed to the point of bafflement': Fionn Davenport on Mother and Baby Homes Bill

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Commission Of Investigation Into Mother And Baby Homes Fionn Davenport Mother And Baby Homes Mother And Baby Homes Bill

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