'These weren't accidents' Evanne Ní Chuilinn and the injustice paid to Ireland's adopted children
“These weren’t accidents. These were deliberate attempts to keep people who were adopted down."
Evanne Ní Chuilinn wants answers - and she's tired of waiting to get them.
An adoptee from one of the country's most prominent Mother and Baby Homes, she was 19-years-old when she made contact with her birth mother, Mary.
Evanne was adopted into a loving family and later went on to have a positive relationship with her birth mother, but the sports journalist acknowledges that she is one of the lucky ones.
Her search for her own history - as well as the stories of many other adoptees like her - will air tonight in TG4's new documentary, Utchú.
Evanne tells Her that she didn't opt to tell her own story for herself, but to help others who haven't been as fortunate.
"My story is exceptional and has been very positive," she says. "I wanted to tell the stories of the people who have not been as fortunate in their searches."
“I didn’t really expect some of the stories to be as heartbreaking, but they’ve really opened my eyes to the injustice of it all.
"We’ve got people who were lied to years ago, who were told that their birth mother just didn’t want to see them and then afterwards, that didn’t turn out to be the case."
One of the people featured in tonight's film is Joe Mangan, a Donegal man who was adopted when he was just seven-years-old.
Six months after moving into his new family home, Joe's adoptive mother sadly passed away. Her death would lead him on a 30 year journey attempting to find out who his birth mother was - information that was purposefully denied to him again and again.
"He was delighted to be adopted at the age of seven, but then six months later he had no mother," says Evanne.
“Joe spent 30 years trying to find [his birth mother]. He was one of the people who were told that his files were destroyed in a fire, and when he eventually got access to those files, he found out that his birth mother had died just four years before.
"He’s angry, his heart still breaks when he thinks of it. He’s a content man, he’s so positive but he feels like something is missing, something it’s hard to put his finger on. He’ll never get to have that."
Evanne says that Joe's heartache - as well as the others detailed in the documentary - tell the story of a country that wanted to keep adopted peoples' identities hidden from them.
A country that still hasn't remedied the wrong that was done.
"That was denied to [Joe], deliberately, it wasn’t a clerical error," she says. "He has the letter telling him that his files were in a fire and when he eventually gained access and found out his mother’s name, it was too late.
“These weren’t accidents. These were deliberate attempts to keep people who were adopted down, to keep them in the dark. And only now we have the opportunity to rewrite the legislation.
"I feel like adopted people have been second class citizens in this country for a long time."
Evanne says that despite the honesty she experienced from Joe and the others like him, she believes that the majority of people are still vastly unaware of Ireland's dark history when it comes to adopted children.
“I don’t know if people have realised yet," she says.
"People will watch this documentary and realise that they don’t know the history, they don’t know what it feels like to not belong in your own life.
"We need to start to engage with this, question the church and state and their roles, and try to figure out what happened in the past. Try to make amends.
"There’s a whole new generation of adoptees who are struggling (...) It’s nobody’s fault but the people in power.”
Utchú airs on TG4 tonight, Wednesday November 13, at 9.30pm.