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The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016

Statement by Dr Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Monday 11th June 2018

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone has announced today (Monday 11th June 2018) her next steps in progressing the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016.

The Bill will create for the first time a statutory right for adopted persons and persons who have been the subject of an incorrect birth registration to birth certificate information and certain other information. 

The Bill has passed second stage in Seanad Éireann and is awaiting Committee Stage. However, the Bill raises complex questions of constitutional law as it has implications for the rights to identity and privacy which sometimes may be in conflict with one another.  In resolving these complexities there are a number of substantive issues still to be addressed prior to Committee Stage, inclusive of:

•         Compelling reasons (as to why birth mother information should not be released); and

•         Introduction of an Undertaking/Statutory duty (for all persons involved, to commit to not contacting other parties).

Enactment and commencement of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 is a priority for the Minister and the intention is that it will be enacted by the end of 2018. In the meantime, substantial preparatory work in relation to rationalisation of records, and preparation for the implementation, is already underway between the DCYA, Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

Previous efforts to introduce legislation in this area go back as far as 2001, and failed.  In the meantime, the Minister is acutely aware that people are waiting to receive information that is key to their identity.
Speaking today about the Current Bill, Minister Zappone said

“During the Second Stage of the Bill in the Seanad on 17 May 2017, many Senators spoke in favour of unfettered access to birth certificates for adopted persons. I personally support this stance.  Approval from the Attorney General, however, is necessary to ensure that the Bill is constitutionally sound.

I would like to assure everyone that the Bill remains a priority for me.

The bill seeks to respect the rights to identity and privacy, which sometimes conflict with one another.  Given the constitutional context, striking the balance between these rights is proving challenging.

I will continue to engage with the advocacy groups, my colleagues in the Dáil and Seanad and the Attorney General’s Office.  My objective is to ensure that we can pursue the common good of putting a workable and constitutionally sound system of adoption information and tracing in place through enacting the Bill by the end of 2018.  This can only be achieved with the support of colleagues."

The Minister is holding a series of meetings this week to brief advocacy groups and members of the Oireachtas on the complex legal issues that arise from the Bill with a view to progressing it as soon as possible. She will also brief them on the issue of incorrect birth registrations.