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Press Release

Minister Zappone announces decision in relation to progressing the Adoption (Information & Tracing) Bill, 2016

Published: 11 December 2019
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, today announced her decision in relation to progressing the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill, 2016. This decision has been made following the Minister’s recent period of briefings and consultations with Oireachtas members, the Collaborative Forum and stakeholder groups regarding four possible options on legislative ways forward.

Despite everyone involved making significant efforts to reach consensus on the issue of release of birth information, it has not proved possible to reach agreement, at this time. However, the Minister considers it prudent and necessary for other important issues to be progressed.

Accordingly, she intends to progress with an option which has received support from the majority of those recently consulted.

This option provides for the following matters to be dealt with:

  • safeguarding of records
  • the National Adoption Contact Preference Register to be put on a statutory footing
  • tracing for the purposes of reunion/contact

The Minister said:

“After a period of intensive briefings and consultations I am pleased to be in a position to progress these important elements that will impact positively on the services provided to adoptees, their birth families and their wider families who are seeking contact with each other. The revisions to the Bill that I am now proposing to pursue will mean that important personal adoption and related records will be transferred to the Adoption Authority of Ireland to be appropriately safeguarded. Offences will be created for anyone found to have destroyed, concealed, altered or falsified a record. To compliment this, the current National Adoption Contact Preference Register will be put on a robust statutory footing. This register provides an invaluable service to those seeking contact and this will ensure its effectiveness and most importantly, its compliance with data protection requirements. For those whose relatives do not register a preference for contact, an application can be made to Tusla to trace that person for the purposes of contact/reunion.
“I would like to sincerely thank those who have given me their views and opinions on this matter and who have supported me in my efforts to seek consensus to progress these matters. I am personally deeply disappointed that it has not proved possible to reach a consensus on the complex and emotive issue of the release of birth information and that this issue must be set aside for now. I hope this can be progressed in the future, but my priority, for now, is to move forward with those issues on which there is general consensus.”

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

Release of information

Over the past number of years, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has consulted on numerous occasions with the Office of the Attorney General and developed various proposals regarding provisions for the release of information.

The Minister’s legal advice is that there must be some protection of birth parents' constitutional right to privacy reflected in the legislation. There are two rights at play, the right to identity and the right to privacy, and legislation must seek to harmonise these rights. However, this advice is contrary to the desire of advocates for unrestricted access to identity information and to birth certificates.

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