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19 Jan 2022

Minister Roderic O’Gorman publishes 'landmark' Birth Information and Tracing Bill

Minister Roderic O’Gorman publishes 'landmark' Birth Information and Tracing Bill

File Pic: Dáil Éireann

Minister for the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman has announced that his dept has published the long-anticipated Birth Information and Tracing Bill.

The Green Party TD's dept said in a statement: "This landmark legislation will provide a full and clear right of access to birth certificates, birth and early life information for all persons who were adopted, boarded out, the subject of an illegal birth registration or who otherwise have questions in relation to their origins."

"Crucially, the Bill’s requirement for an information session where a parent has expressed a no-contact preference now no longer needs to be a physical meeting; the revised bill makes provision for this to take place by means of a short phone call or video call if desired," it added.

Speaking on the published Bill, Minister O’Gorman said: "This legislation has been an absolute priority for me: for decades in this country, adopted people have been failed in being denied clear access to their identity information."

"With this bill, we are restoring to adopted people the information that so many of us take for granted as part of our own, personal stories."

He added that the new Bill will "end Ireland’s outlier status" in terms of having legislation that provides access to information about one’s origins.

Minister O' Gorman continued: "Over the past year, I have spoken to hundreds of persons affected by adoption, illegal birth registration, the system of boarding out or the legacy of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions. 

"I know how important this legislation is to so many of them and that is why I am absolutely committed to advancing it as quickly as possible this year.

"While the legislation aims to help those with questions on their origins, it also provides important services relating to contact and sharing of information. 

"I hope that these other services will be valuable, not only to adopted persons, but also to mothers seeking contact with, or information on, their adopted child, as well as other family members," he concluded.

The Dublin-West representative intends to begin second stage of this priority legislation in the Houses of the Oireachtas within the next two weeks.

Details:

In response to issues raised during Pre-Legislative Scrutiny, Minister Roderic O' Gorman has made the following key changes:

  • The requirement for the information session to be held by a social worker has been removed.
  • The information session will include explicit recognition of the identity rights of the applicant and their right to access their birth certificate and birth information.
  • Next-of-kin will be able to avail of the legislation to access information about a family member in specific circumstances.
  • The definition of early life information has been expanded to provide for the release of baptismal certificates and entries on the baptismal register.
  • The legislation will use term ‘mother’ instead of ‘birth mother’.

Further elaboration on the new Bill,  the Dept has said that "the legislation also establishes a comprehensive tracing service for persons who want to make contact with family or who wish to seek or share information."

"It also establishes a new statutory Contact Preference Register, which offers a means for people to register their preference for contact with family and also a mechanism to lodge communications and contemporary medical information which can be shared with family members.

"The new legislation addresses the issues facing people who are the subject of an illegal birth registration, and will provide a legal mechanism for provision of an accurate birth registration to affected individuals, while remaining mindful of their current identity."

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