Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs

General Scheme of the Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2021: Discussion

Photo of Lynn RuaneLynn Ruane (Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I thank all the witnesses for their contributions. Deputy Cairns covered some of my questions. After working on this in the previous term it is good to see where the conversation has gotten. Senator Higgins and I, and a few others, have been part of this conversation since 2016 and there was a time when we did not think we would even get to this point. We were blankly being told "No", that the balance could not be found and so on. It is a good sign that we have moved the conversation along to this point.

I take Deputy Cairns's point about the information meeting. I had to pull myself back originally. I am not an adopted person so I cannot speak from that point of view but as someone working on this issue, the meeting felt like something that would be better than where we are. Sometimes we need to go back and ask what that compulsory meeting means for people and whether they really need to have it. The general feedback I get from adopted people is that they do not want to be framed constantly as a burden, as something to be frightened of or something that can show up on people's doorsteps. It is about battling some of those myths. If we could find a way of doing that which is more supportive than this compulsory obligation on adopted persons to attend a meeting, that would be preferable.

The AAI and Tusla will play an important role in this. Has there been much discussion around the mechanisms or relationships needed to ensure that other stakeholders, aside from the main agencies managing this, will not attempt to conceal or destroy any records that are not currently held within the agencies during the gathering process? Given the amount of information that is going to come in about adopted people - whether they were boarded out, health information and so on - how will the AAI and Tusla ensure they get full access to all of it?

My second question relates to illegal birth registrations and adoptions outside of Ireland, and those people being afforded the same rights. What are the provisions for extraterritorial jurisdiction in this area?