Thursday, 16 September 2021
Adoption (Information) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
I thank my colleagues, Deputies Pringle and Connolly, for tabling this Bill. It is a discussion that needs to be had. The Bill will move the situation on. Deputy Connolly pointed out that the basic right to identity was key for people. The Bill is simple in that regard, in that it is asking for people to have the right find out what their identities are. The Minister raised issues relating to parents, fathers, care and so on. Recently, GlaxoSmithKline stated that it would provide information on vaccine trials carried out on people in mother and baby homes and other places where children were very much on their own. People must go through their GPs, who will then decide whether they will get the information. That is outrageous. I have a right to my medical files. Through my GP, I have a right to know everything about what has been put in my body since I was born. This attitude towards human beings whose parents survived mother and baby homes and who themselves survived those homes of putting them in a different category of not being able to deal with issues is not on.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, ICCL, raised fundamental points about the Bill. In response to the mother and baby homes commission, the ICCL stated: "A key missing element of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission's investigation and report is a comprehensive analysis of abuses that occurred in and around the Mother and Baby Homes against the clear human rights standards and obligations on the State that were in place at that time, including in the Irish Constitution and in the European Convention on Human Rights (ratified by Ireland in 1953)." Regarding the right to access documents in respect of identity, the ICCL stated:
The State has an obligation to fulfil the right of all individuals to access documents that contain their personal data and provide information about their personal identity. It is vital that every individual born in Ireland has access to their birth certificate. Birth certificates have been a matter of public record in Ireland since 1864 and it is high time all individuals were afforded access to such a fundamental record of their own personal identify.
That is what this Bill is quickly trying to achieve through the Dáil. It is a basic step forward. The Minister is saying that he will get his Bill through very quickly and that the protection of the rights of parents must be taken on board. While the right to identity must be placed above that, there obviously must be protections for parents whose children are searching for them.
We must move through the legislative process quickly by accepting this simple Bill and then dealing with the Minister's Bill. I do not know whether his will take six months or however long. Perhaps he could give the House an idea about how long he expects it will take to be before the Dáil for scrutiny.
I will finish on an email that I received this evening. It reads:
Please support this Bill tonight. Access to one's birth certificate is a fundamental human right.
Through current GDPR requests, I got unfettered access to just 5% of my files held under AAI and 12% from TUSLA. Both denied me my Birth Certificate.
That is not on and is what the Bill is trying to address.