Dáil debates

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022: Second Stage (Resumed)


1:10 pm

Photo of Chris AndrewsChris Andrews (Dublin Bay South, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Deputy Roderic O'Gorman, to the House, and I welcome the opportunity to speak on this important Bill. I recognise and acknowledge the hard work done by my colleague Deputy Kathleen Funchion in ensuring that the Bill and the process has been thorough, efficient and the best it can be.

Since the formation of the State, the routes available for accessing of information by adopted people in Ireland have provided little support and few answers. As a result, adopted people seeking information on their birth and early life information files have been left with no clear legislative framework. Sadly, the Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022 brings little hope of change. I acknowledge that the Bill will make some slight progress on the current situation, but it is very slight. Crucially, I believe that it fails to take on many of the recommendations contained in the report of the Joint Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. In fact, it has failed to take on board the most important recommendations. Yes, it has taken on some recommendations, but given that the report was only published on 14 December 2021, it seems that the Minister had already decided what he wanted to do with this particular legislation. With that in mind, we in Sinn Féin cannot support the Bill in its present form. We cannot have legislation that leaves some adopted people behind. We need inclusive legislation that provides all adopted people with the support and information to which they have a right.

We have many concerns on what we view as major weaknesses within this legislation. The Bill fails to provide unrestricted access to birth certificates, adoption files and early life information. The definition of personal data is not clear. This weak definition leaves the door open to various interpretations. The narrow definitions used in the Bill are very concerning and they need to be expanded to include individual agencies and institutions involved in forced family separations. We need stronger definitions put in place.

The method provided in the Bill for accessing records is hugely problematic. It allows only for part of the files to be released as opposed to the whole file. Applicants are expected to apply for several different categories of information. This will add completely unnecessary complications to the process. Perhaps the Minister will clarify why he is nodding his head. We need the process simplified to allow greater access to files, not unnecessary complications put in the way of adopted people that make it more difficult for adopted people when seeking their information.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.