Dáil debates

Thursday, 20 January 2022

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


1:35 pm

Photo of Paul DonnellyPaul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

While this Bills seem like a step forward, it takes several steps back, unfortunately, and I am getting a huge response from people who have said that it does not go far enough. They have said that they find the Government spin that this Bill is a win for adoptees as most disappointing. I welcome the Minister's attempt to change antiquated adoption regulations and bring us in line with international norms. Unfortunately, it seems this Bill does not go far enough. Unrestricted access to birth certificates and information have not been provided for in this Bill, a redline issue for adoptees, which the Minister and the Government are well aware of. It is also missing a raft of recommendations from the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, as has been stated time and again by Deputies.

From the formation of the State, Governments, hand in hand with religious orders and others, have treated adoptees, single mothers and women in general as second-class citizens. They portrayed those who fell into the clutches of the mother and baby homes as having some sort of dirty secret. As we know, many of these stories of the women are absolutely heart breaking and it is time we stopped stigmatising these citizens and their children. I wish to ask the Minister, and I will follow up with him on this, about access to birth certs and birth information.

Is it being considered on a 32-county basis? I was sent an email by a gentleman whose mother was from the South. They were moved to another institution in the North and then back down South again. How will that information be obtained? I note reference in section 36 to applications by certain adopted persons for tracing services in another jurisdiction. From reading this, it seems to pertain to people from outside the State who are looking for information because they were adopted outside of the State and are seeking information in the Twenty-six Counties. There are anomalies between people who were in institutions in the North and South and moved between two institutions, who live in the North and the South. How will that be addressed?

In the case of adoptees who seek their birth information record on medical grounds relating to a possible hereditary illness, it is wrong to deny or tie in red tape the information they seek. I am concerned with wording "relevant information". Who decides what is relevant or not? That is something that needs to be addressed. I understand it is a very emotive subject. I have already outlined in the Chamber my family's personal experiences in regard to this, in that my wife was adopted. I understand the Department has to work within general data protection regulations, but it is important that we make it accessible to all and let the Department deal with individuals on a compassionate basis. Let us heal the hurt as best we can.

I thank all those who were in contact with my office and commend all the adoptees, survivors and their families and advocates for their unending and relentless pursuit of justice over the 20 years since the first legislation was introduced.


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