Thursday, 2 June 2022
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
19. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his plans for the implementation of each of the recommendations of the report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection Proposals for a State Response to Illegal Birth Registrations in Ireland; the timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28489/22]
In March 2021, following publication of the Independent Review into Illegal Birth Registration, I asked Professor Conor O’Mahony, the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, to consider the significant complexities and challenges which arise in relation to the issue of illegal birth registration, and to provide a report proposing an appropriate course of action. On 14th March 2022 I published the report which sets out 17 numbered recommendations.
The Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022 will robustly fulfill the vast majority of the report's recommendations, specifically addressing recommendations 1- 14 inclusive. In terms of the status of this Bill, it was passed by Dáil Éireann on 27th April 2022 and is currently at Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann. My hope is that it will be enacted this summer, with some elements of the legislation having immediate effect and others being commenced in the autumn.
In relation to recommendation 16 regarding a payment towards legal costs associated with, for example, a declaration of parentage - I have previously signalled my intention to establish a payment scheme to make once-off payments of €3,000 to the individuals affected by confirmed illegal birth registration. The development of this scheme is at an advanced stage with a view to implementation as soon as possible in 2022.
In relation to recommendation 17 that a State inquiry into illegal adoptions should be established on a non-statutory basis, this must be considered in the context of the overall Action Plan for Survivors and Former Residents of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions and, specifically, in the context of the recently announced proposals for a National Centre for Research and Remembrance. The Centre will comprise a number of distinct, yet interrelated, areas, including a museum and exhibition space, the development of which will be led by the National Museum of Ireland; and a place for reflection and remembrance.
In addition, it will contain a research centre and central repository of records related to institutional trauma in the 20th century, which will form part of the National Archives. One unique aspect of the central repository will be the intended inclusion of the personal testimonies of survivors; allowing the lived experiences of survivors- in their own words- to be formally acknowledged as part of the official record and preserved for posterity.
This important initiative, therefore, addresses the issue of access to records which is so crucial for any further analysis or inquiry, as well as fulfilling one of the key objectives of any truth commission, namely giving voice and providing official recognition to the lived experience of people affected by the legacy of these institutions and historical adoption practices.