Landmark legislation will, for the first time, enshrine in law a clear right to full birth, early life, care and medical information for all those with questions on their origins
Bill revised with significant changes to information session, expansion of information available, and inclusion of next of kin.
Legislation will, if enacted, respond comprehensively to the decades-long campaign on the part of adopted people to vindicate their fundamental rights to information.
Bill will begin debate in the Oireachtas this month.
This landmark legislation will provide a full and clear right of access to birth certificates, birth and early life information for all persons who were adopted, boarded out, the subject of an illegal birth registration or who otherwise have questions in relation to their origins.
Crucially, the Bill’s requirement for an information session where a parent has expressed a no-contact preference now no longer needs to be a physical meeting; the revised bill makes provision for this to take place by means of a short phone call or video call if desired.
In response to issues raised during Pre-Legislative Scrutiny, the Minister has made key changes, including:
The requirement for the information session to be held by a social worker has been removed.
The information session will include explicit recognition of the identity rights of the applicant and their right to access their birth certificate and birth information.
Next-of-kin will be able to avail of the legislation to access information about a family member in specific circumstances.
The definition of early life information has been expanded to provide for the release of baptismal certificates and entries on the baptismal register.
The legislation will use term ‘mother’ instead of ‘birth mother’.
Over and above access to information and records, the legislation also establishes a comprehensive tracing service for persons who want to make contact with family or who wish to seek or share information.
It also establishes a new statutory Contact Preference Register. This register offers a means for people to register their preference for contact with family and also a mechanism to lodge communications and contemporary medical information which can be shared with family members.
The legislation addresses the issues facing people who are the subject of an illegal birth registration. The Bill will provide a legal mechanism for provision of an accurate birth registration to affected individuals, while remaining mindful of their current identity.
Speaking on the published Bill, Minister O’Gorman said:
“This legislation has been an absolute priority for me. For decades in this country, adopted people have been failed in being denied clear access to their identity information.
"With this bill, we are restoring to adopted people the information that so many of us take for granted as part of our own, personal stories. The Bill ends Ireland’s outlier status in terms of having legislation that provides access to information about one’s origins."
The Minister intends to begin second stage of this priority legislation in the Houses of the Oireachtas within the next two weeks.