Adoption process to remain same regardless of vote – authority chief

On TV debate Geoffrey Shannon stresses he is not advocating for Yes or No in referendum

Chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland Geoffrey Shannon said the adoption process would not change. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times

Chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland Geoffrey Shannon said the adoption process would not change. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times

 

The Irish adoption process will remain the same regardless of the outcome of the upcoming referendum, the chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland has said.

Geoffrey Shannon, who is also the Government’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, stressed that he was not advocating a Yes or No vote.

He said the purpose of the interview, carried on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live , was to provide clarity on adoption.

“Whether you vote Yes or No on the 22nd of May, the adoption process is not going to change,” Mr Shannon said, adding that the key requirement in determining whether somebody is granted a licence to adopt was the best interests of the child.

Ms Byrne questioned Mr Shannon as to whether the birth mother could decide that she did not want her child to be adopted by a same-sex couple and as to whether this could change as the result of a Yes vote.

“If the birth mother decides that she does not want to place her child with a same-sex couple that decision will invariably be respected,” Mr Shannon said.

However, Senator Ronan Mullen who is advocating a No vote in the upcoming referendum, said he was “not reassured” by Mr Shannon’s comments. “He is talking about the current situation. I don’t think he’s weighing the impact of this constitutional change and the possible impact of European court jurisprudence in this area,” Mr Mullen said.

“The problem is when you’re determining best interest you can determine and make decisions on how wealthy the couple are or how old the couple are but the one thing you will not be able to take into account, because of the. . . article of the Constitution we are changing, is the father/mother dimension,” he said.

However, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said every political party in Ireland was advocating for a Yes vote having been reassured by expert positions such as that put forward by Mr Shannon.

Referring to another issue which has featured heavily in the referendum debate, that of surrogacy, Mr Coveney said, this was a separate issue which would be decided by the Government in due course.

“We may decide to outlaw surrogacy in Ireland as indeed lots of other countries have . . . that is up to the Oireachtas to decide and we will have to decide that in due course. But the issues around surrogacy and the regulation or outlawing of it or legislation around it are a separate issue to this referendum,” Mr Coveney said.