Labour Bill seeks to give adopted people right to birth information

Legislation would reverse State policy ‘overly skewed towards privacy rights’, Bacik says

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said her Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill would provide adopted persons with the right to access their birth certificate. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The irish Times.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said her Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill would provide adopted persons with the right to access their birth certificate. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The irish Times.

 

New adoption legislation to reverse a State policy that is “overly skewed towards privacy rights” has been introduced in the Seanad.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said her Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill would provide adopted persons with the right to access their birth certificate through an existing index, which “maintains connections between entries in the adopted children’s register and the register of births”.

Ms Bacik said anyone in Northern Ireland who has been adopted has had the right since 1987 to get their original birth certificate from the age of 18.

“In this jurisdiction for far too long there is far too restrictive a view of GDPR and of the Constitution and it’s time to legislate on this.”

The Bill comes ahead of the Government’s adoption information and tracing legislation which is due to be published at the end of this month or in early April.

Seanad leader Regina Doherty said “regardless of whose Bill we adopt, people have waited far, far too long to get access” to their early life information.

Timely

Ms Bacik said the Bill was particularly timely in the wake of the “really compelling and extraordinary” RTÉ Investigates programme this week on illegal adoptions.

She commended the journalists and “particularly those brave individuals” who told of the discovery, often quite late in their lives, that they had been adopted and their birth certificates or other documents falsified.

Ms Bacik said “they still aren’t allowed access to original documents” as she stressed the need for additional legislation to address the specific practice of “illegal adoption and falsified records”.

The Labour senator pointed to legislation on illegal adoptions published in 2019 by former tánaiste Joan Burton to deal with falsified birth and adoption certificates. She drafted the Bill after initial revelations of 126 illegal registrations of births or adoptions by St Patrick’s Guild, a Catholic adoption society.

Review

Some 30 additional illegal adoptions have since been registered and an independent sampling review of other adoption agencies commissioned by the Government is due for publication shortly.

Fianna Fáil senator Erin McGreehan highlighted the Government’s legislation and said “we need to get people’s truth back and work on illegal adoptions”.

She asked that Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman come to the Seanad to debate how best to rectify the issue.

Ms Doherty said the RTÉ programme “brings to fore the misogyny” of the State, the Catholic Church and the medical profession in the way they treated women.