International surrogacies could be recognised by State under proposals being brought to Cabinet

Minister for Health is bringing a memo that could potentially recognise the status of hundreds of families who had children born by surrogacy abroad

Hundreds of Irish couples who have gone down the route of international surrogacy could have their arrangements recognised by the State for the first time under new legislative proposals being presented to Cabinet.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo to the Government on Tuesday that will have the potential to provide a route to formal recognition by the State of the surrogacy arrangements they have undertaken, or will undertake, in other jurisdictions.

The proposed legislation addresses the issue of international surrogacy for the first time. Until now, there has been no statutory provision to satisfactorily address the status of children born abroad by surrogacy, or the status of their parents.

Mr Donnelly has proposed new procedures for prospective international surrogacy arrangements. For the first time under the law, they will have the potential of being preapproved by a new authority or regulator with express powers to address those issues. The proposed law also provides for a post-birth Circuit Court process that will grant a parental order.


It also proposes that, for retrospective surrogacies, the High Court may grant a parental order on the basis of a number of criteria being met, including a determination by the court that it is in the best interests of the child.

The new provisions will be tabled by the Government as amendments to the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill that passed the second stage in the Dáil in 2022.

The Bill was paused to allow for the insertion of new provisions in respect of the regulation of international surrogacy agreements and the recognition of certain past surrogacy arrangements.

If approved by Cabinet, the amendments will be referred to the Oireachtas Committee on Health for the committee stage. This process is likely to begin in January.

The legislation is regarded within the Government as far-reaching and complex. It will also address assisted human reproduction practices to ensure they are conducted in a more consistent and standardised way and with the necessary oversight.

Mr Donnelly is expected to tell ministerial colleagues that no other state has attempted to address those issues in such a comprehensive manner.

Elsewhere, Minister for Education Norma Foley will bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday on a new strategy to promote lifelong career guidance.

The National Strategic Framework for Lifelong Guidance will be geared towards providing information, advice and counselling to people so they will be able to make better choices in education and in their careers.

Ms Foley’s memo will argue that changing patterns of work will require people to change jobs more often than before, which will mean the need to acquire new, and wider, skills.

The action plan spans across five Government departments and will be published in the coming weeks.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will inform the Cabinet that a new office, that of an agri-food regulator, is being established. The regulator, now as An Rialálaí Agraibhia, will be a new semi-State agency and will have a remit to ensure fairness in the food chain and will have a specific role in analysing and reporting on price and market data in Ireland.

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Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times