New legislation which aims to provide adopted people access to their information, passed all stages in the Oireachtas last month.
The Minister for Children has said the Birth, Information and Tracing Bill 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.
The new law will see the establishment of a tracing service and a Contact Preference Register, as well as a range of new measures to address issues arising for people affected by illegal birth registration. A broad spectrum of counselling and support will also be provided to persons on request.
All of these services will be free of charge for applicants.
Speaking about the passage of the legislation, the Minister said, “This is a historic moment. The Birth Information and Tracing Bill finally and conclusively addresses the wrongful denial of people’s identity rights over many decades in this State.
“Crucially, the new law finally overcomes decades of legal obstacles to provide a clear right for each person to full access to all of his or her information, – no redactions; nothing held back. This Bill represents a very significant part of the redress that the Irish State is making for its failure towards children and women over decades since the foundation of our State.”
An information campaign will run from early July which will see every household contacted and informed about what the plans involve. Under the Bill, a contact preference register must be open for a minimum period of three months before applications for birth certificate and related birth information will be accepted.
The information campaign will run during this time to inform the public of the changes arising from the legislation, and to allow those affected by the legislation to register with the national contact preference register. The campaign will run in Ireland and internationally and will include an information booklet issued to every house in the country, to radio and newspaper advertising, as well as a poster campaign.
The Clann Project, which represents many people who were adopted from institutions in the past, have described the bill as “paternalistic and unjust”. Claire McGettrick of the Clann Project – who has scrutinised the legislation since it was published earlier this year – described it as discriminatory, singling out adopted people out as different, making them “less-than” in the eyes of the law.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.