Labour Party Publishes Information and Tracing Bill for Mother & Baby Home Survivors
19 January 2021
- Bill will provide improved access to birth information and tracing for adopted people
The Labour Party today published its Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2021 which will provide improved information and tracing access for adopted people. If enacted, this Bill will amend the Adoption Act 2010 to provide adopted persons with the right to access their birth certificates.
Labour spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik, said:
“Last week marked an important moment of reckoning with Ireland’s dark and shameful history. The publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report has provided us with new insights into Ireland’s appalling treatment of women and children over many decades. Now that the report is published, we must stand with the survivors and ensure that their voices are heard.
“This Bill that we publish today seeks to carry out the expressed wishes of survivors in providing them with the right to access their birth certificates. There is an urgent need to legislate for robust and effective information and tracing rights for adopted persons – and successive governments have spent years examining how best to formulate such legislation. Last week, I expressed concern at reports that the Government will not be in a position to publish such legislation until much later this year. In order to expedite the process, I am today putting forward this short Bill to address the matter by enabling adopted persons to obtain the information necessary to access their birth certificate.
“There has never been an absolute ban on providing this information enabling a link to be made between the register of births and the register of adoptions: both the Adoption Authority and a court have always been entitled to order the production of records that enable an applicant to trace the link. We are aware of the arguments about the need to balance the right of an adopted person to their birth information with the birth mother’s privacy rights. But we believe that current State policy is overly skewed towards privacy rights. Currently, unless a natural mother has indicated her preference for contact, her presumed wish for secrecy overrides the adopted adult’s right to know their identity.
“Our Bill would simply reverse that presumption. We are introducing it now because we believe and our legal advice confirms that it is open to the Oireachtas to legislate in a way that upholds one set of rights in preference to another. Thus we are legislating in favour of the right to information. We are calling on the Government now to adopt a similar approach, in consultation with survivors and representative groups, and provide a timeline for passage of the legislation necessary to ensure that at last, survivors will have access to this vital personal information.’