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To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she is satisfied that adoption records are adequately protected; her plans to improve their protection; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

-Mick Wallace

for PRIORITY ANSWER on 09/05/2013  


In consultation with the Adoption Authority and the HSE, my Department is examining legislative and administrative options in relation to accessing records which may exist. I intend strengthening the legislative provisions regarding maintenance and access to adoption records in the forthcoming Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill.  An important aspect of the proposed legislation relates to responsibility for adoption records. The intention is that the Bill is to provide that either the Adoption Authority, the HSE or an accredited body may hold adoption records, with the Authority having overall charge of those records. It is intended that the Bill will provide for the Adoption Authority to be responsible for providing access to adoption records, in accordance with the provisions of the Bill. The Bill will provide for the Adoption Authority to establish and maintain a National Index of Adoption Records, the purpose of which is to help an applicant for adoption information to identify the location of his or her adoption records.

The HSE have already commenced the take over of files.  In late 2011 the HSE Adoption Services took responsibility for the adoption files of the Sacred Heart Adoption Society in respect of homes in Bessborough, Co. Cork; St Peters, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath and Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. These files have since been transferred to the HSE in their entirety and are stored in specialised facilities in Glanmire Co Cork.

It is also intended that the Bill will provide for placing the National Contact Preference Register on a statutory basis. The purpose of the Register is to allow a person affected by adoption to enter  his or her name on the Register with a view to receiving information about another person from whom he or she has been separated as a result of adoption and also to indicate a preference as to whether or not contact is being sought with that person.

When the former Adoption Board launched the National Adoption Contact Preference Register  in 2005, provision was made for persons, who were party to the illegal registration of a child, to declare an interest in the Register for possible contact with another relevant party sometime in the future. Fundamental to the success of the National Contact Preference Register is that any persons with information in this regard contact the Information and Tracing Unit of the Adoption Authority.  The Adoption Act 1952 provided a legal basis for adoption in Ireland and for the establishment of the Adoption Board thereby bringing order to what had been the adhoc arrangements which had previously existed in lieu of formal adoption procedures.

A National Tracing Service will be established under the provisions of the Bill, the operation of which will be subject to guidelines to be set out in regulations. It is intended that the Tracing Service is to be made available to an adopted person, a birth parent and a relative of either an adopted person or a birth parent, and that the Adoption Authority is to have overall responsibility for providing the tracing service.

Work on the development of the Adoption ( Information and Tracing) Bill is also proceeding. This includes careful examination of the Constitutional and legal issues involved in the disclosure of information relating to a person and the issues of privacy which arise where the consent of all the parties involved has not been obtained.

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Namaleaks is a project that seeks to uncover possible injustice and poor practice related to NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and financial institutions in Ireland.


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