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To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on reports that only 11 children have been adopted from abroad under the terms of the Hague Adoption Convention, which Ireland ratified in November 2010, even though there are 537 active declarations; her plans to speed up this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace For ORAL answer on Thursday, 27th March, 2014.


The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is a multilateral treaty concluded on May 29, 1993 in The Hague, Netherlands. There are currently 93 contracting states to this Convention. Ireland ratified the Convention on 1st November 2010. Ireland strongly supports the principles of the Convention, which strengthen protections for children, birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents in the adoption process. The Convention provides a framework for Convention countries to work together to ensure that adoptions take place in the best interests of children and to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children in connection with intercountry adoption. The Convention requires authorities to prioritise the improvement of domestic systems for the care and adoption of children.  This is in line with Article 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ireland has also ratified. The increasing international recognition and commitment to the Hague Convention, particularly amongst a growing number of developing countries, is extremely welcome in providing safeguards for adoption processes and for those children whom are now benefiting from improved child welfare, protection and care arrangements in their own countries.

Under current Irish legislation, applicants who seek an assessment as to their eligibility and suitability to adopt are entitled to that assessment from the Child and Family Agency. The assessment leads to an application to the Adoption Authority for a Declaration of Eligibility & Suitability to Adopt. If the applicants are found to be eligible and suitable, then a Declaration is issued. A declaration allows an applicant to apply to adopt, it is not a guarantee that an adoption will take place. It is now a reality that the numbers of children available for intercountry adoption has fallen worldwide. For example, total number of children adopted into the top twelve receiving states in 2004 was 43,142. In 2011, this figure had dropped to 21,911 or by some 50 per cent.  The Adoption Authority can only authorise placement of children with applicants where the children are available for adoption and have been referred by the sending country in question.

Significant work is under way with suitable countries where there is potential to promote closer cooperation in intercountry adoption matters.  Following Vietnan’s ratification of the Hague Convention Ireland was the first country to conclude an administrative agreement relating to intercountry adoption. A similar agreement has been put in place with the United States.  The Adoption Authority is currently engaging with a number of other Hague Convention countries in relation to intercountry adoptions including the Central Authority for India, China, Thailand and the Philippines.  Haiti is due to enter into the Hague Convention next month and a delegation from the Adoption Authority will visit there next week.  I am also aware that Ethiopia is currently seeking to bring its adoption standards up to those required under the Hague Convention and I have asked the Adoption Authority to keep me updated on the position. It is important to recognise that, although a country may be a member of Hague, legal and administrative obstacles may remain, there may be no children available for adoption or restrictions may be set in relation to the categories of children or prospective adoptive parents qualifying for intercountry adoption.

The Adoption Act, 2010 requires that adoptions from countries which have not ratified the Hague Convention can only take place where there is a bi-lateral agreement in place or under certain transitional arrangements which applied to certain prospective adoptive parents who had commenced the adoption process before the Adoption Act came into effect.  Russia has not ratified the Hague Convention.  However, my Department is continuing its discussion with the Russian authorities with a view to exploring the possibilities of establishing a bi-lateral agreement. I visited Russia in September of last year in this regard and my Department and the Adoption Authority subsequently hosted a visit from the Russian authorities. Official discussions are continuing.

To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the contact she has had with the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána in relation to allegations that prejudice against Travellers is endemic within An Garda Síochána and that Traveller children, including a 16 day old baby, have been registered on the PULSE system and ascribed a criminal intelligence number without any proper foundation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace For ORAL answer on Thursday, 27th March, 2014. REPLY.

I can inform both deputies that I have had no contact with the Department of Justice and Equality or with An Garda Síochána in relation to the matter outlined in the questions above. I have no function in this matter. I am aware that my colleague Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter has recently replied to similar questions which have been put to him in this matter.

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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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