News & Media

Senator Bacik Calls for Urgent Information Legislation for Adopted Persons

3 March 2021

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration

Speaking today in advance of the RTÉ Investigates documentary on illegal adoptions, Labour spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik has spoken in support of the calls by Dr Conor O'Mahony, the government's special rapporteur on child protection, for the urgent introduction of information and tracing legislation. 

Senator Bacik said:

"I share Dr O'Mahony's concerns about the long delays in introducing this important legislation. This Friday in the Seanad I will be introducing a Bill that we in Labour have recently drafted, which would address these concerns. Our Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2021 would provide improved information and tracing access for adopted people. If enacted, this Bill would amend the Adoption Act 2010 to provide adopted persons with the right to access their birth certificates. 

“This Bill seeks to carry out the expressed wishes of survivors of Mother and Baby Homes, and other adopted persons, 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. 

"This short Bill would enable 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 proposing legislation now in favour of the right to information. We are calling on the Government now to adopt a similar approach."