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Two resign from adoption authority

JAMIE SMYTH, Social Affairs Correspondent

Irish Times, Fri, Dec 31, 2010

THE ADOPTION Authority has suffered a setback with the resignation of two board members just two months after it was established by the Government to overhaul the entire adoption process.

Two of the authority’s seven board members – psychologist Dr Helen Greally and medical practitioner Dr Cyril McNulty – have stood down in recent weeks.

The authority has also not yet announced the appointment of a chief executive, although this is expected to be done very shortly.

The chairman of the authority, solicitor Geoffrey Shannon, said yesterday both board members had resigned for personal reasons and there were no differences of opinion about the board’s work.

“The authority is working well and is building a world-class adoption authority,” he said.

Concerns have been expressed in recent weeks by voluntary adoption agencies, which operated under the old legislative regime, and the Council of Irish Adoption Agencies, about delays in getting the new system in place.

“The fact there has been no transitional arrangement creates hardship for those parties already in the process and engaged with voluntary agencies,” Sheila Gallagher, secretary of the Council of Irish Adoption Agencies, said last month.

Shane Downer of the Arc Adoption agency, which is hoping to become accredited in the new year, said yesterday he was concerned the resignation of board members may delay the accreditation of new adoption agencies.

“We would hope the board will resume full complement as soon as possible because there is a serious amount of work to be done,” he said.

The authority is working to introduce a new framework for domestic and inter-country adoptions following the entry into force of the Adoption Act 2010 on November 1st. It has the task of accrediting mediation agencies, which will work with countries from which children are adopted and prospective adoptive parents. The authority also needs to accredit agencies that will assess people for their suitability to become adoptive parents.

But so far no agencies have been accredited and there are fears a lengthy delay may leave people hoping to adopt in limbo.

One of the key reasons for the change in adoption regime was to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption.

When the new authority was announced, Mr Shannon said it would end the practice whereby prospective adoptive parents made a financial contribution to the child’s country in “humanitarian aid”.

It is estimated more than 42,000 adoptions of Irish children have taken place, and a further 5,000 children have been adopted into Ireland.

2010 The Irish Times

 

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