Release 20th October 2011
rights group looks forward to information legislation
Rights Alliance (ARA), a group advocating for equal human and civil
rights for those affected by Ireland's closed secret adoption system,
says it had a constructive meeting yesterday with Minister for Children
Frances Fitzgerald. ARA
welcomed the news that the Minister plans to publish heads of bill for
adoption information legislation in the coming months.
August, ARA submitted legislative proposals to Minister Fitzgerald,
which were acknowledged as helpful by the Minister yesterday.
The Minister said she intends to include retrospective tracing
rights in the legislation, while bearing in mind the current
interpretation of constitutional limitations.
The Minister also noted that the Children’s Rights Referendum
is scheduled to occur during the passage of the adoption bill through
the Oireachtas, which the Alliance believes will assist in overcoming
the constitutional problems. ARA
says it had a helpful discussion with the Minister regarding the
constitutional issues during which the group outlined its position on
the I O’T v B judgement from 1998 which is at the centre of the
conservative interpretation by agency and HSE social workers of the I
O’T v B judgement, as well as outdated attitudes towards adopted
people and natural parents, have had a detrimental effect on the release
of information to adopted people. ARA
offered the Minister an insight into some of the discriminatory
practices reported to them by service users, which translate into delays
so extensive that often one of the people being sought or searching has
died before the trace is completed.
Mari Steed, ARA’s US Coordinator said: “The legislation must
be introduced without delay to bring Ireland in line with international
best practice which has a presumption towards openness.”
Fitzgerald told the ARA delegates that this was the first meeting in a
process of engagement. Claire McGettrick, from ARA said “Our meeting
with Minister Fitzgerald was very positive as it appears that the
Minister accepts the need for Ireland’s 50,000+ adopted people to be
able to access their birth certificates and early care records as part
of their quest for identity.”
Minister also said that there are plans to centralise adoption records,
a move welcomed by ARA:
However Susan Lohan urged the Minister to ensure that the new
legislation would take into account all files containing information on
adopted people’s origins, including but not limited to Mother and Baby
Home files, private agency files, HSE files, the Dept of Foreign Affairs
files, GP files and nursing home files.
Susan Lohan said that the safeguarding of all files was of the
greatest importance particularly for those who had been illegally
Adoption Rights Alliance has described the upcoming information
legislation as potentially historic:
“A new Adoption Information Bill would mark the end of an
almost 60 year delay in legislating for adoption information rights.
When it is considered that the first people adopted under the
1952 Act turned 18 in 1970, we can only hope it will be worth waiting
for,” said Susan Lohan.
here to email Adoption Rights Alliance
In August Adoption Rights Alliance submitted a document to
Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald which outlined proposals for
adoption information legislation, as well as recommendations for
inquiries into illegal adoption practices and the treatment of women and
girls in Mother and Baby Homes. The
proposals include Adoption Rights Alliance’s position on the I O’T v
document is available for download here.
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