New legislation that will allow adopted people to access their birth certificates, and birth and early life information has been welcomed by Senator Fiona O’Loughlin.
“It has always been my belief that everyone has a right to know their identity, and I have championed that at every occasion,” said Senator O’Loughlin speaking in the wake of the long-awaited Heads of Bill, which was published yesterday.
” It has been heartbreaking to hear from many adopted people about their fruitless searches for their birth parents, and being blocked in their search. Sadly for some, this will come too late, but for many today is a hugely significant day. Last October, when the Mother and baby home report was being discussed, deliberate misinformation was peddled that the retention of records bill was going to block peoples access to their records. This was never the intention and I vowed then that I would play my part in ensuring that access to birth information and tracing would be enshrined in legislation. Some may remember that social media was vile at the time, with my home address posted on line, with suggestions of barricading me there.”
Senator O’Loughlin added that this is a vindication. “Minister Roderic O`Gorman producing ground -breaking legislation will provide – for the first time – a full and clear right of access to crucial information for adopted people. It will enshrine in law a right to access birth certificates, birth and early life information for people who have questions in relation to their origins.”
The bill takes a comprehensive approach to Ensure access for all people who were adopted, boarded out, the subject of an illegal birth registration and others with questions in relation to their identity; Providing access to birth certificates, birth information, early life information, care information, and medical information that may be contained in institutional or other records. It is focused on supporting people to get answers to questions on their origins as quickly as possible and adopts an approach of opening up access to records where they reside, with strong supports in place to assist people in this.The legislation establishes a robust tracing service for people who want to make contact, share information or request information from a birth relative.
It also establishes a new statutory Contact Preference Register to allow people to record their preference in relation to having contact with birth relatives, as well as where they wish to lodge, for the attention of a specified relative, communications, contemporary medical information or requests for information. It unlocks access to records for those affected by an illegal birth registration and offers a mechanism to provide choice and clarity on matters relating to identity. It provides for the safeguarding of relevant records and will create offences for destroying, falsifying or mutilating those records.
“For far too long, adopted people and others have struggled with unanswered questions in relation to their identity and origins, and have felt huge distress and inequity of that. I look forward to the progress of this legislation through the Dáil and Seanad to right the injustices that have happened over generations,” she concluded