Deputy Shatter referred to the Bill as a milestone and Deputy McCartan referred to it as a very major development. I agree entirely with them. It is most important social legislation. I would like to thank the Deputies genuinely for their co-operation in the passage of the Bill. It will remove from our law a wide range of discriminations against persons whose parents have not married each other. I appreciate greatly the contributions the Deputies have made in the course of the debate on this Bill. Because the legislation we are dealing with is complex and has very many ramifications into other areas of law, their contributions were very constructive and helpful.
By enacting this legislation in a spirit of unanimity concerning the basic principles underlying the Bill we have demonstrated our commitment to equalising the status of children. The enactment of the Bill will ensure that this country will be in a position to ratify the European Convention on the Status of Children Born out of Wedlock. I assure this House that once the Act is in operation, which at the outside will be six months after its passing, steps will be taken early to ratify that convention.
The rules committees have already been asked to consider what rules of court will be necessary to give full practical effect to the Bill. All possible steps will be taken to ensure that the rules of court and other subsidiary legislation will be in place so that the Act can be brought into force if possible sooner than six months after its enactment.
In passing this Bill the Oireachtas and the politicians have led the way in providing for the rights of children whose parents are not married to each other and in removing discriminations which are there at present. It is a very major step and one major feature of it is the fact that any future legislation must carry these provisions. That is provided for in section 3 which enunciates the general principles central to the Bill that for the purposes of this and future Acts relationships are to be determined without regard to whether the parents of any person are or have been married to each other unless the contrary intention appears. This is a major development not just in this Act but in the context of all future Acts.
I welcome the passing of the Bill. I thank the Deputies for their assistance in having it passed at this stage and I look forward to it coming into practice and being implemented at the earliest possible time.