Written Answers. - Adoption Information.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

63 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if the Freedom of Information Bill as currently drafted will fully comply with the UN Convention on the rights of the child in relation to the exclusion of adoption information. [3990/97]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

69 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the current provisions, if any, for siblings separated by adoption. [3976/97]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 63 and 69 together.

At present, access to birth records by adopted persons is restricted under section 22 of the Adoption Act, 1952. Where circumstances permit, an adoption agency will do what it can to facilitate contact between adopted persons and birth relatives by mutual voluntary consent provided it is satisfied, through counselling, that both parties are fully cognisant of the considerations and implications involved in such a step.

The establishment of a new and comprehensive legal framework for access to birth records by adopted persons and for post-adoption contact is a priority of the Government. It is my firm intention that the necessary enabling legislation will be brought forward as quickly as possible after a number of legal and constitutional issues have been clarified. These legal and constitutional issues will have a direct bearing on the nature and scope of the framework that will be put in place.

In the meantime, I am proceeding with arrangements for the establishment, on an administrative basis, of an adoption contact register to assist adoptees and birth relatives who wish to be put in touch with one another.

It was decided not to include adoption information under the Freedom of Information Bill as that Bill is essentially a framework piece of legislation. Given their complexity and sensitivity, the issues surrounding adoption could not be adequately dealt with within that framework and are more appropriate to adoption legislation. I have signalled my commitment to the introduction of such legislation and, therefore, the issue of the compliance of the Freedom of Information Bill with the UN convention on the rights of the child does not arise.

It should be noted that there is some doubt as to whether or not the release of birth information to adopted adults comes under the terms of the UN convention. I expect that this issue will be clarified by the UN committee on the rights of the child. The first national report of Ireland under the convention is due to be heard by the committee in Geneva during 1998.