Written Answers. - Convention on Inter-Country Adoption.

Ray Burke

Question:

26 Mr. R. Burke asked the Minister for Health the circumstances under which the Government has failed to ratify the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption in spite of assurances that it would be ratified as matter of priority. [3225/97]

I am fully supportive of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption and its objectives. It represents an important instrument for improved international co-operation in the area of child protection. In order to demonstrate the Government's commitment towards the Convention and our intention of ratifying it, Ireland signed the Convention on 19 June 1996.

Before the Convention can be ratified by Ireland, it will be necessary to give the Convention the force of law in the State. This will involve making major changes to our domestic adoption legislation including the Adoption Act, 1991 which contains the current statutory procedures for the regulation and recognition of foreign adoptions.

I have not been in a position to bring forward the necessary legislation thus far as the immediate priority in the area of adoption has been the Adoption (No. 2) Bill 1996. This Bill addresses the issues arising from the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Keegan v Ireland and also provides for the recognition of adoptions in countries whose law provides for the termination of adoption in certain circumstances. I would point out that both these issues arose subsequent to the completion of the Hague Convention.

The Adoption (No. 2) Bill 1996 has passed all Stages in the Daíl and is now due to be taken in the Senate. Following completion of the work on this Bill, I expect to be in a position to bring forward the necessary legislation to enable ratification of the Hague Convention later this year.