The Deputy has asked for information on records about persons who were told or believed they had been adopted and in respect of whom there are no adoption records. It must be understood the Adoption Authority of Ireland like its predecessor, the Adoption Board, has no statutory responsibility in the matter raised but has endeavoured to assist persons affected to the extent open to it. The guidelines on information and tracing services, first issued by the Adoption Board in 2004, included acknowledgement of a practice of illegal birth registrations and offered the board's assistance in efforts to obtain any records that might still be available. I am aware from the Adoption Authority of Ireland that, in mid-2010, the Irish Adoption Board conducted a review of information it retained of contact received from persons who had been told or believed themselves to be adopted, but where no adoption records existed, which is an extremely traumatic situation for anyone to be in. This exercise indicated 99 people who had identified themselves to the board as adopted did not have a corresponding adoption file. Around 45 of these cases related to people born after 1953 and the balance related to persons born before 1953.
I am advised that, at the specific request of the persons making a complaint, the Irish Adoption Board reported a number of such cases to the Garda, the Registrar General and the Director of Public Prosecutions by reference to possible offences under the birth registration Acts. It is my understanding that further action did not ensue having regard to available proof and the lapse of time since the events in question.
I have also made enquiries concerning the Deputy's question about the number of such records held by the Health Service Executive. I have been informed that the HSE has not carried out a review similar to that done by the Irish Adoption Board in 2010. Obviously, the records would be more scattered if the HSE did have them. I have, however, asked the HSE to establish any relevant information in its possession and examine the matter. I am happy to correspond directly with the Deputy on this.
As I indicated in a recent reply to the Deputy, I am looking into what steps may be possible in relation to such cases in the context of ongoing work by my Department with the Attorney General's office on the drafting of legislation with regard to information and tracing. Work is under way on the preparation of the adoption (information and tracing) Bill, in consultation with the Adoption Authority of Ireland, to provide for a structured and regulated way of providing access to information and contact for those affected by adoption, including where the adoption was not effected.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
It is intended that the Bill will provide for the Adoption Authority of Ireland to have access to records currently held by a wide range of information sources, give the authority an oversight role with regard to the maintenance of adoption records, and place the national contact preference register on a statutory basis. The Bill is also to provide for proactive tracing and reunion services by appropriate bodies for adopted adults, birth mothers and birth families, with the Adoption Authority of Ireland having the overarching responsibility for the service.