One must feel for those people whose births were incorrectly registered or who were adopted illegally and have learned for the first time that their parents are not their birth parents on foot of the information which emerged yesterday about St. Patrick's Guild. The youngest person affected is 49 years old while the oldest is 72. The issues of incorrect registrations of children and of illegal adoptions are not news or something we learned about only yesterday. Indeed, over the past six to seven years, various legislative proposals have been considered to address this specific issue, and the issues of tracing rights and access to information have come before quite a number of Oireachtas health committees. I welcome the news that a specific review of this matter is to be carried out, which is important. I ask in a more urgent sense, however, what we are doing now for future generations of children whose rights are not being affirmed.
It has been accepted that we need to create a statutory basis to facilitate children who have been adopted to trace information concerning their true identities. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill was published in 2016 and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, introduced it in Seanad Éireann in May 2017. She spoke at length to the Seanad about the issues involved and paid tribute to Senator Bacik and former Senators Jillian van Turnhout and Averil Power as forerunners who advocated the introduction of the legislation. The legislation deals specifically with the issue identified yesterday and would, if enacted, provide adopted persons' birth parents and relatives with a statutory right to an information and tracing service. The Minister told the Seanad:
[T]he State now recognises that there were also children who were incorrectly registered as the children of people other than their birth parents. This could serve to remove any formal record linking a birth parent with his or her birth child. Persons who have discovered that they were incorrectly registered in this way have faced huge and sometimes insurmountable difficulties in obtaining accurate identity information.
The Minister said the provisions of the Bill dealt with this specific issue.
While there have been several drafts and iterations of the legislation, it has essentially stalled at this stage. There has been a commitment to enact legislation for six years, but for some reason a Bill which crucially provides a statutory basis on which people can access this information and their identities, health records and so on, has not emerged. Where is the legislation? Will the Taoiseach explain the lack of urgency in bringing it forward, the drift in progressing it and the reason for the delay?