The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 has passed Second Stage in the Seanad. As I am sure the Deputy is aware, the Bill seeks to respect the rights to identity and privacy, which sometimes conflict with one another.
Given the constitutional context, striking the balance between these rights is proving challenging. It is important legislation for many people. Previous attempts to introduce a Bill, dating back as far as 2001, failed.
I am conscious of Deputies' interest in this important issue and of our shared desire to move matters forward. It is essential that the Bill progresses as quickly as possible, particularly as it will place the information and tracing service on a statutory footing for the first time.
It will also protect relevant records by bringing them into the custody of the AAI. It will create offences for the concealment, destruction, mutilation or falsification of such records.
The Bill impacts on people who are the subject of illegal registrations, as well as adopted people. Officials are currently reviewing its provisions, in the light of the recent evidence emerging on illegal birth registrations, to ensure that it is robust in addressing this issue. If additional amendments to the Bill are required to ensure this, that can be addressed as the Bill goes through the Houses.
My intention is that the Bill will be enacted by the end of the year. Earlier this week, I met advocacy groups. That was an informative and helpful engagement. As the Deputy will be aware, I am meeting my Oireachtas colleagues today for a briefing session with a view to progressing the Bill to Committee Stage in the Seanad as soon as possible.
I look forward to working with Members of this House and of the Seanad in order that all of us who wish to see this Bill implemented as soon as possible can work together to achieve that goal.