I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 and 4 together.
Following the publication of the independent review into illegal birth registrations in March 2021, I asked Professor Conor O'Mahony, the special rapporteur on child protection, to consider the significant complexities and challenges which arise in respect of the issue of illegal birth registrations and to provide a report proposing an appropriate course of action. On 14 March 2022, I published the report, which sets out 17 numbered recommendations, one of which is that a State inquiry into illegal adoption should be established. On publication, the Government was able to commit to the implementation of a significant number of the recommendations.
The question of creating an effective non-statutory inquiry is a sensitive, complex and challenging one. The special rapporteur on child protection acknowledged this and, in particular, noted the challenges associated with access to records for a non-statutory inquiry. The Government remains committed to delivering on that comprehensive suite of actions set out in the Government action plan for survivors and former residents of mother and baby and county home institutions. These actions respond to the priority needs and wishes of survivors, their families and advocates. As part of this work, I am advancing an initiative for the recognition and memorialisation of the voices and lived experiences of survivors. This will establish a process for survivors of mother and baby and county home institutions to allow them to come forward voluntarily and share the account of their lived experiences, with a view to having those formally recognised as a part of the official record of the history of these institutions in Ireland.
The Government action plan also contains important measures focused on access to records and the creation of a centralised State repository of records. The Government recognises the potential for a future centralised archive to support future analysis and research on these important matters.
As a consequence of this ongoing work, the Government will need to give further consideration to the specific recommendation on the truth commission. In the coming months, my priority will be to implement the action plan and to deliver the Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022, which will provide full, unredacted access to birth and early life information for people affected by illegal birth registrations, adopted people and anyone with questions as to their origins.
Regarding the specific question concerning the €3,000 once-off payment and whether that will be applicable to other institutions and-or persons, my aim in bringing forward this payment is to respond to the recommendations of the special rapporteur on child protection in the timeliest manner possible. For this reason, I have received Government approval for a once-off payment for those individuals affected by illegal birth registration in the files of St. Patrick's Guild, where confirmation is already held by Tusla and can form the basis for payment to the individuals affected, without any need to bring forward evidence and meet a certain burden of proof. There may be potential to extend the payment to other confirmed cases after the Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022 has provided access to records and, as a result, people with suspicions are able to access the evidence necessary to confirm illegal birth registration and consequently effect a change in the birth register.