Skip to main content
Normal View

Special Committee Recognition of Foreign Adoptions Bill, 1990 debate -
Wednesday, 17 Apr 1991


Chairman, with your permission, I will bring the Committee up to date on the discussions that I have had with Deputy Shatter since our last meeting on 20 March. Deputy Shatter and I had two very constructive meetings. We teased out a number of issues. I am very pleased to report that we have reached broad agreement on most of the issues concerned. This is reflected in the fact that a number of substitute amendments being brought forward to the Bill are in our joint names.

I believe, and I am sure Deputy Shatter shares my view, that these additional amendments will further strengthen the Bill to ensure that it provides a progressive and secure legal framework for the recognition of foreign adoptions.

I hope the amendments will be accepted by the Committee in the same constructive and non-political spirit as they were agreed between Deputy Shatter and myself and that the Bill will be allowed to proceed to Report Stage. We are all agreed on the desirability of having this legislation enacted as quickly as possible. I am confident that the co-operation of all Members of the Committee will be forthcoming in this regard.

First, Chairman, I would agree we had very constructive discussions. I would like to thank the Committee for their agreement to go along with our postponing of last week's meeting scheduled for last Thursday to today. The Minister and I met twice. We had informal discussions on other occasions and I had contact with his officials. I would like to thank them for their help and co-operation. We have had an extremely constructive number of weeks over the Easter period to resolve the problems in relation to the Bill. The last day in this Committee the Minister had tabled a series of amendments to the Bill and I had raised a number of problems with those amendments. I believe in the context of the lengthy process that we have gone through — and I would say much to-ing and fro-ing of drafts and redrafts that would resolve the difficulties that I was concerned about — that we can now put in place a very comprehensive piece of legislation which will meet the needs in this area. When it comes to the individual amendments both the Minister and I will have some comment to make.

At the time when Fine Gael published the Bill in December we emphasised that we felt this was a very urgent and necessary piece of legislation. At that time it was our understanding that approximately 150 Romanian children had been adopted into Ireland. Current figures indicate that as of now there are in the region of 400 Romanian children adopted into this country. As each week has passed the number of Irish couples seeking to adopt abroad has increased and there is an urgent necessity to have this legislation passed and put on the Statute Book.

I would hope that as a result of the work we have done we will have enabled this Committee to complete the process very rapidly and allow the Bill to go to Report Stage. I would be hopeful that we could have the Bill enacted through both Houses of the Oireachtas no later than the end of May. I understand from my discussions with the Minister that he would share my view about the urgency now of the legislation. As we go through the amendments we will see there is only one particular matter in respect of which there is a disagreement between myself and the Minister. I would hope, with goodwill on both sides, that that matter will be practically resolved.

I know that the many Irish people who have adopted in Romania and who are back in Ireland are very anxious that the Bill be enacted and that the children can be recognised as their adopted children and as Irish citizens. I hope they welcome the work we have done.

I would hope that people who contemplate adopting abroad now will use the new procedures that will be provided to allow them have family assessments carried out through both health boards and adoption societies, which will enable the adoption board to make declarations that people are suitable and eligible to adopt and to facilitate the recognition of future adoptions by people resident in Ireland when the adoptions take place abroad.

I would like to record my appreciation to the Minister, his officials and Deputy Shatter for the work they have done over the last number of weeks since we were here on 20 March. It is not my intention, on behalf of The Workers' Party, to promote any amendments to the formula that has now been worked out by careful negotiation between the two sides on the Bill. I am happy that we have achieved a consensus on a formula that will work and be of great assistance to everyone. I am sure we can move on to the amendments quickly and have this legislation on the Statute Book without any undue delay.

I wish to record my appreciation of the work that has been carred out between the Minister and Deputy Shatter. I would like to thank Deputy Shatter for the consultation he had with me in his amendments and why he wanted them, and his appreciation of the Minister's co-operation as well. The sooner we get down to the actual amendments and approve them and go back into Report Stage the better. The demand from the public is to have this legislation on the Statute Book as quickly as possible. We owe the people that. I am delighted that a measure of agreement on this has been reached between the Minister and Deputy Shatter.

Deputies, while all is sweetness and light, an tAire proceed.