While there have been suspicions about the practice of incorrect registrations for many years, it has been extremely difficult to uncover clear evidence of the practice because of the deliberate failure by those involved to keep records.
On the 29th May 2018 I announced that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency had identified 126 cases where births were incorrectly registered between 1946 and 1969. The cases were identified during an analysis of adoption records that were transferred to Tusla by the former adoption society St Patrick’s Guild.
This is a very serious and sensitive issue. People have the right to know of their true origins and, where we have clear evidence, I believe we have an obligation to tell the people affected. Some may know already, but for others it will be entirely new and very difficult information indeed.
An experienced Information and Tracing social worker has been assigned to each of the 126 cases. They will be leading the process of making contact with those affected that can be identified. This includes the person who was incorrectly registered (the child), the birth mother and the people who participated in the incorrect registrations and subsequently raised these children as their own.
I would emphasise that the process will be measured, sensitive, and at the pace of the individual concerned. People should also be aware that it is a detailed, methodical process, and will take some time.
The assigned social worker will support individuals through the process and link them in to formal and informal supports and services, as required.
The Deputy will understand that as Minister I do not get, and nor should I, personal details of the individuals concerned. If the individual to whom the Deputy is referring to is one of the 126, Tusla will be touch with her, but this process may take a little time, as tracing is being done on the basis of records that are in the main over 50 years old. She can also, through the Tusla Helpline, apply for an information and tracing service, even if she is not one of the 126.
In relation to other issues of concern listed by the Deputy, I am aware that an incorrect birth registration can impact on a number of areas of a person's life. I will keep these issues under review, as they emerge, and will address in conjunction with my ministerial colleagues, as appropriate.