On foot of the recent discovery by Tusla of 126 cases of illegal registrations I moved immediately to inform the Cabinet. I also announced that a process has been put in place by Tusla to manage these cases. This is being led by experienced information and tracing social workers.
As an immediate step Tusla put in place a Helpline which is operating from 10am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. Tusla has also put relevant information on its website.
Each of the 126 cases has been assigned to a social worker and work has commenced on tracing the people concerned. These include the person who was illegally registered as a child, the birth mother and the people who participated in the illegal registration and subsequently raised these children as their own.
The majority of the files containing information are more than 50 years old. The implication of this is of course, that the information in the files is over 50 years old. Some of the information was deliberately falsified. People have changed addresses. Some have emigrated. Many are no longer alive.
Each file is being examined. Information is being checked and updated where possible. Some files will be more difficult to update than others but strenuous efforts are being made on every file.
The process of offering contact and support to those affected will be handled very carefully. It will take account of each individual’s requirements. Some people may not wish to have any contact. Others may wish to take their time in engaging. I expect that there are others who may accept contact and support at the earliest opportunity.
Offers of contact and support will begin at the end of the month in cases where there is sufficient information available to establish contact.
My focus in the first instance is the provision of information and support. People have a right to their identity. They have a right to honest answers and we have a duty to provide this if possible.
The question of redress does not arise at this point in the process.