In view of what has been found in a subset of the St Patrick’s Guild records, those index cards marked ‘Adoption from Birth’, we need to know whether there may be similar evidence of incorrect registrations in the records of other adoption societies.
I have asked an Independent Reviewer to oversee a targeted sampling process of relevant records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority in the first instance to see if we can establish clear evidence of incorrect registrations. Marion Reynolds is a former Deputy Director of Social Services in Northern Ireland. I am asking her to report to me within four months of the work commencing.
There are some 150,000 records at issue, of which 100,000 are currently in the custody of Tusla and the Adoption Authority. We need a well-planned sampling process first of the Tusla and AAI records to see if a major trawl of these is likely to give us hard evidence of incorrect registrations. Hard evidence is necessary before individuals can be informed.
In relation to the remaining estimated 50,000 records that are not in the custody of either Tusla or the Adoption Authority, the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 provides for the transfer of these records to the custody of the Adoption Authority. The Bill also creates offences in relation to the concealment, destruction, mutilation and falsification of these records. I agree with the Deputy that the protection and collation of these records is of the utmost importance but the mechanism to achieve this is the enactment of the Bill. It is my intention to proceed as quickly as possible with the enactment of the information and tracing legislation.