Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Questions (320, 321)

Carol Nolan

Question:

320. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the specific stakeholders and lobby groups which she met with and listened to in respect of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 and the associated amendments. [12635/19]

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Carol Nolan

Question:

321. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she met with the stakeholders and lobby groups to listen to their concerns in respect of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 or if it was officials from her Department who met with these groups. [12636/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 320 and 321 together.

As I am sure the Deputy is aware, the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 seeks to respect the rights to identity and privacy, which sometimes conflict with one another. Given the constitutional context, striking the balance between these rights is proving challenging. It should be noted that the Bill operates on the basis of a presumption in favour of disclosing as much information as is legally and constitutionally possible.

I have received submissions from a range of diverse stakeholders and lobby groups regarding the Bill and both myself and my officials have met with many of these groups and individuals both specifically in relation to the Bill and on the sidelines of other fora. In recent months, in the course of deliberations over revisiting the provisions relating to privacy in the Bill, I have considered the views expressed in relevant reports and debates on this matter by advocacy groups and by members of the Oireachtas. I have also considered the many representations made to me by members of the public and by stakeholders generally.

Some of these groups and individuals have expressed concerns about specific aspects of the Bill, and in particular, the requirement for adopted people to sign an undertaking declaring that they would not contact their birth parent and the absence of a provision for the release of birth certificates.

Having listened to these concerns, I engaged again with the Office of the Attorney General seeking to revisit the privacy provisions and strengthen the right to identity. As the Deputy will be aware, I recently secured Government approval to draft amendments to revise these provisions in the Bill.

Once these amendments are finalised, it is my intention to progress to Committee Stage of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 in Seanad Éireann as soon as possible.