There is currently no legal basis for the State to gain access to records held by private bodies or individuals. It is estimated that there are approximately 50,000 records held privately. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill, 2016 will provide the necessary statutory basis for these relevant records to be transferred to the State for safekeeping by the Adoption Authority of Ireland. These records will then be available for information and tracing purposes and if deemed necessary, for any future sampling or audit projects.
The purpose of the current scoping exercise is to ascertain whether any similar evidence of illegal birth registrations on the St Patrick’s Guild files is evident on files of other agencies and bodies involved in adoption. I am expecting the report to be submitted to me by the end of this month, and will then decide on any necessary next steps.