I expect to receive the final report of the independent reviewer, Ms Marion Reynolds, this week, as it is the end of May. I had previously expected that this report would be submitted to me by Easter. In her third report, which I published, Ms Reynolds informed me that this would now be delayed until the end of May.
I understand the reason for the delay was that the fieldwork carried out by both Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland was complex, forensic and resource intensive, and took longer than anticipated. This fieldwork has now reached a conclusion. In addition, there were considerable challenges in respect of data protection that had to be overcome, which also delayed the process at one point. I am pleased to say that these issues have been resolved.
The two previous interim reports from the reviewer have also been published on my Department's website.
The purpose of this review, which I initiated following the discovery of cases of illegal registrations in the St. Patrick's Guild records, is to determine if similar evidence of illegal birth registrations can be identified from the records of other former adoption agencies and other relevant bodies. The final report and its findings will provide information to assist me in identifying the necessary next steps. I am extremely conscious of the impact that news of an illegal registration can have on those affected. This is particularly true in circumstances where those impacted had no indication of any irregularities. It seems to me that this must be one of the most difficult and traumatic episodes that anyone would have to deal with in a lifetime. I will study the independent reviewer's report closely as soon as I receive it, and will reflect carefully on what to do next to assist all involved.