I move amendment No. 18:
In page 22, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:
“Insertion of new section 89A into Principal Act
36. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following:
“Adoption Information and Tracing Scheme
89A.(1) The Minister shall make a scheme (to be known as the Adoption Information and Tracing Scheme and in this section referred to as the ‘Scheme’) providing procedures for—
(a) the custody and preservation of adoption records,
(b) the creation of a Registry of Adoption Records,
(c) access to the Registry of Adoption Records by persons to whom the records relate, and
(d) the provision of an information and tracing service to facilitate information sharing and contact between adopted persons and their birth parents, and other persons.
(2) The Scheme may prescribe different rules and procedures, concerning information sharing and contact, in relation to—
(a) information provided to adopted persons where the adoption order was made before or after the commencement of this section,
(b) information provided to birth parents or adoptive parents in respect of adopted persons over or under 18 years of age, and
(c) information provided to relatives or to other persons.
(3) The Scheme shall respect the privacy of a person to whom an obligation of confidentiality, whether under an enactment or otherwise, is owed and shall require that information capable of leading to the identification of any such person is not disclosed without the consent of the person to whom it relates.
(4) The Scheme shall include provision and procedures relating to—
(a) informal adoptions,
(b) cases where false information was registered in relation to a birth, and
(c) intercountry adoptions.
(5) The Scheme may provide for offences relating to—
(a) the falsification, alteration or destruction of adoption records,
(b) false statements made for the purpose of obtaining adoption records, or in connection with the making of any application under the Scheme,
(c) the misuse of the adoption records of other persons, and
(d) the obstruction or impeding of the performance of functions, or the failure to comply with requirements lawfully imposed, under the Scheme,
may provide that a person who is guilty of any such offence is liable on summary conviction to a Class A fine, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both.
(6) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this section, the Scheme may include such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the Scheme.
(7) A Scheme made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the Scheme is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the Scheme is laid before it, the Scheme shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.”.”.
I propose this amendment not out of distrust of the Minister. She has told us repeatedly that another Bill, on information and tracing, is due to be published quite soon. I tabled the amendment to continue to apply pressure and to ensure the legislation is published, as promised. The purpose of the amendment is to provide an enabling clause to allow the Minister to develop an information and tracing scheme. It is not detailed in the way primary legislation would be detailed. It is primarily designed to ensure that we continue to make the case for something that has long been called for by adopted persons. I refer in particular to their wish and, I believe, their right to have access to their birth certificates and other information with regard to their birth circumstances and family.
In proposing the amendment, I recognise that the Minister is likely to tell me she will publish the information and tracing Bill soon. If so, I welcome it. In discussing the previous amendment, we had already begun to talk about what is likely to be in the proposed legislation.
I stress the importance of consultation with adopted persons with regard to the information and tracing Bill because they have been lobbying for it for a very long time. From their experience, they know what they feel should be in the legislation. Their experience should be taken into account in the drafting of the legislation.