I thank the Deputy for bringing this sensitive issue to my attention some weeks ago. As Members will be aware, I previously announced that I intended to look at the issue of the fee charged for a certificate of stillbirth registration. I am very pleased to inform the House that I have dealt with this matter quickly and that the fee for the certificate of a registration of stillbirth is being abolished. Earlier this week I signed a statutory instrument, as provided for under section 67 of the Civil Registration Act 2004, to provide that there will be no fee charged to parents for a certificate for their stillborn child. This will come into effect next week. As the Health Service Executive has responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Civil Registration Service, I sought the view of my colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, prior to signing the new regulation. I am happy to say he is in full agreement with me on this matter.
The registration of stillbirths is not mandatory. The register was established in 1995 under the Stillbirths Registration Act 1994 to afford parents the option of recording a stillbirth. The intention of this provision is to provide comfort for the bereaved parents. In many ways, the fact that there was a fee had a contrary effect as identified by the Deputy. It is my hope the facility to register a stillbirth will continue to provide some solace for parents at what is, undoubtedly, a very sad and difficult time by allowing them to register that their children were born and were persons.