Care Orders

Ceisteanna (19)

Anne Rabbitte


19. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she has taken to address the fact that many children in foster care are placed under a voluntary care order; and the issues arising from same. [25898/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Children)

What steps has the Minister taken to address the fact that many children in foster care are placed under a voluntary care order and the issues arising from same?

When Tusla takes a child into care, it may do so either by way of a court order under the Child Care Act 1991 or by way of a voluntary care arrangement whereby there is consent from the child's parent or guardian. Every case is unique. There will be some cases where voluntary care is the most appropriate response and others where it will be necessary to have a more formal arrangement using a court order under the Child Care Act 1991.

Voluntary care is an important option open to Tusla and may be used to help struggling parents and protect vulnerable children. Voluntary care is also utilised where parents require some form of short-term respite, or where a parent may be ill or seeking treatment for a particular condition. Its application in these circumstances is particularly useful. Approximately one third of children in care at any one time are cared for under a voluntary arrangement.

It is important to emphasise that voluntary care is based on parental consent. The child's parent or guardian is entitled to have an input into the care that their child receives and they have the power to withdraw their consent if they are not satisfied with the care their child is receiving. Importantly, it also makes it easier for struggling parents to entrust the care of their children to Tusla when they need help. Voluntary care can facilitate a co-operative relationship between parents, Tusla and caregivers, and this can be positive for the child and his or her family.

Tusla introduced new practice guidance last year on the use of voluntary consent for admission to care. This provides social workers with clear definitions of voluntary consent and the process for determining capacity to give consent. Timely and understandable informed consent sets the stage for social work services and assists with providing all involved with an understanding of the process and associated realistic expectations. The guidance also stresses that consent to a voluntary arrangement should only be sought if it is fair and proportionate in all circumstances, which is important.

As of January 2018, 32% of all children in care were placed under a voluntary care order. That equates to 2,026 children. As the Minister explained, the parents agreed to have their children taken into care for various reasons. In these cases, Tusla must consider the parents' wishes on aspects of how the care is provided. The reason I tabled this question is that some of the caregivers have a number of issues where voluntary care orders are used.

Such issues include getting birthday cakes for the children in their care or having the children's hair cut. Caregivers feel that they have little engagement in the decision-making process. Empowering People in Care, EPIC, has made a number of representations, including to the Minister, regarding voluntary care orders. It believes that little or no progress is being made. What steps is the Minister taking to address the types of simple, minor issue that I have mentioned? Is the Department taking steps to ensure appropriate court orders are sought for children in care?

The agreement on voluntary care is made between parents, Tusla and caregivers and can be positive for the child and the family. There is a new practice guidance to assist with the issues the Deputy identified. Voluntary care provides that the best interests of the child should be the determining factor. Voluntary consent should not be used indefinitely if that is not in the child's best interests. It should only be sought if it is clear that reunification with the child's parents or guardians is possible.

Under Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, we made a commitment to review and reform the Child Care Act 1991. My Department has initiated that work and engaged with Tusla and other State agencies. The work will address a broader and higher level than some of the issues the Deputy raised, but I am aware that, in a family or home situation, questions on whether parental consent is needed for such matters can sometimes arise. I hope the new practice guidance will assist in that regard.

The guidance would be welcome. It is regrettable that 45% of children in care have been the subject of voluntary care orders that have lasted for longer than five years. The Minister mentioned that orders were meant to be temporary, but no one can say that "temporary" means "five years". We need to discuss the negative impact of placing children under voluntary care orders for longer than 12 months.

Everyone will agree that reunification should always be the goal, but there must be a measurable goal. This is not just about the children's best interests; we must also consider the caregivers. There must be a clear pathway in order that caregivers and Tusla can know where they are going. The fact that 45% of children in care have been under voluntary care orders for longer than five years means they are not successful.

I appreciate the issues the Deputy raised, particularly about the length of time and the number of children in care. She stated that they have not been successful. While I appreciate the sentiment she is expressing, circumstances change and family units are different. We do not necessarily know when a child will require support in the form of a voluntary care order, under which parents give their consent and work with carers.

From what I can tell, the issues the Deputy is raising are coming from the carers, in particular. Under voluntary care orders, they require support in terms of training, contact with Tusla, etc. I appreciate those issues. In the reforms that it is in initiating, Tusla will meet those concerns.

Adoption Registration

Ceisteanna (20)

Denise Mitchell


20. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the progress made by Tusla in contacting those who are known to have been affected by an adoption scandal (details supplied); and the scope of the targeted sampling exercise announced by her. [25738/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Children)

This relates to St. Patrick's Guild. Will the Minister make a statement on the matter?

On 29 May, I announced that Tusla had identified 126 cases where births were illegally registered between 1946 and 1969. The cases were identified during an analysis of adoption records that were transferred to Tusla by the former adoption society, St. Patrick's Guild. As the information that an incorrect birth registration has taken place is life-changing, the State has a responsibility to reach a high level of certainty that this has happened before it contacts the individuals concerned. This threshold has been reached in the case of the 126 St. Patrick's Guild files.

We are all aware of the seriousness and sensitivity of this issue. People have the right to their identities. They have the right to know of their true origins and, where we have clear evidence, we have an obligation to tell those affected. Some may know, but for others, it will be entirely new and difficult information to receive and absorb.

There will be a social worker-led process of making contact with those affected who can be identified. This includes the birth mother, the person who was incorrectly registered - the child - and the people who participated in the incorrect registrations and subsequently raised these children as their own. Each of the 126 cases has been assigned to an experienced Tusla information and tracing social worker and work has commenced on tracing the individuals concerned. I emphasise that the process will be measured, sensitive and carried out at the pace of the individual affected. There will be no sudden phone calls or unannounced visits to people's doors. The process of offering contact and supporting those affected will be handled carefully and take account of the requirements of the individuals.

I am confident that Tusla is prioritising these cases and committing the necessary resources. However, I reiterate that the only information available at the commencement of the process was contained in records that were in most cases more than 50 years old. The process of tracing people will take some time, but it is expected that Tusla will be in a position to start making contact with individuals at the end of this month.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The sampling process will address the Tusla and Adoption Authority records to see if a major trawl of these is likely to yield hard evidence of incorrect registrations. Tusla found evidence in the St. Patrick's Guild records primarily because of the term "adopted from birth" that was placed on index cards. If this marker had not been present, it would have been difficult to identify even the 126 cases. We do not know if such a clear marker, or indeed any marker, will be found in other files.

It is my view that we must first judge the likely incidence of cases that can actually be identified, through the initial analysis, and the scale of them. I will then be in a position to judge the next steps that may be required.

I thank the Minister for her response. People were not shocked by the scandal. For many years, survivors have spoken about illegal adoption practices and many journalists have exposed those practices. To have proof finally is welcome, but we have read that, in addition to the 126 affected adoptions that it has reported, Tusla has raised concerns about a further 748 cases in St. Patrick's Guild alone where there were no adoption orders, changes had been made to names and cash payments were made to the guild.

While I understand that an additional sampling exercise is under way, I have concerns about it. It is only an initial exercise, but we would not accept a sampling exercise in respect of any other organisation accused of what I believe was child trafficking. Will the Minister confirm that Tusla will hold a full and thorough investigation into St. Patrick's Guild?

The Deputy referred to a larger number of cases. I understand that it was from this number that, following Tusla's deeper analysis and cross-checking with the Adoption Authority and General Register Office, GRO, with a view to ensuring a high threshold of evidence of illegality was reached, the 126 cases emerged.

Regarding a further analysis, I have asked the independent reviewer to oversee a targeted sampling process of relevant records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland, AAI, in the first instance to see if clear evidence can be established. I have appointed Ms Marion Reynolds to oversee this work. Ms Reynolds met Tusla, the AAI and officials from my Department yesterday to initiate the process. There are 150,000 records at issue, of which 100,000 are currently in the custody of Tusla and the AAI. That is where this work will start.

The Adoption Rights Alliance has stated that this is only the tip of the iceberg. How many people are affected? Are the records of other organisations or societies being investigated? Is Tusla committed to obtaining all of these records?

There is great concern that these files will go missing or be destroyed. Will the Minister commit to an investigation that will cover all agencies, individuals and homes involved in adoption in this State and also the estimated 2,000 children who were sent to the United States and supposedly illegally adopted there?

I am very open to a wider investigation into the issue of illegal registrations. There is no question about that. At the same time, I am also saying that it is critical to take this one step at a time. After it had identified the "adopted from birth" signifier on the index cards, it took Tusla a number of months to ensure, through the cross-registration process, that we had evidence of illegal registration. However, that is in regard to the records that are held, particularly those which fall within the jurisdiction of the State. As the Deputy has identified, there are other records outside of that and we need to get those into the possession of the State in order to move forward with further analysis. I am aware of that and those are issues at which we are now looking. We have an openness to moving forward in that regard. However, we must proceed one step at a time in order to do this right.

Internet Safety

Ceisteanna (21)

Anne Rabbitte


21. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she has taken to enact the recommendations of the Internet content governance advisory group, ICGAG; the additional steps that will be taken to ensure the safety of children online; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25899/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (7 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Children)

The ICGAG was established in 2013 by the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The purpose was to assess existing provisions for safer and better Internet strategies. The report of the group included a number of recommendations which have application across various Departments. The Deputy will appreciate that I do not have lead ministerial policy responsibility for Internet safety. In the circumstances, I do not propose to comment on the individual recommendations in the report. However, I have significant responsibilities, as part of the cross-Government approach, in respect of ensuring that the Internet is a safer place for children.

In this regard, the Children First Act 2015 places statutory obligations on organisations providing relevant services to children, including the preparation of a child safeguarding statement. My Department will be amending the Children First guidelines to include a specific reference to online safety in the preparation of the statement before the end of the second quarter of 2019. It is also important to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard and acted upon when we make decisions on Internet safety. In this context, my Department undertakes and supports a wide range of consultation and participation processes with children and young people through Dáil na nÓg and Comhairle na nÓg. My Department also provides funding to three national youth organisations which provide online safety resources for the youth sector. They are: the National Youth Council of Ireland;, Ireland's youth information website; and Youth Work Ireland.

Parents have a crucial role in ensuring that children are safe online. Providing information and services to parents is part of the role of my Department, particularly through the Child and Family Agency and community and voluntary sector organisations. This will be a key focus for the Department in the coming years. I will be outlining steps in that regard in the early years strategy.

In terms of Government action, the Department of the Taoiseach is currently developing an action plan on online safety. This will take into account the recent report of the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, which we will discuss later, as well as the concerns highlighted in the report we are currently discussing. I am fully committed to playing my part in a co-ordinated cross-Government approach to dealing with the issue.

Has the Minister made specific recommendations in respect of this plan? Does she envisage implementing any of the key recommendations that it will contain? I am acutely aware that numerous Departments other than hers are involved in the protection of children online. However, I request that she, as an Independent Minister in Cabinet, use her voice in the context of the proposed digital safety commissioner. The appointment of a digital safety commissioner is long overdue. It is five years since the report was produced and a great deal has changed in that period. Despite the work of the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, the good work that has been done regarding cybersecurity and the advent of the general data protection regulation, GDPR, I am not sure whether parents are aware that the digital age of consent has increased to 16. In that context, there are children as young as eight on Snapchat. Is the Department going to roll out any measures to ensure parents are aware that the age of consent is now 16 or has it considered that?

The Deputy raises a couple of issues in the context of my Ministry and my Department and also regarding my role as an Independent Minister. Given that we discussed these issues at the committee, she knows I am open to the idea of appointing a digital safety commissioner. If that is what we ultimately decide is the best way to move forward, then let us do it.

In terms of the action plan that has been compiled and is being readied for publication in the Department of the Taoiseach, there are some actions in it that it has been decided to implement initially to see if they prove sufficient in terms of the way in which we are currently operating but also to bring matters one step further. If some of those actions do not work, I know there would be an openness to moving forward. For example, it may be the case that, in the context of the action plan, we could establish a new national advisory council on online safety in order to provide a forum for expert stakeholder input and advice for Government and to create a single online access point on as the authoritative source on information and online safety. As the Deputy points out in the context of my role, I have identified a number of ways in which the Department is supporting that work with parents and children.

My difficulty is that a largely self-regulated industry is in control at this time. The Government is not in control; it is the providers, such as Snapchat and Facebook, which are in control. Regrettably, when hateful speech is put up or when bullying is taking place online, there is no way to deal with it and it has to go through a process whereby the industry judges whether the relevant material should be taken down. Due to the fact that we do not have a regulator in place to ensure that the entire industry is working to the same rules and regulations, we are letting down our young people at this time.

The appointment of a digital safety commissioner is long overdue. The Minister plays a huge role in her independent capacity within Cabinet. She is in an influential position to influence the Taoiseach, who has been found wanting in this regard. I know that the respective Ministers, Deputies Zappone and Naughten, are committed to this. I plead with the Minister, Deputy Zappone, for the sake of the children of the country, to push Government forward to regulate this sphere.

Does the Deputy think the establishment of a digital safety commission would act as a magic wand?

No, I certainly do not.

Exactly. Who knows? Perhaps that is what we need. As stated, I am open to that and I am persuaded by some of the arguments the Deputy is putting forward. At the same time, although the Deputy does not have sight of it, there is an action plan that is coming out shortly in regard to a number of other measures that are going to be put in place in light of what is already going on. Are we completely, utterly and wildly out of control in the context of what is going on with children online? I do not think so. That said, there are still many issues parents and children are worried about and about which the Deputy and I, as public representatives, are concerned. This is a very big challenge; of that there is no question. However, an increasing number of actions will be implemented in order to try to bring this under control, apart from what we are already doing.

Birth Certificates

Ceisteanna (22)

Paul Murphy


22. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her Department has assessed the impact on the rights and welfare of children of same-sex parents who are not able to accurately record their parents' details on birth certificates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25897/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Children)

I attended a meeting on Sunday of 55 LGBTQ parents and 20 of their children. They are affected by an issue which a majority of people in society are not aware of - and probably a majority in the LGBTQ community are not even aware of - whereby, despite three years having passed since the passing of the Children and Family Relationships Act and the advent of marriage equality, children of same-sex married couples are still unable to have both their parents registered on their birth certificates.

I understand that the commencement of the relevant sections is not the Minister's responsibility and I appreciate her taking the question, which is on the impact this is having on the rights of these children. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of children who are currently affected and as time passes, more and more will be affected and more and more serious issues will be posed.

The ground breaking Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 reforms and updates family law to address the needs of children living in diverse family types. My colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, has responsibility for Parts 2 and 3 of the Act, which make provision for children conceived through the assistance of a donor and provide legal clarity on parental rights and responsibilities. While I understand that officials in the Department of Health have prepared draft regulations to facilitate the commencement of Parts 2 and 3 of the Act, they have identified in the course of that work a small number of technical drafting issues in the legislation. These issues are currently being explored by officials in the Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General. If it transpires that amendment is required through primary legislation, the Minister for Health has undertaken to facilitate same as a matter of urgency in order to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas the regulations necessary to commence Parts 2 and 3 as soon as possible thereafter. At the same time, the Department of Health is preparing guidance documentation to accompany the regulations when commenced. I understand that the Minister for Health will imminently make an announcement on his plans to resolve the issues which have arisen with the commencement of the Act. As such, I am confident that the outstanding issues relating to these important Parts of the Child and Family Relationships Act will be resolved.

I say to the Minister and, if he is listening, to the Minister for Health that this is an urgent matter and we would like an imminent announcement on it. It is having an impact on people's lives now. Couples are getting pregnant without realising that this is going to be a problem. It is something they realise only during the course of their pregnancies or, in the case of some people to whom I have spoken, only when they have turned up to register the birth of a child. All of sudden, they realise that the form has a space for "mother" and a space for "father" and that one cannot simply cross out "father" and have two mothers. I was contacted by Leanne when she and her partner, Nile, to whom she is married, needed to get a passport for their baby. Eventually, they had no choice but to put just one of the parents' names on the birth certificate. They were not able to register both as parents. That has an ongoing impact and as time goes on, it will present real difficulties. Leanne sent me the following:

Nile and I created our baby together. We went through the process that every couple do with the intent of creating a human. I willingly signed up to love and care for someone for the rest of my life. Is this not what makes a family?

This month we celebrate gay pride. The theme is "We Are Family". How much of a slap in the face is this to all same sex parents out there? Instead of celebrating our first pride as a family, we'll be marching and protesting for our rights. Again.

I hope all my friends and family will join us. I know you all voted for equality 3 years ago and I'm sorry to have to ask you to fight with us once again.

I thank the Deputy again for raising these exceedingly important issues, which are particularly important and significant for me also. I was fully aware of and delighted to hear that the Deputy was at the meeting on Sunday. I spoke to the director of LGBT Ireland on Sunday night to hear how the meeting had gone. I am deeply conscious of the experiences of parents like the couple the Deputy identifies and of the urgency of the matter. Many of these people are my friends and I am concerned as much about those who have been couples with children for years as I am about those who are about to have children. I spoke to a couple only last evening who said to me that their children, who are younger kids, believe they are a family because of the passing of the marriage equality referendum. That is what they know and that is what they understand. The concerns lay in particular with the parents. Those are the concerns I am aware of and I acknowledge the urgency of the regulations, which need to happen soon.

Has any analysis been done on the impact of this on the rights of children? As time passes, parents may separate or the tragic death of one may take place. What would be the impact of that on a child in this situation who has only one of his or her parents registered officially before this situation is resolved?

I welcome the Minister's agreement that this is urgent. I understand that LGBT Inclusion has written to the Minister for Health seeking a meeting to get an update. In response to an answer which offered a briefing from the Department, I have sought to have that take place to get the latest information. Unfortunately, many people out there have been asking questions and been told over a long period that commencement was about to start, although some issues were identified. The Minister will therefore forgive a certain scepticism or wariness until we see what the plan is. While I accept there are real technical difficulties, it is vital that the Government takes whatever steps are necessary to put this in place given the passage of three years since elected representatives in the House passed the Act following the endorsement by the people of marriage equality. If possible, that should be done before the summer recess.

I thank the Deputy again. This is a critical issue and I appreciate greatly the Deputy raising it. The Deputy's question about research on the impact on young people reminded me of the first piece of research I had on children expressing what it meant for them to be children of LGBT families but not recognised as such. This was prior to the marriage equality referendum and it was called "The Voices of Children - Report on Initial Research with Children of LGBT Parents", published in 2010 by Marriage Equality, an organisation I helped to found. It is a terrific document still and it describes how children felt about not being acknowledged and recognised as families. Having said that, and having consulted with the people to whom the Deputy is also speaking, including those who have written to me and a number of my friends, it may be useful to do some additional research on children's perspectives as the children of LGBT parents and on the impact it has on them. There may be possibilities to do that under the national LGBT strategy, which I am about to launch during the week of Pride.

I appreciate the urgency of this matter and I thank the Deputy again for raising it. It is why I am trying to describe the fact that an announcement will take place soon and that the Department is already preparing regulations to put in place once the legislative issues have been sorted.

Illegal Adoptions

Ceisteanna (23)

Clare Daly


23. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to widen the scope of the investigation into illegal birth registrations beyond the initial sampling exercise to include all of those homes and private agencies involved in organising adoptions in the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25106/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (6 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Children)

My question is on widening the scope of the investigation into illegal birth registrations beyond the initial sampling exercise to include more broadly the homes and private agencies that were involved. I note that the Minister told Deputy Mitchell that she was open to this, but the key point is that this is an ageing community and there must be urgency in carrying out the exercise. It must be extended to include all, not just a sample.

As I indicated earlier, I have asked an independent reviewer to oversee a further analysis of relevant records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority in the first instance. The purpose of the exercise is to see if clear evidence of illegal registrations is evident in other records. The first meeting to commence this process took place yesterday and I expect the analysis to be completed four months from when it is initiated. In that regard, I understand that methodological matters are currently being finalised. Given the volume of records involved, we must first judge the likely incidence of cases that can actually be identified through this analysis. I will then be in a position to judge the next steps. Records which are not in the custody of either Tusla or the Adoption Authority cannot be included in the analysis at this stage as the State does not have possession of them. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 is the statutory mechanism necessary to bring these records, estimated at about 50,000, into the custody of the Adoption Authority. I am meeting colleagues from both Houses this afternoon to explore how we can progress this legislation as quickly as possible.

The extent to which children were simply placed with couples and their births registered as if they had been born to them is but one of the major issues that we need to examine. The work of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes will be important in dealing with a range of other adoption-related matters. The commission is examining adoption practices in the cases of mothers and children who were resident in the institutions within its terms of reference. The commission is also required to examine the interaction of mother and baby homes with other institutions, organisations and individuals who had involvement with children from these institutions.

For example, it is examining the practices and policies within adoption societies involved in the placement of children from these institutions. This will provide important insight into any irregularities or illegalities. I want to get to the truth. The further analysis, which has commenced, together with the ongoing work of the commission, will be important for our initial steps. I reiterate that I am open to furthering those steps.

The difficulty is that, sadly, there is nothing new in the recent revelations. The incidence of the criminal, illegal registration of births has been known by society for a long time. One of the points that must emerge from an extension beyond a scoping exercise is the huge numbers of people involved. This is not speculation; the evidence is known.

Conall Ó Fátharta wrote in yesterday's edition of the Irish Examiner about the 748 cases on top of the 126 cases and the knowledge that existed in adoption agencies. The AAI gave information to the health committee in 2014 that said there were thousands of illegal adoptions at that stage. It cannot be a lottery for the people at the centre of this whereby one of their samples might get picked and they get an answer. There may be people who do not even know that they require an answer. We need to be extensive in the research because much larger numbers of people are affected by this. These cases have gone long beyond the records of St. Patrick's Guild and the other institutions. It has been known for some time that we needed to secure those records. The key issues are to stress to the Minister the urgency of the situation and the need to extend the scope.

I acknowledge the Deputy as a champion of this issue, and all the work she has done with advocates, which has brought us to this point. I met a number of the advocates recently and one of the key messages coming from them is the sense of urgency that is required.

When considering where we go from here, particularly with regard to the records we have as well as those we do not, the right way to begin is a targeted approach with the 100,000 records I mentioned. One of the reasons for this, apart from the fact that trawling through 100,000 records will be a significant and labour-intensive job, is that from a research perspective we should take this one step at a time to see if the methodology being developed will work to help us uncover evidence of the illegal registrations. Perhaps it might not do this and as time passes there will not be the huge numbers the Deputy has indicated. I do not necessarily disagree with the Deputy but there may be other ways to try to get at the truth apart from the methodology currently being developed.

We will discuss the scoping exercise this afternoon and I am sure every Member's input will stress the urgency. In the interim, however, there are older and vulnerable people who, in some instances, do not have months or years to wait for that process. In this context the expertise of a person such as Sharon Lawless, who produced "Adoption Stories" for TV3, is important. People like her, with few resources but with an open heart and a will to find answers through DNA testing and so on, have been able to give people answers when they were told there was no information to be had in other quarters. We need to tap into resources such as DNA. Mandatory counselling should be provided to support people in this process and a method to reach out to affected people and those who will be affected must be put in place early on in the process. We should not wait for that. It requires not just urgency; it requires a beefing up of resources in those areas as well as in record searching and in extending the scope. It is incumbent on all of us to get behind this to make sure the resources are delivered for that.

I would be open to all those suggestions and I thank the Deputy for them. We need to consider all of those aspects in the context of the research and the identification of the evidence, as she said. I agree that we may need to go about these in other ways, especially from the stakeholders' perspective. It may be the case that little information emerges following the initial four months of using the methodology, and we may need to consider a different approach to reviewing the files. If that is the case, engagement with stakeholders could be critical. At the meeting I held with stakeholders - and the Deputy will be aware of this because she has also spoken with them - a number of related issues and concerns were raised such as falsified addresses and dates of birth by birth mothers, the importance of baptismal records, the use of obviously false addresses on records and the potential to identify trends. To follow up on information such as this and to seek information from these people and organisations, who are familiar with the system and are experts in the field, may be a more appropriate way to go about this research. Subsequent to my announcement, I was contacted by a number of people who suspect they were illegally registered. We must also take on board those contacts and those questions as part of our research moving forward.