I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 252 together.
The review carried out by the Adoption Authority of Ireland that the Deputy refers to related to applications it received to the National Adoption Contact Preference Register, and other cases which it had been notified of. In these cases the only exercise the Adoption Authority could carry out was to ascertain if an adoption record existed and to carry out a cross referencing exercise with the GRO. Based on this process there was a suspicion of illegal birth registrations, but it was not possible for the Adoption Authority of Ireland to carry out the same rigorous process as Tusla to be as sure as possible that these individuals' births were in fact illegally registered.
I understand that a detailed review of these suspected cases is still ongoing and there are some data protection concerns which are being addressed in this regard. Part of the exercise will be to cross reference the cases against the already confirmed cases.
However there is no guarantee that in these cases any records exist and if they do, that the required level of evidence exists that will allow a definitive conclusion that an illegal registration has taken place.
To clarify, it was only when the records of the former Adoption Society St. Patrick’s Guild (SPG) were transferred to Tusla that it identified evidence of the practice of illegal birth registrations on index cards created and maintained by SPG. If the marker ‘adopted from birth’ had not been present on the index cards it would have been extremely difficult to identify even the cases that have been found so far.
When Tusla confirmed to the Department that it had identified 126 cases where births were illegally registered from the SPG records, it had been in a position to complete a rigorous process using these records to be as sure as possible that these individuals' births were in fact illegally registered.
Given the potentially life changing implications of notifying people that they have been the subject of an illegal birth registration, the State must have a high level of certainty that an illegal registration has in fact occurred, before informing them. This threshold was reached in the case of the 126 SPG files.