Yes, I have received two interim reports from the Independent Reviewer, which I have reviewed and which have been published on the Department's website. These reports set out an overview of the methodological approach being taken.
As the Deputy will be aware, I initiated this targeted review of adoption records following the discovery of cases of illegal registration in the Saint Patrick's Guild records. The purpose of this review is to determine if similar evidence of illegal registration can be identified from the records of other former adoption agencies and other relevant bodies.
This review process is being carried by the Adoption Authority and Tusla and is being overseen by an Independent Reviewer, Marion Reynolds, who is a former Deputy Director of Social Services in Northern Ireland.
The Review covers the period 1953, when legislation commenced to regulate adoption, and 1996, when all parts of the Child Care Act 1991 were commenced. The review group have indicated in the interim reports that their intention is to sample approximately 1.5% of the relevant records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority. The selected sample will be weighted with 85% covering the period 1953 to 1976. A sample of 15% will be selected covering the period 1977 to 1996 as a means of checking whether illegal registration of births was a continuing practice. A senior Departmental statistician was made available to the Group to assist them in their deliberations.
The findings from this targeted sample of records will provide information to assist me in identifying any necessary next steps.
Given the sensitive personal data contained in the files, data protection and GDPR issues have arisen, which have delayed the review, but these have now been addressed and work is advanced on extracting and reviewing the records.
The final report of the review is expected to be submitted to me before Easter 2019.