‘Historic’ Birth Information and Tracing Bill to become law
The Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022 has completed its final stage in the in the Dáil and Seanad and will now be referred to President Higgins to be signed.
The legislation will provide a clear right of access to birth certificates, birth and early life information for all persons who were adopted, boarded out, the subject of an illegal birth registration or who otherwise have questions in relation to their origins.
The new law will see the establishment of a tracing service and a Contact Preference Register, as well as a range of new measures to address issues arising for people affected by illegal birth registration. A broad spectrum of counselling and support will also be provided to persons on request.
All of these services will be free of charge for applicants.
The legislation will also guarantee the safeguarding of important records and is, therefore, a valuable foundational step in the development of the planned National Centre for Research and Remembrance.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said: “This is a historic moment. The Birth Information and Tracing Bill finally and conclusively addresses the wrongful denial of people’s identity rights over many decades in this State.
“Crucially, the new law finally overcomes decades of legal obstacles to provide a clear right for each person to full access to all of his or her information, - no redactions; nothing held back. This Bill represents a very significant part of the redress that the Irish State is making for its failure towards children and women over decades since the foundation of our State.
“I want to thank every adopted person, everyone who was subject to an illegal birth registration and everyone who was boarded out or resident in a Mother and Baby or County Home Institution, who has engaged in the process of developing this legislation. I hope this law and the information that will flow from it will give each and every one of those persons the answers they have sought for such a long time.”
It is intended that the legislation will be commenced in two separate stages. In July, a new Contact Preference Register, operated by Adoption Authority of Ireland, will open for applications. This register will empower people to record their preferences in relation to contact with others and the sharing and receiving of information. The Act provides that the Contact Preference Register must be open for a minimum period of 3 months before applications for birth certificate and related birth information will be accepted.
A public information campaign will also be launched in July to inform people of the important services to be provided for under this new legislation. This campaign will include delivery of an information booklet to every household in the country, and will have a local, national and international focus.
In October this year, Information and Tracing services under the legislation will open. Applications for records can be made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. A bespoke website will be available in July for persons seeking to make an application or seeking further information.