Adoption rights campaigners say amended bill is 'deeply flawed'

Adoption rights campaigners say amended bill is 'deeply flawed'

Adoption rights campaigners have hit out at children's minister Katherine Zappone's failure to consult them about the Government's latest amendments to its long-promised information and tracing legislation.

An altered version of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 is to progress to Seanad Committee Stage tomorrow.

However, the Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) has hit out at the fact that, while a briefing note on "a radically altered" version of the bill was sent to TDs and Senators on June 5, stakeholders were not informed.

In a strongly worded statement ahead of the bill going before the Seanad, ARA said if Ms Zappone proceeds with the Bill in its current form, she will be facilitating "an egregious step backwards in an era of progressive social change".

"Anything less than unfettered access to birth certificates - which are already public records - and unredacted early life and adoption records is deeply discriminatory to adopted people and those born in Mother and Baby Homes and similar institutions who have grown up under the closed, secret system here in Ireland," said the statement.

ARA has claimed the proposals contravene UN and European Conventions on human rights, which require Ireland to repair its past abuses of forced family separation by giving all those affected full access to the truth.

Under an earlier draft of the bill, an adopted person was required to sign an undertaking, before information will be released.

This has been removed and replaced by a system whereby Tusla will attempt to locate and contact both natural parents as soon as an adopted person requests access to their own early life and adoption files.

Where the natural parent does not consent to the release of the information, both parties will make their case before the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

However, the adoption rights groups have been scathing of this planned new system.

Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors (CMABS) labelled the bill "a complete sham".

"Adoptees' rights have been stripped out and replaced by a provision requiring us to seek our mothers' permission to discover our own identities.

"This will create long waiting lists and an expensive bureaucratic nightmare costing millions and piling pressure on social workers.

"Three years ago, Ms Zappone was handed a ready-to-go Adoption Bill but she has wilfully stalled all progress and an aging survivor community is worse off than when she assumed office," he said.

Adoptee Identity Rights group Aitheantas said it would be "a gross injustice and a breach of both human rights and the constitutional rights of adoptees" for this Bill to be allowed to be passed in its present form.

"The Minister recently stated she sought to ‘tilt that balance more strongly in favour of applicants' right to identity and access to birth information while maintaining necessary protections for a small cohort of potentially vulnerable birth parents’.

"The Minister has not achieved these aims with this bill which is now deeply flawed, discriminatory and not reflective of the open, modern and liberal society that the government now claims we have," said a statement.

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