Report into illegal birth registrations to be submitted to Minister before Easter

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone

The long-delayed report into illegal birth registrations will be submitted to children's minister Katherine Zappone before Easter.

The report will be based on a scoping exercise announced by Ms Zappone at the end of May following the discovery by Tusla of 126 cases in which births were illegally registered between 1946 and 1969 in the records of St Patrick’s Guild. The records transferred to the agency in 2016.

The scoping exercise is being led by independent reviewer, Marion Reynolds, and involves the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) and Tusla.

The final report has been delayed twice since last May. It was initially due in October of last year. However, in September Ms Zappone said the report had been delayed until mid-December due to it being a “very complex" task and issues that had arisen "in relation to data protection and GDPR”. It was then delayed again until Easter of this year.

To date, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has declined to reveal the sample size of the 150,000 records to be examined as part of the review or the methodology involved.

The scoping exercise has also been criticised for being focused only on illegal registrations and not all forms of illegal adoption.

Ms Zappone and her Department have also repeatedly defended its failure to launch an investigation into illegal adoptions or to carry out an audit of adoption records held by the State before now.

The Irish Examiner has reported on such cases going back to 2010 and has also revealed the level of knowledge of the issue within the DCYA going back to at least 2011.

The State's own regulatory body for adoption - the AAI - warned the DCYA about the scale of the problem on three separate occasions in 2011, 2013, and in 2015.

It specifically cited "several hundred" cases at St Patrick's Guild but also warned that there “may be thousands” more cases across other agencies.

In 2015, it sent the DCYA a detailed spreadsheet containing 90 cases that it felt represented illegal registrations. This information was not acted upon at that time.

Despite being aware of the AAI cases as far back as 2011, the DCYA has now said that it is carrying out "a validation exercise" in relation to them.

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