Zappone declines to give deadline for publication of report into illegal birth registrations

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has declined to give a deadline for the publication of the long-delayed report into illegal birth registrations.

The report will be based on the results of a scoping exercise announced in May last year 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 scoping exercise is being led by independent reviewer, Marion Reynolds, and involves the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) and Tusla.

The report was initially due in October 2018 but has been delayed numerous times.

The Irish Examiner has revealed documented cases of illegal adoptions and illegal birth registrations since as far back as 2010, including the fact that the AAI warned the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) about the scale of the problem on three separate occasions in 2011, 2013, and in 2015.

Responding to a question from Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Ms Zappone said she expected to receive the final report at the end of this week and committed to publishing the report in full. However, she declined to give a date for its publication.

"I would like to be able to do that but I do not feel I can, just right now. I do not know what it will say. Depending on what it says, that might mean I need more time with it. However, I absolutely commit that I will publish it," she said.

Adoption campaigners have hit out at the scoping exercise branding it "cosmetic" due to its narrow terms of reference.

The review is looking at a sample of just over 1% of records and is not looking for evidence of illegal adoptions. Instead, records are being compared against a set list of 24 labels or "markers" which might indicate an illegal birth registration.

Campaigners have said it is unlikely that adoption agencies signposted an illegal act using markers or labels in any systematic way.

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