Zappone plans talks in bid to fast-track tracing laws

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone will hold talks with opposition parties in a bid to ensure a law allowing adopted people to trace their birth parents is passed by the end of the year.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney yesterday confirmed the meeting will take place on June 13, adding that the Government wants to fast-track the bill in order to have it signed into law by December.

Speaking during a Dáil debate in the aftermath of the St Patrick’s Guild illegal adoptions revelations and fears thousands of other people could be affected, Mr Coveney said the Government is acutely aware of the seriousness of what has happened.

Asked by Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin what action the Coalition is taking to allow adopted people trace their birth parents, Mr Coveney said Ms Zappone will discuss the issue in detail with opposition parties when the Dáil returns after next week.

“Minister Zappone is seeking to progress the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016, which will create for the first time a statutory right for adopted persons and persons who have been subject to incorrect birth registration, birth certificate information and certain other information,” said Mr Coveney.

The intention is that the bill would certainly be enacted by the end of the year. The minister has invited various spokespersons on children to meet her on June 13, the week after our non-sitting week, to discuss how we can progress this legislation.

“She is very anxious to talk to other political parties so that we can progress this quickly.”

Mr Coveney was responding to Mr Ó Broin, who said the “shocking revelations in recent days” demanded immediate action.

“This has rightly caused much anger and angst. Successive governments have known about this and have failed to act despite reams of evidence,” said the Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West.

“The situation persists that there is no statutory basis upon which people can access information relating to their identities and health records.”

Labour TD and former tánaiste Joan Burton, who was adopted, backed the calls to fast-track the tracing legislation, saying adopted people have a “human right” to know where they are from.

“I have been speaking to a number of adopted people who, as is their human right, are looking for information about their birth including their birth certificates,” said Ms Burton.

“They cannot get them because all the power lies with the adoption societies and their inheritor, Tusla. One women in her 30s has thought long about this and wants to know about her birth. 

"She is entitled to that under the UN and European conventions on human rights.

“Four years ago, she filled in forms and made the necessary contacts with Tusla. She has heard absolutely nothing.”

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