Tusla has refused repeated requests from the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) for access to certain adoption records it holds.
Tusla is the largest repository of adoption records in the country, holding around 70,000 records from former adoption societies. A further 30,000 are held by the AAI, and some 50,000 are held by accredited agencies.
As the regulatory body for adoption in Ireland, the AAI has the power to inspect and copy all records held by bodies accredited under the Adoption Act 2010.
However, despite holding almost 50% of all adoption records in existence, Tusla is not an accredited body under the act and the AAI has no power over how it holds these records.
In response to a number of queries from the, AAI chief executive Patricia Carey confirmed that “on occasion” it has been refused access to adoption records.
While the authority cannot comment on individual cases, we can confirm that, on occasion, Tusla has refused a request from the authority for adoption records, where it considered it appropriate to do so,” she said.
When asked if the AAI has concerns over the fact that it cannot inspect the largest body of adoption records in the State, Ms Carey said the regulatory body enjoys “a good working relationship” with Tusla and that all adoption records will transfer to the AAI once the Adoption Bill 2016 becomes law.
“The authority enjoys a good working relationship with Tusla and co-operates on the receipt and sharing of information, where appropriate, for the purposes of fulfilling its functions,” said Ms Carey.
“The provisions of the 2016 bill, once enacted, will mean that all adoption records not already held by the authority will be transferred to the custody of the authority.”
Ms Carey confirmed that while the AAI has no powers to inspect and copy adoption records held by Tusla, the agencies share information.
While the authority’s powers under the acts are broad in nature and extend, under section 96(2) of the Adoption Acts 2010-2017, to such powers as are necessary or expedient for the performance by it of its functions, there is no specific power under the acts to allow the inspection of all records held by Tusla,” she said. “Where appropriate, the authority and Tusla co-operate in the sharing of information.
Tusla said it can not state how many times it has refused a request from the AAI as it “does not compile the data”. It said a Freedom of Information request can be made to learn the answer.
It said the reason it has refused the AAI requests is that it can only share personal information relating to clients/service users with a third party with the clients’ or users’ express consent.