The Government has refused to give a date for the publication of a report from the long-delayed scoping exercise into the practice of illegal birth registrations.
The scoping exercise, which was due to have finished in October of last year, was announced by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone in May 2018 following the discovery by Tusla of 126 cases in which births were illegally registered between 1946 and 1969 in the records of the former St Patrick’s Guild adoption agency.
Despite the completed report going to Ms Zappone in May of this year, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has declined to give a date for its publication, stating only that it is “currently awaiting legal advice from the Attorney General” on the report.
The scoping exercise was led by independent reviewer, Marion Reynolds, and also involved the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) and Tusla.
The final report was due in October 2018, but was initially delayed until mid-December of that year due to it being “a very complex task”, as well as data protection issues in relation to GDPR and .
It was then further delayed until Easter of this year. The final report eventually went to the department in May.
Adoption campaigners have been extremely critical of the scoping exercise, labelling it “cosmetic”, as it is not looking at illegal adoptions and is examining just 1.5% of the more than 100,000 records held by Tusla and the AAI. In fact, it is unclear if any completed adoption orders are being examined as part of the inquiry.
Other forms of illegal adoption include cases of falsified or questionable consents, where the mother consenting was a minor; adoptions granted in the absence of birth certificates of any kind; and in the case of children whose parents were married and instances of correct birth registrations which resulted in illegal adoptions.
Campaigners have also stressed that — as illegal registrations were usually carried out to circumvent adoption law — it is unlikely that adoption agencies signposted that fact using markers or labels in any systematic way.
The interim reports of the independent reviewer state that, of the 30,000 records held by the AAI, 4,351 across five adoption agencies were identified as “relevant to the review”. A total of 459 were then examined for markers.
Of the 70,000 records held by Tusla, a total of 1,082 records are being examined across 20 adoption societies, six nursing homes and five regions where children were boarded out prior to adoption becoming legal in 1952.
In total, the review will examine just 1,541, or 1.5%, of the more than 100,000 records held by Tusla and the AAI.
The department had previously declined to reveal the sample size of the records to be examined as part of the review, or the methodology involved.