Ireland sets launch date for historic birth information and tracing services News
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Ireland sets launch date for historic birth information and tracing services

Irish Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman Monday signed an order providing for birth information and tracing services under the new Birth Information and Tracing Act to begin on October 3. The act codifies the right for every Irish person who was adopted, was boarded out or had their birth information illegally registered to have unrestricted access to any information the state holds relating to their birth and early life. The legislation will also allow children or their next of kin to access such information where their parent has died. The legislation is significantly important for those who have been affected by Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions.

The law established a new online tracking system and a contact preference register, including the ability to request privacy. This means that an individual may choose to be registered as “no contact,” and the Adoption Authority will convey their decision to those who seek contact. The contact preference system seeks to ensure the right to privacy of birth parents while also balancing the right of adopted children seeking information.

The legislation requires that the Contact Preference Register must be open for a minimum period of three months before applications for birth certificates and related birth information will be accepted, and individuals have been encouraged to register prior to the October commencement date. The Adoption Authority of Ireland reported in August that nearly 900 adoptees and birth parents have already registered contact preferences.

Campaign group the Clann Project have been critical of the act, saying there are still significant barriers in place before adoptees can access information. The group stressed that there is no automatic access to birth certificates and no rights to all personal files held by the state, religious orders and adoption agencies. Before the release of birth certificates, some adopted people must attend a mandatory information session about their parents’ privacy rights. The organisation believes that adopted persons are being discriminated against when compared to the rest of the population who have unrestricted access to their public record birth certificates.