Update, 1 July 2022: The Bill was signed into law by the President on 30 June 2022.
The Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022 completed its final stage before the Oireachtas on 22 June 2022. The Bill has now been sent to the President for his consideration and signature, following which it will become law. We considered the Bill’s scope and notable provisions in a previous article here.
In summary, the Bill’s key components are:
- A right of access to “birth information”, “early life information” and birth certificates, for “relevant persons”, which means persons who were adopted, the subject of an incorrect birth registration, resident in a Mother and Baby Home or County Home Institution up to the age of 18, or boarded or nursed out.
- A tracing service, to be provided by the Adoption Authority and Tusla, for the purpose of enabling relevant persons and their family members to make contact or exchange information about the relevant person.
- A Contact Preference Register, to be established by the Adoption Authority, to which certain persons can apply to have recorded their contact details and their preferences as regards contact with a specified person.
The Bill also gives the Adoption Authority the power to direct any “secondary information source” to furnish, within three months, a statement of the “relevant records” in its possession. A “secondary information source” includes a registered adoption society, an accredited body under the Adoption Act 2010 or a person prescribed by the Minister for Children. “Relevant records” include birth information and early life information. These records may be transferred to the Adoption Authority following a request by the secondary information source, or where the Authority so directs. The Authority is required to make all necessary arrangements for the transfer, including to ensure safe receipt of the records. Otherwise, the secondary information source must retain and maintain all relevant records held by it.
The Government’s public announcement of the Bill’s passing states that the legislation is intended to be commenced in two separate stages. First, in July 2022, the Contact Preference Register will open for applications. A public information campaign, as required by the Bill, will also be launched in July, to promote public awareness of the process for applying to the Register and for accessing birth certificates and other information under the legislation. Second, in October 2022, information and tracing services under the legislation will open.
The Bill is a significant piece of legislation, which will provide clarity on the right of access to birth and early life information, for those to whom the information relates, and on the responsibilities of organisations that hold such information. A Bill is usually signed by the President between five and seven days of its being passed, so this is likely to happen within the coming days.
For more information on the commencement of the legislation, please get in touch with a member of our Public, Regulatory & Investigations team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.