Dáil Éireann - Volume 461 - 08 February, 1996
Written Answers. - Hague Convention Ratification.
Mr. R. Burke Mr. R. Burke
47. Mr. R. Burke asked the Minister for Health if he considers enabling legislation to ratify the Hague Convention necessary, particularly in view of the distressing plight of Chinese children; if so, the time-frame in which this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2420/96]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East) Michael Noonan
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): I presume the Deputy is referring to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption which was completed in 1993 under the aegis of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
I am fully supportive of this Convention and its objectives. It represents an important instrument for improved international co-operation in the area of child protection. I am currently in the process of seeking Government approval to the signing of the Convention  in order to signal our intention of eventually ratifying it.
Before the Convention can be ratified here, it will be necessary to give the Convention the force of law in the State. This will involve making major changes to our domestic adoption legislation, including the Adoption Act, 1991, which contains the current statutory procedures for the regulation and recognition of foreign adoptions. It is likely to be some time before I will be in a position to bring forward the necessary legislation because my absolute priority in the adoption area is the preparation of an appropriate legislative response to address the issue raised in the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Keegan-v-Ireland. That judgment was delivered subsequent to the completion of the Hague Convention.
I am aware of the interest among Irish couples in adopting children from China. I should explain, however, that the Convention only provides for the recognition by countries which are parties to the Convention of intercountry adoptions which take place under and in accordance with the requirements of the Convention. This means that the Convention will not be of benefit to Irish residents wishing to adopt children from China until such time as it has been ratified by both Ireland and China. I understand that China has not ratified the instrument to date.
In advance of the ratification of the Hague Convention by Ireland and China, the question of whether Chinese adoptions are entitled to be recognised here must be examined in accordance with the provisions of the Adoption Act, 1991. In this context, I understand that the Adoption Board has taken the view that adoptions effected in China do not qualify for recognition under the 1991 Act. However, I have asked the Adoption Board to re-examine the position in relation to the compatibility of the two laws and, if necessary, to obtain counsel's opinion in the matter.
Dáil Éireann 461 Written Answers. Hague Convention Ratification.