Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 14 March, 1996

Written Answers. - National Archives' Adoption Files.

48. Ms F. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health when he intends to introduce a voluntary contact register and a statutorily based contact register arising from the finding of 1,500 adoption files at the National Archives. [5940/96]

50. Ms F. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health if he has set up inquiries with the health boards to clarify whether any adoption files similar to the 1,500 files located at the National Archives are held by the health boards. [5942/96]

[439] 51. Ms F. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to any further files relating to adoptions which may be held elsewhere in the country in view of the recent discovery of 1,500 adoption files at the National Archives; and, if so, what steps, if any, he intends to take to retrieve these files. [5943/96]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Currie): I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 50 and 51 together.

In the course of the Adjournment Debate on 5 March I informed the House that I would be asking the health boards to check any records that may be available to them to establish the extent of the practice of sending children abroad for adoption. This has been followed up by my Department which wrote to the health boards in the matter on 6 March.

My Department is in contact with the Adoption Board regarding assistance in making inquiries about records which registered adoption societies may have on children who were sent abroad for adoption.

The records of the Department of Education relating to children placed in industrial schools in the past may also be of relevance and the two Departments will shortly be liaising on this matter.

In tandem with these inquiries, my Department and the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Education will give consideration to the most appropriate arrangements for collating the information contained in available records.

I wish to explain that my immediate priority in the adoption area is the introduction of amending legislation to address the issues raised in the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Keegan v. Ireland and to extend the current law on the recognition of foreign adoptions to secure the recognition of adoptions effected in countries, including the People's Republic of China, whose laws permit the termination of adoptions in [440] particular circumstances. I expect to be in a position within the next two weeks to seek Government authority to the drafting of a new Adoption Bill to deal with these two matters.

It would also be my firm intention to bring forward at the earliest possible date a further Bill to provide for the establishment of a national adoption contact register to assist adopted persons and birth parents who wish to re-establish contact with one another. The Government accepts that the law in this area is in need of updating to take account of recent developments in adoption practice and the changing nature of adoption. The feasibility of extending the scope of the proposed contact register to include Irish persons adopted abroad in the past will be examined in the context of the preparation of the necessary enabling legislation.