The act provides a right of access to birth certificates, birth and early-life information for anyone who was adopted, boarded out, the subject of an illegal birth registration, or who otherwise has questions about their origins.
It also allows for access to information by a child of a relevant person where their parent has died, and for access by the next of kin of children who died in an institution.
The new law set up an information-and-tracing service – due to open in October – and a Contact Preference Register, as well as a range of new measures to address issues arising for people affected by illegal birth registration.
Counselling and support are also available to persons affected on request. All services will be free of charge for applicants.
The Government says that, from today (1 July), applications can be made to the Contact Preference Register by those wishing to make contact, to request privacy, or to seek or share information with a relative.
Under the act, the register must be open for a minimum of three months before applications for birth certificates and related birth information will be accepted. Those affected are being encouraged to register their preferences before October.
The Contact Preference Register will be facilitated by the Adoption Authority of Ireland, which currently has responsibility for the National Adoption Contact Preference Register.
All entries currently held on that register will transfer over to the new register and remain valid.
A website with more information on the act, and the services it establishes, has been set up.
The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said that he had spoken to many people affected by this legislation, and that they had told him about the impact that a lack of access to information about their own identity had had on them.
“I sincerely hope that this historic law finally provides the answers that so many people have sought for so long,” he said.
“Unfortunately for some people, the information that exists may be limited, incomplete or inaccurate. This reminds us all of how important the support and counselling services in place for people will be,” the minister added.
The act also amends the Civil Registration Act 2004 and the Succession Act 1965 to address key issues – including inheritance issues – arising for people affected by illegal birth registration.