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Law to unlock natal records, without birth parent go-ahead
Minister Roderick O'Gorman Pic: RollingNews.ie

12 May 2021 / legislation Print

Law to unlock natal records, without parental permission

Proposed legislation will enshrine in law a right to access birth certificates, birth and early-life information for people who have questions in relation to their origins. 

The birth certs will be available even where natal parents have not given permission, the Minister for Children said yesterday (11 May).

Minister Roderick O’Gorman said that the Government is working to balance GDPR with the rights of a person to have access to information about themselves.

Illegal registration

The new laws will cover those who were adopted, ‘boarded out’, the subject of an illegal birth registration and all others with questions in relation to their identity, the minister said.

The right to documentation includes not only birth certs but institutional records on file about the individual’s birth, early life, care, and medical information. 

The proposed legislation establishes a comprehensive tracing service and a statutory contact-preference register for those wishing to make contact or request information from a birth relative or kin.

The birth information and tracing legislation will now undergo pre-legislative scrutiny before the Oireachtas Committee for Children and Equality.

Legislation unlocks access to records for those affected by an illegal birth registration and offers a mechanism to provide clarity on matters relating to identity, Minister O’Gorman said yesterday.

The legislation takes a comprehensive approach, his department said, encompassing all those who may have a question in relation to their origins.

Contact register

Applications can be made to a new statutory contact preference register, where there is a wish to record a preference in relation to having contact with birth relatives.

Applicants will attend an information session where the wishes of their birth parents will be explained to them – but if they still want access to their birth certs, this access will be granted.

Requests for information, communications, and contemporary medical information may also be lodged, for the attention of a specified relative.

The legislation also addresses the issues facing people who are the subject of an illegal birth registration, with proposals to bring clarity on the question of identity. 

These proposals were developed by an Interdepartmental Group established by Minister O’Gorman, and will be the subject of consultation with those affected by illegal birth registration. 

Minister O’Gorman said: “For too long, adopted people and others have struggled with unanswered questions in relation to their identity and origins, and have felt the acute distress and inequity of that. 

“This is why the Government is bringing forward this proposed legislation which will unlock access to crucial information on a person’s origins; information which has been beyond their reach for too many years.

Complex 

“This complex and comprehensive legislation has to balance rights to identity with rights to privacy, in a fair and compassionate way. 

“This is not an easy task and I have worked intensively with the Attorney General to find a solution grounded in GDPR which guarantees a right of access to information which is central to a person’s identity, whilst respecting the privacy rights of others and ensuring support for all parties. 

“I look forward to consulting with stakeholders and engaging with TDs and senators on these legislative proposals.  My hope is that, by working in a focused, collaborative way, we can advance this legislation quickly in the interests of the affected individuals.”

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland