Ireland's Birth and Information Tracing Act 2022 has been signed into law, providing right of access to birth certificates, birth, and early life information for all persons who were adopted, boarded out, the subject of an illegal birth registration, or who otherwise have questions in relation to their origins.
The new legislation 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 Act was signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins on June 30, and Ireland’s Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, has commenced the first suite of provisions within the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022, paving the way for Information and Tracing Services to open in October 2022.
🖊️📄‘Historic’ Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 signed into law and first steps towards Information and Tracing Services commenced.
📰 https://t.co/ds88qWMjzT pic.twitter.com/zg0FtZc3Jh— Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, Youth (@dcediy) July 1, 2022
The new law establishes a tracing service and a Contact Preference Register, as well as a range of new bespoke measures to address issues arising for people affected by illegal birth registration.
A broad spectrum of counselling and support is also available to persons affected on request. All of these services will be free of charge for applicants.
From July 1, applications may 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.
The Act provides that the Contact Preference Register must be open for a minimum period of three months before applications for birth certificate and related birth information will be accepted. Those affected are encouraged to register their preferences in advance of October when applications to the Information and Tracing Services will open.
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 Contact Preference Register and remain valid, however, persons with entries already registered are advised to consider re-applying to the new register to ensure their contact details and preferences are up to date.
"Thousands of birth parents left Ireland to rebuild their lives in other countries," Patricia Carey, CEO of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, said. "We also hope to reach and engage with adult adoptees living abroad, in countries including the UK, US, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia.
"The Adoption Authority wants to use the next three months trying to reach as many people as possible – at home and abroad – to let them know it is now possible for them to find out about their origins.
“We also want to encourage all those affected by the legislation to record their preferences on the Contact Preference Register in relation to contact with others and the sharing and receiving of information.
“The Birth Information and Tracing Act ensures that everyone is entitled to all their birth information held by the Irish state, however, the Contact Preference Register allows for different levels of contact. It might be that someone is willing to share background information, they might be willing to communicate by email or letter, they might be open to a telephone call, or they might be willing to meet in person. Others may wish no contact at all. It is up to each individual to make that choice.”
A public information campaign also begins from July 1 to inform people of the important services to be delivered under this new legislation. This campaign will include delivery of an information booklet to every household in the country, and will have a local, national and international focus.
A bespoke website with more information on the act, the services it establishes, and the persons eligible to use them, is now available at BirthInfo.ie.