Test Excavations at Sean Ross Abbey

The Commission has recently conducted geophysical testing on the burial grounds located on the site of Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea Co. Tipperary. Following the initial geophysical testing, the Commission began test excavations on Monday 18 February and this process is expected to last 3 weeks.The Commission is due to deliver an interim report next month in relation to Burials at the sites of former Mother and Baby Homes. The Minister intends to publish this report as quickly as possible after she has an op-portunity to study its contents in conjunction with her Government colleagues

Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016. Proposal to Amend Privacy Provisions

On Tuesday 26 February 2019 Minister Katherine Zappone announced that she had secured Government ap-proval to draft amendments to revise the privacy provisions in the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016.

The Bill as published requires applicants for birth information to sign an undertaking, in certain circumstances, that they will not contact the birth parent. It also allows birth parents to invoke compelling reasons as to why their information should not be released, where such release would be likely to endanger their lives.

The revised scheme will replace the current provisions, including the undertaking, and will provide for contact with all birth parents to ascertain whether they have any objection to the birth information being released. Where the parent does not consent to the release of the information, there will be an opportunity for both parties to make their case before the Adoption Authority of Ireland. The Authority will make a determination in the case, against a range of criteria by referenceto Supreme Court jurisprudence. There will be an appeal from the decision to the Circuit Court.

The revised scheme means that the requirement for signing an undertaking is removed and the applicant and the birth parent have an equal chance to make their case about why the information should be released. When speaking about the amendments Minister Zappone said “the provisions in the Bill in relation to release of birth information are very serious and complex. We must balance the competing rights to identity with the right to privacy, in certain circumstances. I believe that people have the right to know of their true origins but we are also required to protect vulnerable birth parents. I believe the scheme for which I got approval today is a rea-sonable compromise in all the circumstances, and I hope all stakeholders will support the proposal, so this legislation can be enacted as quickly as possible.

Monthly Update on Issues relating to Mother and Baby Homes -March 2019