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Monday, March 1, 2021

Referendum not needed to grant adopted birth cert access, says Attorney General

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been told by Attorney General Paul Gallagher that a referendum will not be needed for survivors of the Mother and Baby Homes to gain access to their birth certificates.

Current law does not entitle adopted people to their birth certificates or family information, which has been criticised by survivors for many years.

With past efforts failing to grant them access, the survivors have stated that the State’s apology is hard to accept without access to their records.

Although suggested by the commission of investigation that a referendum would be required to overcome the situation based on legal advice given to former children’s minister Katherine Zappone by former Attorney General Seamus Woulfe, legal experts have disagreed with this notion, stating that the Oireachtas can legislate for an unqualified right of access to records.

Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College ‘David Kenny’ stated, “The (previous) Attorney General’s concern is based on a valid and important consideration: the privacy rights of birth mothers, some of whom do not wish to have their identities revealed, and may have expected that this would never happen,”.

“But the rights of adopted people to know their identity are similarly important, and this is a situation where rights clash: we cannot defend both at the same time.”

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