In the Dáil.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone was asked by Sinn Féin TD Denise Mitchell about her department’s scoping exercise into illegal adoptions being carried out – which was announced in May.
Ms Mitchell asked Ms Zappone to outline the number of records being examined by Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland as part of her scoping exercise and the progress on it.
Ms Zappone said there are approximately 150,000 adoption records in existence and, of these, 100,000 are in possession of the State – Tusla or the Adoption Authority of Ireland.
She said the sample of adoptions being investigated has been taken from this 100,000 but she didn’t specifically state how many records are being examined.
She said issues regarding data protection and GDPR rules have arisen and so the estimated time for the independent reviewer’s report to be delivered has been extended until mid-December.
Later, Ms Mitchell, who raised the work of the Irish Examiner’s Conall Ó Fátharta on the matter, said asked Ms Zappone if she would commit to holding an investigation into all adoption records and commit to seizing records not in the State’s possession.
“Recent media reports suggested that much of this documentation has been in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for years. So, minister, I want to ask you, if this information has been in this department for years, why has it taken so long to initiate an investigation?”
Ms Zappone, in her reply said she was “deeply concerned about the issue of illegal registrations” and is in regular contact with people who have been adopted and their advocates.
“It’s true that the adoption authority has previously spoken publicly about cases on its files where it suspects there to have been an illegal registration but, so far, it has not had sufficient information on file to confirm them.
“As I said in my press statement of the 29th of May, it is examining these unconfirmed cases further, to see if any further facts can be established. But it’s really difficult to prove these cases in the absence of good records.
“If the AAI, following this validation exercise, reaches the high level of certainty that I have spoken of, these cases will be added to the 126 that have already been confirmed and announced by me. “
Ms Zappone told Ms Mitchell that she also reads the Irish Examiner and is aware of the work of Mr Ó Fátharta and other journalists on the subject.
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