Thousands of adoption records not released by ‘unrealistic’ deadline

The Adoption Authority of Ireland and the child and family agency Tusla have confirmed that thousands of adopted people who requested their records under the new Birth Information and Tracing Bill did not receive them by yesterday’s statutory deadline.

The agencies say that out of more than 6,000 requests, just 65 have been concluded, in part because the law gave officials just one month to find records.

Claire McGettrick, co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, said the deadline was “unrealistic” because of how information is defined and categorised under the legislation.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, she said instead of information officers in the Adoption Authority and Tusla looking at the file in its entirety and eliminating information that cannot be released, they have to go through the different categories.

“Thirty days just isn’t enough time to do just that,” she said.

She said the Minister “failed to consult us” along the way, the system was designed without them, and that the implementation group created did not see an affected person appointed to the group.

On the 90-day extension time, she said she was “very fearful” that this would be met.

“This is a situation of the minister’s making, he has promised a landmark system, promised a brand spanking new system and he has created and designed it without us and has created chaos instead,” Ms McGettrick said.

She said the minister had repeatedly promised nothing would be redacted or held back, and every applicant would get a full and complete set of records, but instead records are being held back and there are some redactions.

“Thankfully not many redactions but there are some redactions,” she said.

In her own case, the PDF of her records under GDPR was 100 pages but what she got back yesterday under this system was 40 pages.

She said that the minister had the power to amend the legislation and the Burials Bill while this is going on.

“Ultimately, I can’t help but feel this is going to end up in litigation and I cannot see it withstanding litigation at the courts of justice the European Union,” Ms McGettrick said.

“I believe strongly that the state is counting on people to not have the energy to do this but we’re not going anywhere,” she added.

In a statement to RTÉ’s News at One, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, said his department has given the Adoption Authority of Ireland and Tusla €4m “to support implementation of the legislation” and that “no redactions can ever take place of a person’s
own information”.

Both Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland confirmed the records retrieval delay figures while Tusla apologised for delays and said anyone still waiting for records will receive them by “the end of January”.

Source: RTE News