The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) calls on Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman to remove the provision for a mandatory Information Session from the Birth (Information and Tracing) Bill 2022. In its current format, the Bill states that adopted people whose parents have registered a preference for no contact must attend a mandatory Information Session before their birth certificate is released to them. The IASW views the Information Session as a discriminatory and unnecessary measure that will cause further harm to people affected by forced family separation. The organisation also calls on the Minister to ensure that the Bill guarantees that affected people have access to all available information.
IASW Chairman, Vivian Geiran said: ‘Last year, following its apology on foot of the Mother and Baby Homes Report, the IASW pledged to listen to affected people. At our last AGM we appointed an adopted person and advocate to our Board of Directors, and we now have an Adoption and Mother and Baby Homes Working Group which is developing IASW’s response to the issues arising from the Report. We recognise the importance of listening to and believing the people most affected by forced family separation. Adopted people have made clear that the Information Session is offensive to them and the IASW strongly supports their call for its removal. We stand in solidarity with adopted people, mothers and relatives and call for their information rights to be vindicated as a matter of urgency.’
IASW Board Member and spokesperson, Majella Hickey said: ‘A key element of our role as the representative body for social workers in Ireland is to highlight and challenge social injustices. The mandatory Information Session is an injustice that will cause further injury to adopted people. If this bill is to serve as a measure of reparation, it must at a bare minimum do no further harm. Adopted people deserve nothing less than unconditional access to their birth certificates and records. We are also very concerned that the Bill appears to restrict access to all available records because information is defined under a number of subcategories. It is imperative to ensure that all personal data and administrative records are available to mothers, adopted people, relatives and all those affected by these issues.
The IASW calls on the Minister to amend this Bill so that it represents a measure of justice for the harms caused by forced family separation in Ireland.