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Tusla and AAI given new tracing powers after 'technical issue' arises with Birth Information Act

An amendment is being made to the Birth Information and Tracing Act, six weeks after it became law.

AN AMENDMENT IS BEING MADE TO THE Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 – six weeks after it became law.

At the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Minister Roderic O’Gorman received approval for the amendment after an issue with the legislation emerged.

A technical issue arose in respect of the rights of access of relatives of people who were adopted, boarded out or nursed out (where a child was placed with a family or caregiver), the subject of an illegal birth registration, or resident as a child in a mother and baby institution or county institution.

Information in these circumstances may be released upon the death of both parents named in a record (such as a birth certificate).

However, neither Tusla nor the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) currently have the statutory basis to conduct a trace to confirm that both parents are in fact deceased.

The new amendment will address this issue by giving both organisations the power to conduct such a trace.

The Act has been in full effect since early October and there have been 5,500 applications for information and 2,500 applications to the tracing service to date.

Under the legislation, adopted people can access their birth certificates, medical records and early life information.

The Act also enables people to access this information if their parent has died, and for access by the next of kin of a child who died in an institution.

As reported by The Journal in October, the waiting time for adopted people to get their records and early life information had tripled from 30 days to 90 days with weeks of the new service accepting applications.

Also at the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Minister O’Gorman got approval from the Government to finally publish the report compiled by the Mother and Baby Home Collaborative Forum in 2018 after years of delays.

The report is sharply critical of a number of organisations – in particular Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. It states that survivors have found their dealings with Tusla “erratic, dysfunctional and devoid of trust“.

‘Unnecessarily complicated’

Adoption rights campaigners such as Claire McGettrick have consistently raised concerns with the legislation.

Writing in The Journal earlier this month, McGettrick stated: “The process for releasing records is unnecessarily complicated because of how the legislation defines information into several subcategories.”

McGettrick also noted that the Birth Information and Tracing Implementation Group, which was established in July 2021, does not include any members who are directly impacted by the legislation.

The group comprises representatives from the Department of Children, Tusla and the AAI.

McGettrick wrote: “The group was set up with the specific purpose of ensuring the ‘successful implementation of the legislation in the interests of all those with questions on their origins’.

“Inexplicably, however, the Minister did not see fit to appoint a single affected person to that group. Because the Minister has failed to consult with affected people in a meaningful way, I do not believe he understands just how low trust levels are.

“A system that has not been informed by the expertise of those most affected is destined to be flawed. It is clear to us that the State does not truly value the knowledge and expertise of people with lived experience.

“On the contrary, it seems that the more empowered we become, the more the State is determined to ignore us and thwart our efforts.”


The Journal last week launched a new six-part documentary series about mother and baby homes, telling the stories of women and children who passed through the system.

Redacted Lives will follow the experiences of mothers who ended up in institutions because they became pregnant outside marriage, as well as people born into the system.

Tens of thousands of pregnant women and girls were sent to mother and baby homes in Ireland throughout the 20th century. Their children were usually adopted or sent to industrial schools – often without their mother’s consent.

Mother and baby homes existed in many countries but the proportion of unmarried mothers sent to institutions here is believed to have been the highest in the world.

Many women have tried to find their children over the years, but to no avail. Adopted people also struggled to find their parents, or information about their early life.

These people were silenced for decades – and when the State finally said it would investigate the system via a Commission of Investigation, many of their stories were dismissed and disregarded.

Redacted Lives gives those women and their children the chance to tell the real story of mother and baby homes, and how the State continues to deny survivors access to information, proper redress and ownership of their true identities.

Finally, they get to speak in their own words, in their own voices.

New episodes will be released every Thursday. Subscribe to the series wherever you get your podcasts.

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If you passed through a mother and baby home or another institution and want to share your story, you can contact us in confidence by emailing

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