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O'Gorman, Taoiseach and AG 'at one' on prioritising legislation on adopted people's access to records

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said that the legislation would have GDPR at the heart of it.
Jan 17th 2021, 4:05 PM 10,960 18

MINISTER FOR CHILDREN Roderic O’Gorman has said that the Government is to prioritise getting legislation enacted to give adopted people rights to their personal records before the end of the year.

Adopted people are not entitled to their birth certs or family information under the current law.

The Mother and Baby Home Commission suggested in their final report that a referendum would be needed to change that based on advice given by the previous Attorney General Séamus Woulfe, but numerous legal experts and the current Attorney General Paul Gallagher said this was not the case.

Speaking on Newstalk’s On the Record today, the Minister said that his Department had been “engaging intensively” with the Attorney General’s office on this issue.

He said that he hopes to give a timeline for the legislation in the next two or three weeks.

When asked by Newstalk presenter Gavan Reilly whether he still intended to get it “fully legislated before the end of this year”, O’Gorman said “absolutely, I want to achieve that”. 

He said that he, the Taoiseach and the Attorney General are “at one” that issue will be prioritised, and that the legislation will be “based on a GDPR approach which puts the right of an individual to their personal information at the centre of the legislation”.

The Minister also said that the Government won’t restrict itself to the three categories of former resident that the Commission suggested would be able to avail of redress, based on a decision taken by Cabinet last week. 

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An inter-departmental group has been set up to design a redress scheme for the residents of the Mother and Baby Homes, which is due to report back by April. 

The fallout from the Mother and Baby Home Commission’s report is continuing this weekend, with concerns raised about some of the findings in the report, at possible prosecutions over some of the activities, and a discussion about the appropriate response from the State and religious institutions who ran the homes.

Archbishop Eamon Martin told This Week on RTÉ Radio that the religious orders should not be “scapegoated”, and said that there should be reparations “if it’s proportionate”.

“I think we can expect that all the people who were involved in this should be demonstrating the sincerity of the apologies.”

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Gráinne Ní Aodha

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