SALI, the Separation, Appropriation & Loss Initiative, has provided commentary on the Birth Information and Tracing Bill (BITB), since it was first published by Minister O’Gorman. The latest version of the BITB was offered as a compromise to the many voices of concern that had been raised against its provisions.
SALI has noted the Minister’s intent on forcing through a number of provisions, following the publication of the Commission of Investigation’s report into Mother and Baby Homes. This is being done with the apparent aim of bringing about resolution to a number of injustices to the Women and Children, who had suffered within these Institutions. The government’s ambitious timetable has left little time for discussion, analysis and change. Indeed, SALI has noted how many valuable amendments offered by campaigners and TD’s have been rejected; unless changes are made, it is the opinion of SALI that the BITB will create serious imbalances and bring about further challenges in the courts.
To that end, SALI has noted that as the BITB is now entering its final stage of scrutiny, there still remains the possibility that valuable changes to the proposed legislation could be made by Senators, utilising the “cream list” method of importing important clause changes. SALI has already written to all Senators in the Oireachtas, enclosing their copy of their suggested changes to the Bill. Such changes include:
- The Language & Opening Statement of the BITB;
- Substantial changes to Part 2 of the Bill;
- Comment on the limiting methodology of the BITB;
- The requirement to remove the need for formal Information Sessions;
- Warnings about the nature & essence of historical ‘informed consent’;
- Examination of the GDPR and the Relevant Body;
- The current failure of the Stakeholder Advisory Group;
- The requirement to extend the rights of the entire family line;
- The absolute necessity of taking possession of Church & Religious Records and the failure of the current clause;
- The fundamental error & failure to recognise and deal with the obvious cross-border issues, and
- Further commentary on the recent O’Mahoney recommendations
It is SALI’s opinion, that the Irish government has some way to go if it intends to deliver on the Rights of those who were subject to adoptions and/or illegal adoptions.
Breeda Murphy states:
"Heritage and family connection matters quite a lot in Ireland. Imagine growing up not knowing your clan, to whom you belong. That is the lived and living experience for many of our Irish citizens. It is not due to the fact that records do not exist, but from a concentrated effort by both State and Church to conceal identities from adults, who wish to find their birth family. The reasons for withholding such evidence are unclear but ownership is power and in this case that power is exerted in a most cruel fashion”.
"My relative who will be 89 in May of this year, had his details, birth date and surname changed and so it would have been virtually impossible to find him via documentary sources alone even if the State allowed that. DNA technologies unlocked the puzzle of his birth and early life, and records were held within the Council, the hospital and Church where he was baptised, but were unavailable from the Religious Order that ran the Orphanage where he was placed. It took fourteen months of painstaking genealogy based research, with the help of extended family trees here and overseas to provide David with his true identity and a heritage that we can trace back hundreds of years”.
"This legislation must acknowledge the State’s duty of care to its Citizens without distinction. It is a ‘processor’ of information pertaining to adoption, fostering of boarded out children and must allow unfettered access on request, to enable family reunification within a clear supportive framework, in acknowledgment and recognition of human rights applicable. We have the opportunity now to right an injustice, let us ensure the Bill enables rather than restricts those seeking birth and early life documentation and information”.
Eunan Duffy states:
“Closed, illegal and forced adoptions are still in operation in parts of this modern world, even in the misnomered "civilised" world. Adoption and other 'care' arrangements have been used predominantly within a inter-country and domestic trafficking system to satisfy the needs of others over the best interests and needs of the child too often, and this system can be likened to a 'witness protection program' where a new identity is created at the expense of a personal and familial history, heritage, culture, bio-physiology”.
“Withholding the truth and identity, concealing illegal and criminal activity yet pervades society as facilitators and profiteers remain at large in their malignant complicity”.
“This BITB compounds the removal of autonomy, agency, integrity and human rights afforded to the non-adopted and falls way short of internationally-recognised and inherent human and moral rights. Access to records that restore truth and provenance, genesis and humanity should not be debatable nor denied to any individual. Shared and mixed information is owned, relevant and entitled to each person when it affects the very being and existence of each person. Secrecy, privacy, truth and disclosure must be considered on a case-by-case basis with no arbitrary ultimate veto afforded to the mother nor adopted person. Skilled and best-informed practitioners who must now take a 'maximalist-disclosure' approach must be the only way forward. Knowing what we know, being who we are, living the truth of where we come from and making personal choices based on our information is the basic right of all”.
Frank Brehany states:
“It was disappointing at the Committee stage to witness the failure to adopt and perhaps consider the value of the many amendments that were offered. I can truly understand the desire for any Minister to bring about the necessary change in any given area, but the speed at which the processes stemming from the Mother and Baby Home report, will I fear present further difficulties down the road if government doesn’t take the time to carefully consider the serious issues before them. I am proud to be the co-author of the SALU report on the BITB and sincerely hope that Irish Senators will give good consideration to these important issues and develop a “cream list” of amendments. If they do so, they will send a powerful message to government, that getting it right now, not only delivers Justice for the many adoptees, but will also ensure that less legal risks will present themselves for future governments”
Notes to editors:
The following provides a brief bio on each of the SALI report Authors:
Breeda is committed to issues of Social Justice and in particular societal structure and how power is controlled to deny certain groups of people their rightful place in society. She has extensively researched the ‘Forgotten Irish’, those who left Irish shores and who supported those they had left behind. Over 8 years ago, she began working with the Survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and noted how government largely ignored Survivors valuable testimony. Breeda has worked with many on the island of Ireland, eager to ensure that the survivor narrative, speaking truth to power, rises above the din of conjecture in State commissioned publications. Breeda collaborates with many campaigners and activists and is also the PRO of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home Alliance.
Eunan is an Adoptee, Activist and Advocate. He was adopted from the Marianvale Mother & Baby/Magdalen Institution in Newry, County Down. He only became aware of his adoption circumstances in 2016; this life-changing revelation had a profound impact on Eunan and his family. He subsequently discovered that the Institution in question was renowned for a catalogue of Human Rights abuses and crimes. In seeking to establish his origins, identity and heritage, he discovered that the system is designed to obstruct and discourage the discovery of family roots and medical genesis. Eunan has assisted other families in their quest for identity whilst providing valuable commentary on State and Religious abdication of responsibilities. Eunan collaborates with and is befriended with many campaigners and activists, along with those affected in different parts of the world. Eunan also works with Civil Society Organisations.
Frank is a Human Rights & Consumer Activist and Media Commentator. For the last 12 years, he has been investigating his own family ‘secret’ and discovered that his Father had been born out of wedlock and that his Grandmother had been incarcerated for 42 years within the Magdalen Laundry system. Frank’s Father spent the first 5 years of his life within the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, being subsequently boarded out to a good family. Frank’s journey has provided much joy and many tears, but it is the striking irritation from religious orders and the inability of government to answer simple correspondence that presents another side to his investigations, that the establishment in Irish Society is fearful of answering to the injustices of the past. Frank considers that the the Children of the Scaradh are now coming home! Frank works collaboratively with many campaigners and activists in this ‘Magdalen’ story.
Media Interview Availability:
Breeda, Eunan & Frank are available for interview. Please contact Frank Brehany via email@example.com or via his Twitter handle: @ConsumerFrank, setting out your needs and requirements.