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Written Answers - Adoption Legislation

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 107.  Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the date on which she will publish legislation regarding adoption; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23964/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I, and officials of my Department, are continuing a substantial engagement with the Attorney General and her officials to progress the Government’s commitment to a referendum to amend the Constitution to ensure that children’s rights are strenghtened along the lines recommended by the Joint Committee on Children and the Constitution (JCCAC). The immediate focus of this engagement is the preparation of a draft wording to be put to the people for consideration during the current year. The process is strongly focused on ensuring that the proposed wording of the Constitutional amendment reflects the deliberations and conclusions of the Joint Committee and the commitment in the Programme for Government.

In parallel with bringing forward the proposed constitutional change in favour of children’s right, there is a need to provide clarity around related proposals for legislative change regarding adoption. Work is ongoing in this regard and the matter has been the subject of comprehensive legal and administrative analysis including by officials of my Department. Consideration of the policy issues which will arise from the proposed amendment to the Constitution in relation adoption is at an advanced stage. Draft Heads of Bill and the General Scheme will reflect the policy in this area. One of the policy objectives of the proposed legislation is to provide for the situation of children of marriage who remain in long term foster care without the option of adoption. Some of these children are in need of a permanent alternative family and adoption [327]would be in their best interests. It is intended to publish the draft legislation on adoption policy at the same time as the draft wording for the proposed amendment to the Constitution.

The Referendum on Children’s Rights is a Programme for Government priority. The Government is satisfied that the nature of this referendum is such that it will be a stand-alone matter, to allow for fullest attention and engagement by the public in the interests of children. As already indicated, I intend to be in a position to seek approval from Government for the proposed wording with a view to holding the referendum this year.


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