Category : Joe O'Reilly
I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald, on her introduction of this Bill, which is complex but rational and workable legislation, and for being so progressive in carrying on the type of reforming work commenced by her predecessor, rather than leaving things as they are and taking the “cute” political option.
Like Deputy Ó Caoláin, I come from a part of the country where people tend to look at issues with a certain amount of pragmatism and rationale. We pride ourselves on that. I would like to dispel a few of the myths and distortions around this Bill. Many people do not appear to understand what is at issue, which has led to many popular myths around the legislation. It is known to many but not to all that 36% of children are born outside the traditional family model, 352,000 children are currently cared for by lone parents and only 233 children are currently being reared by same-sex couples. Let us be proportionate about this. It is also worth mentioning that these 233 children are being reared by same-sex couples irrespective of the effects of this legislation.
Adoption is a very complex and difficult process, and our provisions must fit with the Hague Convention. To obtain an assessment for a declaration of eligibility, an applicant must apply in the first instance to the HSE, which is a complex and rigorous process that lasts as long as seven years and includes interviews, group sessions and one-to-one sessions. To put this in perspective, between January and September 2014 only 83 children were adopted in this country. Because of other progressive legislation, the number of children available for adoption has radically decreased. Also, foreign adoptions must comply with Irish criteria for eligibility. Foreign adoption is an expensive process that is often fraught with delays. It is important to put that background information on the record.