Dáil Éireann - Volume 340 - 16 February, 1983

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Abolition of Illegitimacy.

[321] 18. Mr. De Rossa asked the Minister for Justice if he will state, having regard to the publication of the Report of the Law Reform Commission on Illegitimacy and the expressed commitments of the Fine Gael and Labour Parties to the abolition of illegitimacy, when he intends to introduce legislation to end this archaic and punitive discrimination against children who are born outside of marriage.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Mrs. Fennell): The Law Reform Commission's report on illegitimacy is at present under consideration by the Department of Justice as well as by some other Departments with an interest in some of the recommendations and the decisions of the Government will be announced as soon as possible.

The report contains in all 68 separate recommendations, many of which are of a fundamental and far-reaching nature. Indeed, some are extremely radical. I have already met a number of interested persons and organisations and have requested them to study the report carefully and make their views on it known to me. As I am anxious to introduce legislation to reform the law in this area at the earliest possible date I would ask those who have comments to make to send them to me without delay.

Mr. De Rossa: When the Minister says that she is anxious to introduce legislation can she say if she has a timetable in mind? When exactly does she intend introducing the legislation?

Mrs. Fennell: It is in the best interest of everybody that consultation take place. Therefore I would ask the Deputy if he, or any other Deputy to whom the report was circulated, has any ideas on the Law Reform Commission's proposals to let me have them. Certainly it would be my wish that the legislation would be introduced before the end of the year.

Mr. De Rossa: Has any decision been taken on the rights which the mother and father would be claiming in this situation, [322] whether it is intended to give equal rights to mother and father or a primary or protected right to the mother?

Mrs. Fennell: I would be reluctant to enter into a discussion on the findings of the report.

Miss Flaherty: Has the legislative proposal put forward by Young Fine Gael almost two years ago been presented to the Minister and is it being considered by her in the preparation of such legislation?

Mrs. Fennell: Certainly it is one of the recommendations that has been put to me.