Thursday, May 7, 2009

Adoption issue ...fizzles in gutless Seanad

In a follow up to my post on the issues of adoption between Ireland and Russia and Vietnam (here) - and a large number of responses I received to it - yesterday there was a debate on the issue at the Seanad, the transcript of which is available here.

Given that Seanad site provides collapsed entries for each statement on the issue and since the debate took place in the context of the debate on the order of business (so the adoption issue is mixed within other statements), here are the parts of the debate that relate to the topic. My quick analysis of what happened follows this copy of the Seanad record.

Emphasis is mine, throughout.

Senator John Hanafin: I raise the issue of adoptions from Russia and Vietnam. In particular, I am cognisant that the difficulty that has arisen could be ameliorated through serious bilateral negotiations, notwithstanding the fact that all organisations, including the Health Service Executive, have limitations. Whereas normal criteria are applied prior to adoption, I understand post-placement requests have become extremely vigorous. If a little understanding were shown, it could help the HSE and put the matter in context..

[Senator Hanafin subsequently votes against a proposal to bring in Minister Barry Andrews for questions on the issue that he so passionately supports in this statement]

Senator Ivana Bacik: It is important to debate the treatment of children today. It is extraordinary that this Government has time to legislate for an outdated and dangerous offence of blasphemous libel--- and yet no time, apparently, to ensure the impasse between the HSE and the Ombudsman for Children is resolved and ensure the bilateral agreements for adoptions in Vietnam and Russia are resolved.

[Senator Bacik subsequently votes in favour of a proposal to bring in Minister Barry Andrews for questions on the issue]

Senator Mary M. White: Like my colleagues, I call on the Leader to invite the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Mary Harney, to come in and explain the difficulties faced by the Ombudsman for Children, Ms Emily Logan, which led to her suspending her investigation into the HSE’s handling of the child protection audit of Catholic Church dioceses. The HSE should be absolutely transparent as a public body and should be forced to co-operate fully with the Ombudsman’s investigation...

When the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Barry Andrews, was here to discuss the Adoption Bill he was exemplary in his understanding and comprehension of the legislation. I remember my colleagues on the other side of the House praised him for his dedication and understanding. It is critical we get to grips with the situation regarding adoptions in Russia and Vietnam. When I spoke on the Bill I said we must have compassion for the parents who are waiting to adopt children and for the children who are aching to be brought into a loving family...

[Senator White subsequently votes against a proposal to bring in Minister Barry Andrews for questions on the issue that she so passionately supports in her statement]

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames: I am pleased there is support on both sides of the House for an urgent clarification by the Minister of State with responsibility for children, Deputy Barry Andrews, on the adoption crisis currently being experienced by families in this State. As an adoptive parent, I know what it is like to go through the process of adopting a child. As we speak, the applications of 24 Irish couples are delayed in Hanoi because the Minister of State has dropped the ball.

In the first week of March, we debated the provisions of the Adoption Bill 2009 in this House. Senator Fitzgerald and I told the Minister of State it was critical that the bilateral agreement should be in place by 1 May. His failure to act is hurting families, including the 250 couples who are ready to submit their applications to the Vietnamese authorities. The Minister of State has also dropped the ball in regard to Russia. Irish couples successfully adopted 484 babies from Vietnam and Russia last year, accounting for 84% of inter-country adoptions. I implore Members on the other side of the House to come together us on this issue. I ask that the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, be invited to the Chamber this afternoon to update us on the situation. I cannot answer all the e-mails I am receiving from people asking questions about it.

[Senator Eames subsequently votes in favour of calling in Minister Barry Andrews for questions on the issue]

Senator Ciaran Cannon: I refer to the matter of adoption. I have much respect, as does Senator Norris, for the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Barry Andrews. He has brought fresh thinking and enthusiasm to that Ministry. However, the energy and effort invested in the attempt to get the agreement with Vietnam re-established took place far too late. It began in earnest in March and the Minister of State should have made it a priority. He should have gone to Vietnam to establish what the issues were and how they could be resolved.

[Senator Cannon subsequently votes for a proposal to bring in Minister Barry Andrews for questions on the issue]

Senator Nicky McFadden: I also support Senator Fitzgerald’s comments on the bilateral agreement. I agree with Senator Norris about the Minister of State, Deputy Andrews. He is a good, caring Minister of State but why in God’s name did he only start negotiations in earnest on 25 March? Why did he not go to Vietnam, as Senator Cannon said? We need to put ourselves in the position of the families who, after five years of negotiation, are going to get their packs, information and deposits back from Vietnam and such places. That will be heartbreaking and soul destroying for people, not to mention the effect it will have on the extended families. Given that 1,000 families are waiting in this situation, it is incumbent on us to sort it out as soon as possible.

[Senator McFadden subsequently votes for a proposal to bring in Minister Barry Andrews for questions on the issue]

An Cathaoirleach: Senator Fitzgerald has proposed an amendment to the Order of Business, “That a debate with the Minister for Health and Children on international adoptions, the suspension of the inquiry by the Ombudsman for Children and plans for child care places be taken today”. Is the amendment being pressed?

Tá: Bacik, Ivana. Bradford, Paul.Burke, Paddy.Buttimer, Jerry.Cannon, Ciaran.Coffey, Paudie. Coghlan, Paul. Cummins, Maurice. Fitzgerald, Frances. Hannigan, Dominic. Healy Eames, Fidelma. McFadden, Nicky. Mullen, Rónán. Norris, David. O’Toole, Joe. Prendergast, Phil. Quinn, Feargal. Regan, Eugene. Ross, Shane. Ryan, Brendan. Twomey, Liam.

Níl: Boyle, Dan. Brady, Martin. Butler, Larry. Callely, Ivor. Carty, John. Cassidy, Donie. Corrigan, Maria. Daly, Mark. Feeney, Geraldine. Glynn, Camillus. Hanafin, John. Keaveney, Cecilia. Leyden, Terry. MacSharry, Marc. McDonald, Lisa. Ó Domhnaill, Brian. Ó Murchú, Labhrás. O’Brien, Francis. O’Donovan, Denis. O’Malley, Fiona. O’Sullivan, Ned. Ormonde, Ann. Phelan, Kieran. Walsh, Jim. White, Mary M. Wilson, Diarmuid.

So motion was defeated... Why? Anyone?

I have no idea and I cannot define a single reason as to why would anyone oppose this, but what is clear to me is that there is some sort of a party-line closing of the ranks on the No side. Gutless and crass! And espacially so for those who spoke of their concern for children and adopting parents and then turned their backs on them in the vote!


Anonymous said...

Is this a concerted effort to drag this issue out until the recess - possibly in the hope that it will go away? As far as prospective parents are concerned we're going nowhere and will continue to put pressure on politicians on every side to sort this mess out.

As an aside - interesting that one of the "Nils" is someone who adopted from abroad. Party politics must be adhered to, at the expense of conscience perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your contiunued coverage of this important issue. It was great to have a list of the people who voted against the issue, thank you so much. Very interesting the fact that some of those had emailed us saying they supported us.

Anonymous said...

perhaps we need to "out" this adoptive parent who clearly has no guts and is a lobotomised robot....

Anonymous said...

Oh how I'd love to. I don't want to "out" this senator - purely for the obvious reason that the children deserve complete privacy (even if the gutless actions of the Senator do not).