Header Item Credit Unions (Continued)
 Header Item Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015: Second Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 869 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris] The Central Bank considered the liquidator's report in the context of whether any further action might be required and has concluded that no further regulatory action is required. The report will inform regulatory decisions of the Registrar of Credit Unions concerning those involved in the future.

On the current position regarding ownership of Newbridge Credit Union, as Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works I can tell the Deputy that the liquidator has signed contracts with the OPW to purchase the former premises of Newbridge Credit Union. This sale is expected to be completed formally within the first quarter of this year. As the Deputy rightly said, the building will provide important Intreo facilities in Newbridge which are about much more than the traditional dole office. Intreo is about getting people back to work. It is an important community facility.

In regard to the Deputy's approaches to the Tánaiste and me about community use of spare capacity within the building, my officials in the OPW and officials in the Department of Social Protection are meeting on that matter. Both Departments are positively disposed to examining ways the community can use any additional capacity once the Intreo services have been established.

Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Prior to the adjournment of the debate I was speaking about the issue of sibling treatment and was commending to the Minister a revisitation of the arrangements that would allow for treatment resulting in a sibling child from an anonymous donor for a period of three years from enactment, which is what the legislation as currently drafted allows for. However, if the patient has recently become or is about to become pregnant, she would have a particularly small window of opportunity for an attempt at a second child. Having a second child would be the wish of many who are taking any of the options we have already addressed. I am suggesting that it would be reasonable to allow for three years from the birth of the first child or three years from the date of enactment of this legislation, whichever of the two periods is longer. I think that is reasonable. I hope that the Minister will give consideration to this suggestion in advance of Committee Stage and to the other suggestions I made earlier. Provision for a second child in these circumstances would allow patients a longer timeframe to make an attempt at a second child, with up to approximately 3.5 years between births rather than having to make the decision either to have two children within a three-year window, which in the circumstances is very narrow, or, as the case may be, not to have a sibling child at all.

I have been made aware of a couple who performed a DIY donor-assisted reproduction, DAHR, with sperm from a friend. They are disappointed that the spouse of the natural birth mother will not be automatically covered by the legislation. That is to say, the spouse of the birth mother will not qualify for guardianship of the child because the procedure did not take place in a designated DAHR facility. This is despite the fact that the spouse might be to all intents and purposes a live-in dad throughout the lifetime of the child's domicile with the mother and, in this case, the dad. If couples in cases like this go about the procurement in an ethical and informed manner, acquiring signed affidavits that show that the donor consents to the treatment and that all parties understand parenting roles, why should they be excluded? In my view, this is a further matter that merits being addressed. I am sure we would be surprised by the number of people in this situation. Again, I encourage the most inclusive approach before finalisation of this legislation and its enactment. I appreciate that DAHR facilities have robust methods to get fully informed consent and to ensure all parties are kept up to date. However, is there any reason this could not occur outside such a facility in cases where the aid, assistance and support of a clinician and appropriate legal advice is sought? The Minister might address that question in her concluding remarks.

Some commentators have criticised the fact that this Bill allows for egg and sperm donation, which is their right. Aside from the concerns I have outlined above and the others mentioned yesterday by my colleagues, Deputies Mac Lochlainn and McLellan, I think this Bill is an important change in the recognition of families throughout the State. I believe it will go a long way in furthering the rights of members of families who are currently anonymous before the law. More important, it protects the rights of an individual conceived as a result of DAHR to knowledge of their genetic lineage.

Ar an iomlán, cuirim fáilte roimh an Bhille seo. Is gá soiléiriú a fháil ar roinnt pointí le cinntiú nach sáraíonn an Bille seo cearta daoine agus teaghlaigh mar atá. Anuas ar sin, is gá dúinn cuimhneamh nach leor an Bille seo amháin chun cearta leanaí agus teaghlaigh a chosaint. Is gá seirbhísí a bheith maoinithe mar is ceart le cinntiú go bhfuil an chosaint is fearr ar fáil do leanaí agus do theaghlaigh.

I commend the Minister on the introduction of this legislation and hope that she will take on board some of the suggestions I have made. I wish the legislation a speedy passage.

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