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Question

224. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when all sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 will be enacted; the timeframe for full enactment; his views on whether there are barriers impinging on the rights of same-sex married partners and their children prior to enactment of all sections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8332/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 was enacted on 6 April 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions Order) 2016 (S.I. No. 12 of 2016) commenced the bulk of the Act with effect from 18 January 2016.  That Commencement Order brought provisions of Parts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 and 13 of the Act into operation.  The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 355 of 2017) commenced part of section 47(c) of the Act with effect from 31 July 2017 and the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 474 of 2017) commenced provisions of the Act relating to adoption by civil partners and cohabiting couples with effect from 2 November 2017.
Part 10 of the Act, which amended the Passports Act 2008, was commenced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1 July 2015.
Part 11 of the Act, which related to adoption, was not commenced and was repealed by section 2(2) of the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, which came into operation on 19 October 2017, as provided for by the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 (Commencement) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 443 of 2017). The provisions in Part 11 have been incorporated into the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, for which the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is responsible.
Section 177 of the Act, which amended section 2 of the Adoptive Leave Act 1995, has not yet been commenced due to technical issues, which have now been resolved. The Department is currently reviewing the section to ensure that there are no further outstanding issues. It is expected that the section will be commenced in due course.
Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provide for parentage through donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR).  I understand that the "barriers" the Deputy is referring to are centred around the issue of the recognition of parentage for same-sex couples and their children which is dealt with under Part 2 of the Act.  The Minister for Health has responsibility for commencement of Parts 2 and 3 of the Act.
Where a couple have a child through assisted human reproduction treatment which took place prior to the commencement of these provisions and other than in accordance with them, the social parent will not be recorded on the child's birth certificate from the outset, as parentage continues to be assigned under current law. However, when Parts 2 and 3 of the Act are brought into force by the Minister for Health, and depending on the particular circumstances, it may be possible for couples to seek a declaration under section 21 of the Act that the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the birth mother is the other parent of the child (with all of the parental responsibilities that entails), and ultimately to have a new birth certificate issued reflecting that legal parentage.
Other provisions of the Act which relate to DAHR have not yet been commenced as they are linked to Parts 2 and 3.  The commencement of the provisions of the Act which are related to Parts 2 and 3 will be co-ordinated with the commencement of those Parts by the Minister for Health.
Part 9 of the Act provides for a number of amendments to the Civil Registration Act 2004.  No provision of Part 9 has yet been commenced.  Some sections cannot be commenced until Parts 2 and 3 are brought into operation by the Minister for Health.  Other sections are dependent on provisions of the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 being commenced and my Department is liaising with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to scheduling the commencement of these sections.