An advisor to the Irish Government on child protection has expressed his 'profound concern' that failing to legislate in the area of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) may result in children's rights being violated.
The Irish Times reports that Geoffrey Shannon warned that in the absence of new legislation, children born through international surrogacy arrangements may find themselves without a passport or not recognised as Irish citizens.
'There are huge vulnerabilities in not knowing your status in a country. Unless we set this out clearly, then it simply can't be in the best interests of any child and is a breach of virtually every international instrument that I know', he said.
Shannon added concerns that an absence of procedures similar to those used during the adoption vetting process could leave few safeguards against children born through surrogacy being parented by unsuitable people.
IVF is not provided by the public health service in Ireland but private clinics are permitted to offer the service. There is currently no legal framework to regulate ART but guidelines issued by the Irish Medical Council set out the conditions under which a doctor may provide such services.
A special commission established by the then Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin, recommended in 2005 that the Oireachtas – the Irish parliament – should pass legislation to establish a regulatory body to regulate ART services in the country.
However, the Irish Times reports that documents obtained under freedom of information requests indicate that expected legislative proposals may be pushed back. The documents suggest the Irish Government only has funds for either introducing legislation on ART or abortion. But the newspaper quoted a spokesman for the Minister of Health, Mr James Reilly, who insisted legislation for ART remained a 'priority issue'.