Referendum adoption claims are challenged

No campaigners invite Chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland to public debate

Claims by the Chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland that a ‘yes’ vote in the marriage referendum will have no impact on adoption in Ireland have been challenged by ‘no’ campaigners.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live, Geoffrey Shannon, who is also a special rapporteur on child protection, denied that the referendum would affect Ireland’s adoption process, and said that as “no one has a right to a child”, the child’s best interests are the key determinant in deciding whether someone is allowed to adopt. 

“If you’re a sole applicant, if you’re a married couple, if you’re a cohabiting couple, or a same-sex couple, what happens is you’re assessed and that assessment looks at your capacity to parent a child into adulthood,” he said, stating, “it is not concerned with gender or sexual orientation.”


Dr Tom Finegan, legal advisor to ‘no’ campaign group Mothers and Fathers Matter, said that in answering Ms Byrne’s question, Mr Shannon “totally sidestepped and evaded a point we’ve made all along that if the referendum is passed it would be constitutionally impossible for the Oireachtas to give a stated preference in law for a child to have a mother and a father. 

“This point holds not just for adoption but for surrogacy and donor-assisted artificial human reproduction,” he added, with the latter approaches likely to be “the main gateway through which same-sex married couples will seek to create children”.


Arguing that “the question Geoffrey was asked allowed him to give the impression that these issues aren’t in any way related to the referendum”, Dr Finegan said that it would be ideal if Mr Shannon would agree to a public debate on the issue, which would allow the ramifications of constitutional change on the adoption process to be properly addressed.

“The referendum will change the adoption process”, he told The Irish Catholic, “because it will evacuate from the considerations of a child’s best interests a child’s interest in having a mother and father.”

The principle of the child’s best interest being paramount would still apply, he said, but it would be “a different type of best interest”.