Changes to legislation aim to guarantee all existing adoption orders and secure the position of the child within the adoptive family.

The changes to the adoption law come following a Supreme Court decision to return a six year old adopted boy to his natural parents.

The new legislation covers will be applied to over twenty thousand adopted children since the introduction of the 1952 Adoption Act.

Minister for Justice Patrick Cooney said that legislation was required to ensure that other adoption orders would not be invalidated on similar grounds to the Supreme Court's decision.

Attorney General Declan Costello says that in relation to the Supreme Court decision, defective procedures may have been followed.

People can rest assured that the adoption orders which have been made in the past will be valid orders, that they can’t be challenged in the court.

Declan Costello says that the new legislation does not interfere with the Supreme Court ruling but rather is intended to make sure that past adoption orders are valid. The objective of the new legislation is to allay the fears of adopted children and adoptive parents. He describes the rights of natural parents and adoptive parents as complex. He refers to the constitution which identifies the rights of the family as an institution and the rights of parents in relation to the education of their children.

It’s a question of what’s embraced in the concept of the family. Have children got rights independently of parents in the rights that are given to the family unit?

The Attorney General does not believe is correct to say that children themselves have no rights as they are part of the family unit. He describes the situation as a difficult legal problem and It is possible that conflict may arise over different rights within the constitution.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 June 1976. The reporter is Ronnie Turner.