News & Media

Dereliction of duty by the HSE in failing to address enormous 10-12 week delay in registering births in Dublin

24 November 2021

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Raising the huge delays families in Dublin are faced with in obtaining birth certs for their children, Dublin Central Senator Marie Sherlock said these delays are having a huge impact on many families who are unable to access social welfare supports including child benefit and GP cards.

Senator Sherlock said there has been a failure on the part of the HSE and the Department of Health to address the enormous backlog that currently exists in Dublin. 

Senator Sherlock said:

“There is a very real and serious problem with families being able to register the births of their children and get a birth cert for that child. A child born in Cork today will have their birth registered in 2-3 days. If that same child was born in Dublin, waiting for an appointment for registration is taking weeks and in some cases, months. I know of a child born four weeks ago and his parents could only get an appointment in Dublin on the 16th December. 

“There has been a failure on the part of the HSE and the Department of Health to address the enormous backlog that currently exists in Dublin. For the Dublin births, death and marriages office alone, there is a backlog of 500-600 cases for applications made online for the registration of a birth dating from prior to the ending of the online registration in September. It’s now November and we now have the combination of the online backlog and the enormous wait time to now get an appointment. This is simply unacceptable that families would be left waiting. 

“Waiting matters and it is leaving many families in hugely precarious positions financially. It means that families cannot access child benefit, they cannot access GP card and we know of some families who have had to pay a GP when their infant was sick. It means that in some cases, applications for housing supports get delayed because the new baby in the family does not have a PPS number.  

“This is putting huge strain on families at an already stressful time. If you are low income, single parent having to pay for everything yourself, or a family with good income and facing exorbitant rent as some many families, this wait matters. 

“Perhaps most unnerving for me was that families told me they were able to purchase birth cert from third parties. We conducted an experiment a month ago where with the permission of a family, I was able to pay online through an external company for a birth cert, the mother ordered through the civil registration office. I paid €46 and she paid €21.50. I got my order within six days and the mother is still waiting.

"Now what I understand is happening is that this company is simply able to go to a less busy civil registration office outside of Dublin and buy the birth cert and then sell it onto me. If a private company is able to dream this up, then why is the HSE not capable of this? 

“It’s telling that in his reply to me yesterday, Minister Peter Burke reiterated that he is aware of the delays, yet tried to pass this off as a “performance issue” on the part of the HSE, rather than outlining the ways in which the Department of Social Protection, a public facing department, plans to deal with this. It’s not good enough.

“Six months on from the IT hack on the HSE, it is simply not tolerable that nothing has been done to clear the backlog. It makes a mockery of the State and it is depriving supports from those who need it most.”