This is where you’ll find the Guide and templates we’ve prepared to help you make requests to access information. We will update and fix any errors in these as quickly as possible and the latest version will always be available from this page.

If you have made a Subject Access Request to the Department you can give us some useful anonymous feedback. It doesn’t matter whether you used our Guide and templates or not, the more feedback we get the better we can customise later versions of these.

Further down the page there are links to other resources which you may find useful. If you think there’s something we should add to this section then just let us know.

15th June 2021: If you have applied to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth for your personal data and you have received a letter telling you your Health Data can only be provided to your doctor, Simon McGarr of McGarr Solicitors has developed a sample letter in response to these refusals.


MY DATA RIGHTS: A Guide to accessing records using the GDPR and Freedom of Information requests for people affected by the Mother and Baby Homes and adoption

This Guide focuses on two main types of information requests you can make.

Subject Access Requests can be made to any organisation in the public or private sector which may be processing your personal data. They are made under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), an important piece of European legislation which the Taoiseach, Attorney General and Minister for Children have all confirmed applies to the records which were gathered by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.

Freedom of Information Requests can only be made to public bodies and are made under the 2014 Freedom of Information Act.

This Guide includes information on

  • your rights under the GDPR
  • how to make a Subject Access Request
  • a template letter / email to use to make a Subject Access Request to the Department of Children
  • where to send your letter / email
  • making Freedom of Information requests
  • a template letter / email to use to make a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Children
  • where to send your letter / email
  • generic Subject Access Request and Freedom of Information request templates to use to make requests to other bodies
  •  a list of support services with contact details

The Guide is available both online and as a downloadable PDF. The online version will be updated more frequently than the PDF version.

PDF version Version 1.0, last updated 14th April 2021

Right-click the button below and select ‘Save file as’ to save the Guide to your device.

Left-click to open the Guide in a new tab.

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Template letters / emails

Last updated 14th April 2021

If you just want templates to use to make requests for information then these are for you. There are four templates which have been taken from our Guide above.

Each is available as a Word document and a plain text file.

A Subject Access Request template to send to the Department of Children

A Freedom of Information request template to send to the Department of Children

A more generic Subject Access Request template

This template uses the Child and Family Agency Tusla as an example but you could modify it appropriately and use it to send a Subject Access Request to any data controller you think may be holding records which contain your personal data.

A more generic Freedom of Information request template

As with he SAR template above, this FOI request template uses the Child and Family Agency Tusla as an example but you could modify it appropriately and use it to send an FOI request to any public body which is subject to FOI.

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We’d love to hear how we can improve our Guide in any way at all. We’re also very interested in any feedback you have about how the Department has responded to Subject Access Requests and Freedom of Information requests, which information it has not released to you, which exemptions it has applied and so on.

Click the links below to show the relevant form – they’re short and all of the questions are optional!

All of these questions are optional so don’t feel under any pressure to answer any of them!


Adoption Rights Alliance

Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) advocates for equal human and civil rights for those affected by the Irish adoption system. ARA operates a peer support network of 2,000 members, providing advocacy and practical advice to adopted people, natural parents, natural family members and others who were in informal care settings.

The Adoption Rights Alliance published an updated ‘Information Guide for Adopted People’ in 2019 which has informed and greatly assisted us in preparing our own guide.

Adoption Rights Alliance Information Guide for Adopted People (Direct link to PDF, opens in new tab)

The Clann Project

Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data (‘Clann’) is a joint initiative by Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and JFM Research (JFMR). The purpose of Clann is to help establish the truth of what happened to unmarried mothers and their children in 20th century Ireland.

Clann provided assistance to those who wished to give evidence to Ireland’s Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters by arranging free legal assistance for individuals to make full written statements.

As part of this process, Clann anonymised shared statements, and gathered documentary and archival materials, in order to make a public group report to (1) the Commission of Investigation, (2) the Irish Government, and (3) international human rights bodies.

The My Data Rights project “aims to assist survivors of Irish Industrial and Reformatory Schools to use the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to access their personal information, including records of the testimony that they gave to a previous inquiry or redress process.”

As part of the project a guide to making Data Subject Access Requests and a guide to making complaints to the Data Protection Commission were prepared, and both of these have bene used to inform our own guides.

You can read and download both of these guides on the website.

A Beginner's Guide to FOI

Prepared and maintained by Ken Foxe, director of Right To Know. We have used Ken’s guide to inform our own guidance on making FOI requests. Here’s how he describes it – 

This guide is designed to be read by members of the public or journalists looking to dip their toes into the world of Freedom of Information in Ireland.

It is not designed to be an authoritative guide to FOI, a history book, or an academic text … it is simply a useful introduction to the first steps, the language, and the things you need to know before you start.

It deliberately simplifies what are sometimes far more complicated issues.

Data Protection Commission

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) is the independent supervisory authority responsible for ensuring all organisations which process personal data In Ireland do so in accordance with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act.

The DPC has information on the Right of Access and the other data protection rights of individuals on its website.

The DPC handles complaints from individuals about the processing of their personal data by organisations.


All content on this site and in the downloadable guides is published under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) except if otherwise noted. You are free to copy and redistribute the material as long as you give appropriate credit, you do not use the material for commercial purposes, and you do not change the material.