ICSWA or the Irish Council of Social Workers in Adoption was originally known as the Central Council of Catholic Adoption Societies. Its first meeting was held on 23rd November 1961 in the Children’s Hospital in Temple St. in Dublin. Monsigneur Barrett who had been highly involved behind the scenes when the Irish Catholic hierarchy were discussing the introduction of legal adoption, chaired the initial meeting.

The purpose of the new organisation was:

1. To provide a way for representatives of the registered Catholic Adoption Societies to meet.
2. Exchange their experiences and discuss common problems.
3. Assist the Societies in achieving and maintaining a common high standard of work.
4. To speak authoritatively on behalf of the Societies in negotiations with the Adoption Board, and Departments of State and Local Authorities. 1.

In the years that followed, associate membership of the Central Council of Catholic Adoption Societies was opened to Health Boards doing adoption work and agencies of other denominations. These associate members did not have voting rights on Central Council matters. This differentiation between Catholic and other adoption agencies continued for several decades. However by the 1990’s membership of the organisation had become pluralist in nature and a decision was taken by the members to change the name to Central Council of Irish Adoption Agencies to reflect that fact. Before any change could be made the matter had to be ratified by the Catholic Bishops who were responsible for renewal of the organisation’s constitution. At a general meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference held in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth in Kildare in March 1996 the bishops approved the name change.

The work of the C.I.A.A developed over time to provide training days for adoption practitioners. Members represented adoption agencies in discussion with state departments at times of proposed change of adoption legislation. In 2009 the C.I.A.A published An Ethical Framework for Adoption in Ireland and over the years the organisation has made a number of submissions to government bodies to influence legislation and adoption practice.

At the time of the setting up of the Central Council of Catholic Adoption Agencies, adoption services were predominantly provided by 19 voluntary adoption agencies with the various Health Boards providing a minimal service.
Due to new regulations and a lack of funding almost all of these agencies have closed over the years and, with the establishment of TUSLA Child and Family Agency, adoption services are now provided under its umbrella at a local level.
It was therefore felt that the name of the organisation at that time, namely the Council of Irish Adoption Agencies, no longer represented the majority of its membership and it was agreed that it should become known as the Irish Council of Social Workers in Adoption or ICSWA.
A launch to mark the change in name and the organisation’s new identity took place on Wednesday 28th September 2022 in the Ashling Hotel in Dublin. This launch was very timely as this event was only a few days before the establishment of the new Information and Tracing Act 2022 giving adopted persons a legal right to their original birth certificates. Something for which the organisation had been campaigning since the early1980’s. Members have now embarked on a transition phase where the adoption services they have been providing for many years have been put on a legal footing.



Executive Committee

Chairperson - Hazel Douglas
Main Administrator
- Laura Shine (Tulsa)
- Niamh Holland (Tusla)
- Eileen Browne (Tusla)


Anne Marie Shier (TUD)
Therese McCaffrey (Tusla)
Liz Ruane (Tusla)
Naomi Roche (Pact)
Sarah Corby (Barandos)
Aileen Walsh O’Reilly (Helping Hands)
Aine Fitzgerald (Tusla)
Anna Daly (Tusla)
Karen Doogan (Tusla)
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