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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Fine Gael, CIGO, and the 1926 Census

The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) has today seen its long running campaign to gain access to the 1926 census of Ireland moving a step closer to a successful conclusion.

In its General Election Manifesto, Fine Gael, one of Ireland's major political parties, said: "Genealogy Tourism: Fine Gael will examine the feasibility of releasing the 1926 census to stimulate genealogy tourism.” 

Following an article in The Irish Times in January by CIGO's Executive Liaison Officer Steven Smyrl,  CIGO was invited to indepth discussions with Jimmy Deenihan TD, Fine Gael's spokesman on Tourism, Culture and Sport, about the tourism potential of the 1926 census.

The data recorded in 1926 was relatively brief. The following information was noted for each individual: full name, age, sex, religion, literacy level, occupation, marital status, place of birth, relationship to head of household and any infirmities. Duration of marriage and number of children born were also recorded, where relevant.

Technologies rolled out over the past decade allow even huge collections of records to be digitised and indexed with ease and comparatively little cost. Sensitive data can also be easily redacted so access to data about people born less than 100 years ago can simply be restricted or withheld. CIGO concurs with Fine Gael that redaction of such data could be the solution necessary to prompt the early release of the 1926 census. In such a format, these census records could be released, fully digitised, by next year.

Fine Gael is doing well in election polls. Last weekend's Sunday Business Post poll suggested the party could even be elected to govern without recourse to a coalition.