The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations has campaigned long and hard for improvements at the 'coal face' of Irish genealogy: Dublin's General Register Office. Finally, there appears to be a glimmer of hope that pleas for change are finally being listening to! In the past couple of weeks the GRO has quietly introduced a change in policy for 'General Searches'. Hitherto, when a party of people came in to the GRO's Dublin-based Public Search Room each of the party was required to pay a General Search fee of €20.
Now, up to three persons can work on one General Search fee and can collectively take up to five years of indexes from the shelves at any one time. Further, each person on a General Search is now entitled to up to eight uncertified copies (photocopies) of register entries, rather than five, as had been the case until now. See the new search form below.
Whether these changes were made on foot of the criticism levelled at the GRO by the Irish Ombudsman in her recent report (Hidden History? The Law, the Archives and the General Register Office) is not clear. CIGO was one of the two main genealogy organisations which were asked to give evidence to the Ombudsman for inclusion in the report. However, it seems too much of a coincidence not to have played some part in this change.
It is still too early to say if these changes will have any marked effect on how researchers manage their time at the GRO.
While welcoming these changes Steven Smyrl, one of CIGO's two Executive Liaison Officers, said that "On a daily basis some researchers require more than eight photocopies while others require only one or two. A more efficient method of supplying photocopies of register entries would be to allow researchers to apply for up to three at a time and then, once they have been supplied, to be allowed to submit another three photocopy request slips and so on."
In the meantime, genealogists should keep in mind that they can also apply for uncertified copies (photocopies) from the local Dublin registration office on Lombard Street East, about 8 minutes walk from the GRO. Provision of uncertified copies (photocopies) at Lombard Street East was secured four years ago through successful lobbying by CIGO.