The presentation of CIGO's 2012 Award for Excellence in Genealogy was made yesterday to Northern Ireland’s General Registrar, Dr Norman Caven. The formalities were conducted by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.
CIGO) gives out an annual award which recognises significant achievements in, and relating to, Irish Genealogy. Recipients of this award must excel in a number of categories including provision of physical facilities, preservation of archives and innovation in access to genealogical records and data.
Sammy Wilson said: 'I am pleased to be able to present the award to Dr Caven and his staff in recognition of the hard work undertaken in bringing the General Register Office of Northern Ireland through a modernisation programme of reform. The benefits of this modernisation will provide a first class service to the people of Northern Ireland when undertaking family history and genealogy research.
'As we all move forward in this digital era it is important that government services keep up to date and meet the demand and expectations of our customers. Through this modernisation programme there has been significant improvement in the research facilities available at GRONI. with a new and modern Public Search Room facilitating up to 22 researchers at any one time.
'The digitisation of eight million paper records has allowed for new and more informative indexes to be created. Together with the improved facilities those researching their family history or those researching genealogy will no longer have to endure a lengthy wait – the new computerised records will enable faster, more accurate information enabling the identification of the correct registration.'
The programme of modernisation to public records will continue with the second phase to facilitate online access to historical birth, death and marriage records.
I understand that the 'full online access' project is still on schedule for the end of 2013. Of course, draft timetables are only drafts, but there is a certain level of confidence among the project team that this can be achieved. UPDATE 13 March 2013: Completion expected by end November 2013.
This confidence was given an extra boost at the beginning of this week when legislation was passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly to allow images of the historical bmd certificates to be viewed by the public. Until now, the public were allowed to view the indexes and could order copies of certificates, but they have not been allowed to view images of the certificates. Thankfully, this issue has been resolved in good time and will not cause any last minute delay to the project's completion.