You may well have read John Grenham's column in the Irish Times this week in which he paints a pretty pessimistic view of the likelihood of the 1926 Census arriving any time soon (or even before 1927). Regular readers of Irish Genealogy News will know that I've been advocating a lowering of expectations of an early release, but still urging readers to campaign like billy-oh in the hope of getting the promised result... yes, the result promised in the Programme for Government. See previous blogpost.
You'll also know that the last response to a campaign letter came from Paul Kehoe T.D., Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach with special responsibility for the CSO. It was uncomfortably negative, and pretty much slammed the door of the Central Statistics Office in our faces.
Well, the latest response to a campaign letter to come my way has arrived via genealogist Stuart McGee who wrote to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG). The reply from the Minister's Office acknowledges the commitment in the Programme for Government and says that a Working Group, comprising officials from the DAHG, the National Archives of Ireland and the Central Statistic Office (CSO) has met to consider how best to enable publication of the 1926 Census records.
It goes on to say:
'Under current legislation (the Statistics Act 1993), census data must be withheld for 100 years. If the records were to be released before the expiry of 100 years, a change in legislation would be required to allow for the early release. Following discussions with the CSO, the Minister is of the opinion that the extensive preparatory work required to facilitate the release of the data into the public domain can commence in advance of the legal restriction being addressed. The CSO and the National Archives have agreed to facilitate the preparatory work on the Census records.
'The 1926 Census Working Group has agreed an enabling strategy which the Minister will shortly bring to Government.'
So most of this is the just the same old, same old, presented with a waft of positivity.
The final sentence is, compared with Paul Kehoe's missive, almost upbeat. Or at least the word 'shortly' inplies we should expect some developments in the near future.
I'll not be holding my breath.