I am reliably informed of a significant development coming in the second half of the year for family historians using the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
Two pieces of news that I reported on at the end of March (see blogpost) are relevant: the abolition of the old Search Fee for users of GRONI's Search Room, and GRONI's move from its city centre offices to Stranmillis, in Belfast's southern suburbs.
While inevitably happy about the cost-cutting new tariff, researchers are not so happy about the distance between the two repositories when they have to pack up their work at one location in order to travel to the other site to continue their research.
A solution has been found. Dedicated computer terminals are to be set up at PRONI to deliver the full GRONI Search Room database from Titanic Boulevard. When I say the full GRONI Search Room database I mean not only the historical bmds currently online (using the 100-75-50 year rule of access), but the same records currently available on screen at the GRONI Search Room's (see details at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/introduction-groni-and-its-records).
Apparently, the abolition of the search fee was the strategic first step towards achieving this solution. PRONI is set up on a free-to-access basis, so could not charge researchers for access. The new arrangement allows researchers to access and search GRONI's online facility at PRONI without any upfront charge; if researchers then choose to buy credits for enhanced or full views of certificates, they will be able to do so online, direct to GRONI.
It may be a few months before the terminals are up and running, but they will certainly be operational before GRONI's late-2016 move to Stranmillis.
(Thanks to Massey & King Probate Genealogists for the initial tip-off.)