Thursday 2 February 2012

1926 Census still moving in the right direction

Last November Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, indicated in the Dail that it was his intention to have the [1926] census returns digitised and made available on-line as a 1916 centenary project.

Now, in a reply to a recent Parliamentary Question, Deenihan has confirmed that he is progressing with his plans to allow access to data from the 1926 Irish census.

His written response said: “The Programme for Government contains a commitment to enable the publication of the 1926 Census. The project requires two principal components to be addressed. The first is the legal necessity to change the relevant legislation to permit publication of the Census before the expiry of the statutory 100 year period, while respecting certain rights. The second is the technical process whereby the material can be converted from the paper records to a searchable electronic database in a cost-effective fashion. Legal advice has been obtained in relation to the legislative changes and consultation with bodies involved is in progress. Possible technical approaches are also currently being considered, as are their resource implications.”

Steven Smyrl of CIGO, the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations, which has long campaigned for the early release of the census, described the Minister’s commitment to this project as 'terrific'.

"We first raised it with him a few weeks before the 2011 general election and he immediately saw the project’s potential and promised to do all he could to get it off the ground. This received a real fillip when, through CIGO’s lobbying, the project was included in the post-election Programme for Government. When Deenihan was then made Culture Minister we realised that our long campaigning was finally about to pay off!”

But just to keep the pressure on, make sure to sign CIGO's petition!

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