Friday 12 July 2013

New website and email facilities coming from GRO

Responding to a query from UK-based genie Stuart McGee, the General Register Office of Ireland has revealed that its current website is to be scrapped and that customers can now receive research copies of birth, marriage and death certificates by email.

Anyone who has visited will know that the site is not only looking a tad faded, it is also many years out of date. Many of its pages have not been updated since the GRO moved to Roscommon in 2005.

Since then, responsibility for the General Register Office has shifted from the Ministry of Health to the Minister for Social Protection. (This is where it starts to get confusing... the Health Service Executive runs the Civil Registration Service and, an online service for the purchase of 'legal quality' bmd certs.) So GROIreland's new online presence will be aligned with the Department of Social Protection's website. This, confirms the GRO's Bernadette Smith, will allow GROIreland to avail of modern infrastructure and to provide a more accessible and user-friendly service.

"The content currently on the GRO website, including the history, is also being reviewed in advance of the proposed transfer and will therefore be up-to-date and capable of being maintained into the future."

Among the expected updates is a facility for genealogists to order and receive their 'research copies' by email.

Bernadette: "We have recently introduced [an email] facility on a pilot basis and we're now extending it to customers who indicate email as their preferred method of issue. This option will also be offered on the new form, when the website is fully updated."

As to timing, the GRO's web presence should migrate to its new platform this year.

Another issue of burning interest to family historians is the mooted upload of the GRO's bmd indexes. Bernadette confirms that "consideration is being given to making the index data relating to GRO registers available for online searching" but tells me that this is unconnected to the current upgrade and migration of the GROIreland site. If and when the indexes go online, they will appear on – the Department of Heritage, Arts and the Gaeltacht.

(With thanks to both Stuart McGee and Bernadette Smith.)