Thursday, 23 May 2013

Civil registration indexes approved for online future

Wonderful news! The newly published Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 contains amendments to section 61 of the Civil Registration Act 2004 that will allow 'historical' Irish birth, marriage and death indexes to go online. At this stage it isn't known exactly what dates are to be included by the term 'historical', so we'll have to wait to find out what the cut-off year will be. Note, also, that these are the indexes, not the civil registration registers.

The announcement seems to promise that researchers will soon have online access to BMD indexes no matter where on the island their ancestors lived. The General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI) is in spitting distance of the end of its project to digitise its civil registration indexes (late autumn being the anticipated date of arrival online), and hopefully it won't be too much afterwards that event that those for the rest of Ireland join them.

The likely big difference between the two projects is that while GRONI's records will be made available on a pay-per-view basis, those from the General Records Office of Ireland will be made searchable on the Irish government's genealogy portal (irishgenealogy.ie) for free.

The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO), which has campaigned long and hard for these developments both north and south of the border, is delighted. Welcoming the announcement Steven Smyrl, Executive Liaison Officer for CIGO and current President of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland, said 'This is terrific news. CIGO has lobbied long and hard for better access to civil records for genealogists and historians.

'It doesn’t surprise me that this has finally happened under the current government. The two ministers involved in this decision, Jimmy Deenihan TD (Heritage Minister) and Joan Burton TD (Social Protection Minister) are both keen genealogists. In particular Mr Deenihan has proved to be fully supportive of the genealogy lobby since before he came to office in 2011.

'This move will make Irish genealogical research easier.'

Indeed it will.

See my follow-up explanation of why the GRO's indexes will be worth waiting for.