Wednesday, 23 February 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Ring: I raise this matter because a number of people who provide a service, the registration of births, deaths and marriages, feel very  aggrieved that this Government has done nothing about their salary scale. They get £170 per year which goes towards their office costs, including maintenance, heat, insurance, light and expenses such as postage. We talk about the Celtic tiger but they are not even getting the Celtic tail, which is wrong.
They get 68p for every item they register. It can be difficult for them to collect when they register a death because people may be very upset and distressed. In September 1997, the Government circulated a letter to all registrars telling them that a new fee structure was awaiting approval in the Department. Three years later, it still awaits that approval. They have that letter, which said it would be sanctioned by the Department, as proof.
The last increase was 13 years ago in 1987. Since then, the volume of work has become more complex with all the new legislation, including the Still Birth Registration Act, 1994, and the notification of intention to marry under the Family Law Act. This is all new work for them. It is fine for those who have a second job but many registrars do not have other jobs.
People in the community can identify the registrar. We want this service to remain in rural Ireland; we do not want another service to be taken away. I do not want the Minister or the Government to centralise this process in a large town, such as Castlebar or Ballina.
We ask for a just reward for doing a good job and that these people are paid a reasonable wage. It is 13 years since there was an increase and £170 for a year's work is not adequate. I ask the Minister of State, who has responsibility for this matter, to back date by at least three years whatever increase was agreed in that report. That should be done immediately so that these people are given a just and honest wage. They do a great job in the community and people know who they are. They fill in forms, assist people and provide offices in their houses and it is wrong that they do not get a just reward for so doing.
Dr. Moffatt: I thank Deputy Ring for raising this matter on the Adjournment. The administration of the registration system for births, deaths and marriages is primarily a matter for An t-Árd Chláraitheoir, the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and for local registrars who operate under his general direction.
Persons appointed registrars, who are not permanent and pensionable employees of the health boards, derive their income from fees or registrations and fees for the certification issued by them. These fees are set out in statutory instruments, including SI 278 of 1987, which sets out the principal fees for the registration of events and the issue of certificates.
In particular and limited circumstances, a registrar may issue a certificate which is compiled from an entry in a register in which amendments have been made and the fees for such certificates are set out in SI 234 of 1987. The fees are cur rently being reviewed and I hope this review will satisfy all concerned. I note the delay which Deputy Ring mentioned and will again bring it to the notice of the Minister.
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