Tuesday, 22 May 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The present system of manuscript registers of birth, deaths and marriages, which provides the basis for the civil registration system, was established in the mid 19th century. This system is restrictive when compared to a modern computer assisted system. A registrar only register events which occur within his or her district and can only issue certificates when he or she has possession of the particular register.
My Department, the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and the General Register Office are working on a major programme to modernise the Civil Registration Ser vice. Funding of £7.3 million was approved by Government in 1999 for a programme which includes the reform of legislation, the design and development of new processes and procedures and the introduction of new technology. It is proposed to implement these changes in 2002. The new registration service will make full use of modern technology to register life events. The new system will improve access to registration data and provide for electronic sharing of data with Government offices and Departments who have a need for such information, thereby improving efficiency and reducing the need for applicants for services to provide certificates with each application. The new system will also improve customer services and provide local access to certified copies of registration records.
The Deputy will also be aware of the associated modernisation project through which the archival records of the General Register office and the associated indexes are being electronically scanned in Roscommon. This work involves the filming and scanning of 21 million register entries to provide a database of images of the pages and the direct scanning and conversion of the printed indexes, to provide a machine readable index. The process is strictly controlled to ensure accuracy and completeness.
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