Tuesday, 8 April 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
258. Ms Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children the provisions that have been made in the GRO modernisation project to enable adopted people to be able to research the birth, death and marriage records specifically relating to their original family histories as is enjoyed by all other citizens and foreign visitors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9575/03]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The administration of the registration system is statutorily a matter for An tÁrd-Chlaraitheoir, Registrar-General; of Births, Deaths and Marriages and for registrars who operate under his general direction.
The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002 provides for the creation of an electronic database of historical paper based records, and electronic searching of records. The search process under the new system is based on the inclusion of a minimum amount of information. This information must include either the surname of the child, or the name of a parent. With regard to adopted people who may not possess the minimum information required to access the details of their birth record, the Government has recently approved wide ranging consultation on all aspects of legislation in relation to adoption.
A working document, which will set out a number of issues for consideration, will be published as soon as possible. Written submissions will be invited. These will be followed by an oral consultation. An independent legal expert, after examining all the various submissions, will develop the working document.
This consultation process is to be short and highly focused. The intention is that it will be finalised by July. It is expected to result in workable proposals to bring to Government, which will lead to a new, modern and appropriate legislative framework for adoption, including provisions relating to access to birth records by people who were adopted.
259. Ms Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children the expected date for the full implementation of the GRO modernisation project; the costs to date of implementing the project and the estimated total cost when it has been fully implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9576/03]
The cost of the introduction of new information systems, to facilitate the electronic registration of vital events including births, stillbirths, deaths, marriages and adoptions and the electronic production of certificates to date is €9.15 million and the estimated additional investment cost to complete this work is €2 million. In addition the archival records held by the General Register Office and the associated indexes are being converted to an electronic format in a separate project in Roscommon. The cost of this  work to date is €8.76 million and the anticipated additional cost to complete the capture of the records is estimated as €2.3 million.
The legal changes necessary to enable the direct electronic registration of births and deaths and the holding of birth, death and marriage records in an electronic format were included in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002. Further provisions, required to facilitate the wider modernisation of the registration service, are being included in a new Civil Registration Bill, the drafting of which is currently being finalised.
The implementation of a modern civil registration service is at the heart of providing better public services to citizens through the Government's modernisation programme. It is a key building block underpinning the integration of public service delivery and e-Government objectives of providing more convenient access to services. The new service will facilitate the sharing of information between Government agencies. Future registration of vital events will include a personal public service number, PPS No., which will be used as a unique customer reference number by public service providers, thereby facilitating opportunities for the streamlining the provision of services from other Departments and public service organisations, as appropriate.
The new system has been successfully piloted during December 2002 to January 2003 and it is planned that the roll-out of the system to offices throughout the country will begin in June 2003 and should be completed by the end of the year.
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