Written Answers. - Divorce Statistics.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

64 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach the progress, if any, made since September 1998 to compile and publish statistics on divorce in Ireland to an international standard; his views on the statement of the National Statistics Board in its Strategy for Statistics 1998-2002 that it finds the current situation regarding the compilation of statistics on divorce to be unsatisfactory; whether, in this regard, administrative difficulties between the courts and the Central Statistics Office alluded to by the board in its strategy statement have been resolved; his further views on whether it is necessary to amend the Statistics Act, 1993, to have the matters at issue resolved conclusively through arrangements between the CSO and the courts being put on a statutory footing; when statistics on divorce compiled to an international standard may be expected to be published; his further views on the statement of the National Statistics Board that there is a very important point of principle involved on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1841/99]

The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform provides quarterly and annual divorce statistics as classified by the Circuit Court Office to the Central Statistics Office. These statistics are a count of divorce applications and divorces granted. They do not provide information on the social aspects of divorce sought by the CSO. The compilation of court statistics must have due regard for the confidentiality of family law cases and any arrangements to extend the scope of such statistics will have to fully respect such confidentiality.

I have noted carefully the concerns of the National Statistics Board and I am in contact with the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform regarding the improvement of divorce statistics in the context of the modernisation of the General Register Office and in the context of the establishment of the new Courts Service Board. Further consultation is envisaged in the near future.

An amendment of the Statistics Act, 1993, would only be warranted in the context of a comprehensive solution involving the full consider ation of all of the issues involved including the implications for the court statistics and the registration of vital statistics systems.