Statistics (Decade of Centenaries) Bill 2020: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Statistics Act 1993, in relation to the first census of the population of Ireland taken since the establishment of the State; to afford that census a special heritage status and to have such released to the public for historical, genealogical and other research as part of the National Decade of Centenaries commemorations.

This Bill has a very simple purpose, that is, to allow for the early digitisation and publication of the 1926 census returns by giving the census special heritage status as part of the Decade of Centenaries project. This would open the last large unpublished historical data sets of a very turbulent period of Irish history, illustrating to historians, genealogists, family members, the diaspora, statisticians, planners, etc., the 15 years before the fledgling Free State's first census. The census records would show the full effects of, for instance, the 1918 flu pandemic, which cost the lives of 25,000 in Ireland. The records capture information reflecting the societal effects of a very turbulent time from the Lockout of 1913; the founding of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan; the enlistment in the British Army of hundreds of thousands of Irishmen for the First World War, from 1914 to 1918, and the deaths of approximately 50,000 Irishmen in that war; the Easter Rising in 1916; internment; the release of prisoners; and the revival and rebirth of Sinn Féin and the IRA that paved the way for the 1918 general election victories and the extension of the franchise, including, for the first time, to women.  The digitisation of census records thus far by the National Archives has provided a wonderful, freely available national heritage resource that has also greatly increased the interest among Ireland's diaspora in their ancestral links to Ireland. Many of their forefathers left Ireland's shores in this era. 

Áfach, tá srian ar rochtain phoiblí ar thorthaí na ndaonáireamh a rinneadh ó bunaíodh an Stát in ainneoin gur seoid eolais faoi bhlianta luath an Stáit iad. Is léir go dtabharfaidh sonraí an chéad daonáireamh a rinne an Saorstát in 1926 radharc úr dúinn ar an tréimhse chorraitheach roimh a bhunú. In 1993, gheall an Rialtas go n-ísleofar an tréimhse cheilte a bhaineann le daonáirimh go 75 bliain, ach loic air ó thaobh an ghealltanais sin. Rinneadh an daonáireamh in 1926 ag barr an lagaithe eacnamaíochta agus na taoide imirce. Baineann tábhacht cultúrtha agus teangeolaíochta ar leith leis an tréimhse 15-bliain idir na daonáirimh in 1911 agus in 1926, sa mhéid go raibh na ceantair Ghaeltachta agus líon na gcainteoirí dúchasacha ag an am níos fairsinge ná mar atá inniu. B’fhéidir go mbeidh léiriú níos soiléire againn ar an meath sin nuair a dhéanfar comparáid idir na figiúirí daonáirimh in 1911 agus in 1926.

This Bill seeks to honour the men and women of our revolutionary era in a unique and very tangible manner whereby we can all share, learn and connect with our heritage as we continue to mark and commemorate the revolutionary centenaries of 1913 to 1923. The release of the 1926 census would provide a very significant boost to Irish historical research, genealogy and family history research, and, indeed, Irish tourism generally. The addition of the 1926 census results to the online resources made available to date by the State, including the indices to the records of the General Register Office, the births, marriages and deaths records on www.irishgenealogy.ie, the military archive records and the military service pensions records, and the uploading of the microfilm copies of the Roman Catholic Church parish registers held at the National Library of Ireland to that library's website, clearly demonstrate the importance of this type of genealogical heritage to our people at home and to the many millions of people of Irish ancestry overseas.

Táim ag tnúth le cead a fháil don Dara Chéim den Bhille. Tá súil agam go mbeidh an tAire sásta leis. Níl mórán airgid i gceist leis toisc go bhfuil an t-airgead le teacht amach anseo. Ní bheimid in ann daonáireamh a reáchtáil an bhliain seo chugainn. Cuireadh ar athló é. B'fhéidir go mbeidh an dream a bheadh gafa leis sin in ann digitiú a dhéanamh ar na taifid atá ann cheana féin. B'fheidir go mbeimis in ann é seo a dhéanamh mar chuid den chomóradh céad bliain agus go mbeadh sé mar legacy project den decade of commemorations, mar a luaigh mé níos luaithe.

Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Teachta. Is the Bill being opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.