Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (598)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

712 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of files for 1973 in his Department released to the National Archives under the 30 year rule; the number withheld; and the subject matter of the files withheld. [1586/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

Before the Department can transfer its records to the National Archives, it must update its file tracking system and log all holdings, active and inactive onto a database. This work commenced in September 2003 and is ongoing at present. It is due to be completed by the end of 2004. However, the Department has been in contact with the National Archives since mid-2003 with a view to transferring all relevant outstanding records as soon as possible.

It is estimated that the Department would have in the region of 30,000 files covering a wide range of health and personal social services that may be suitable for release to the National Archives under the 30 year rule.

Files that would be withheld would be those files that are in current use, especially those files that are required for various tribunals, inquiries and commissions. Files would also be withheld in relation to personal records in respect of persons who have been in the care of the State as children, for which the Department has a large number of requests under the Freedom of Information Acts. The Department is also undertaking the microfilming of files, which will enable the Department to address its responsibility under the National Archives Act by retaining the microfilm and releasing the actual file.