Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Questions (216)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

216. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Defence the position in regard to the military service pensions archive project; when he expects that the public might have access to these records; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33636/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Military Service Pensions Archive project is part of the Government Centenary Commemorative Programme. Approximately 300,000 files relating to the period from Easter Week 1916 through the War of Independence and Civil War comprise this collection. The files relate mainly to the applications by individuals and/ or their dependants for the award of pension and gratuities for veterans who served as members of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army, the Hibernian Rifles, the Irish Republican Army, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, the National Army on active service or who were casualties or wounded while on duty during the period from April and May 1916 through to 30 September 1923. The membership records of these organisations (less that of the National Army) as on 11 July 1921 and 1 July 1922 will also be released along with selected administration files and material to put the entire collection in context. This is a significant element of the collection.

No date has been set yet for the launch of the inaugural release, which is web-based and concentrated on 1916 participants. However, arrangements for the launch are under active consideration. The first release contains files relating to in excess of 3,000 individuals (2,397 of these individuals are veterans of Easter Week 1916) and comprising some 452,000 scanned images giving background and context to the individual applications. Databasing and digitising of these files is complete. Testing of the website is nearing completion.

A phased release of material into the public domain is planned with regular releases relating to the War of Independence and Civil War occurring in the run up to 2016. Subsequent releases will have a web element but it is important to note that not all files will be available online. Physical visits to the Military Archives will be required to see the full material. It is envisaged that the provision of accommodation for people wishing to access the Military Archives records and for the storage of the archives will be progressed further under the Government Centenary Commemoration programme.