Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (141)

Finian McGrath

Question:

141. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the 1926 census (details supplied). [15059/14]

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Written answers (Question to Taoiseach)

The Censuses of Population carried out between 1926 and 1991 were undertaken under the 1926 Statistics Act which did not permit access to Census records at any time. The Statistics Act, 1993 repealed the 1926 and 1946 Statistics Acts, and provided for the release of census forms from these censuses 100 years after the date of the relevant Census.

When the 100 years access was debated in the Seanad the view was expressed that this time period should be reduced to 75, or even 50 years. However, while the retrospective introduction of the 100 years exemption was seen by some as undermining the original guarantee given to householders, it was generally accepted that 100 years was a reasonable compromise given that relatively few people would still be alive after 100 years. I am satisfied that the timeframe provided for in the Statistics Act strikes the right balance between facilitating legitimate historical and genealogical research on the one hand, while protecting the confidentiality of census data and maintaining the integrity of CSO guarantees procedures.