Written Answers. - General Register Office.

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

105 Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has considered the report on the General Register Office submitted to his Department in December 1999 by the Council of Irish Genealogical Organisation; and if he will implement the recommendations in that report. [10356/00]

The administration of the registration system is a matter for An tArd-Chláraitheoir, the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and for local registrars who operate under his general direction. The Registration of Births and Deaths Acts, 1863 to 1996, and the Marriages Acts, 1844 and 1863, provide that An t-Ard Chláraitheoir shall retain certified copies of the records of births, deaths and marriages returned to him on a quarterly basis by local registrars and that he shall compile and make available an index to such records at his office. Persons are entitled to search these indexes on the payment of the approved fees and to obtain certified copies of entries identified from the index.

As the Deputy may be aware, steps are being taken to maintain and improve indexes to the records of births, deaths and marriages, including the special project for the capture of the records of births, deaths and marriages and associated indexes in an electronic format which has been ongoing in Roscommon for some time. When this archival records project is completed, it will improve the efficiency, flexibility, access and management of the records and the associated indexes and will provide potential for the development of a range of services, which would not be possible in a system reliant on printed indexes. This project will benefit all customers of the registration service throughout the country, including persons who currently avail of the services of the reading room in the General Register Office.

In the interim other measures taken to improve services in the General Register Office include the relocation of the public counter on the first floor in Joyce House in July 1999 to provide additional space in the public reading room. Work is about to commence on additional improvements to the reading room in the General Register Office.

Other issues raised in the council's report are being considered in the context of the review of the service to identify changes necessary to provide an modern and effective service based on the electronic recording of vital events.