Written answers

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

Register of Electors

9:00 pm

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Question 132: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress to date of the campaign to update the electoral register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30944/06]

Photo of Dick RocheDick Roche (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.

In April 2006, I announced a package of measures to assist local authorities in their work on preparing the 2007/8 Register, which included the use of Census enumerators or other temporary personnel to support local authorities in preparing the next Register. The CSO contacted census enumerators seeking expressions of interest in the work; lists of enumerators expressing such an interest in each city and county council area were made available to local authorities. This cleared the way for recruitment and deployment, as appropriate, by local authorities of additional temporary staff for the registration campaign.

In addition, my Department worked with a group of local authority managers and senior officials to put in place an enhanced programme for improving the next Register. Detailed procedures for the carrying out of registration fieldwork were finalised and issued to local authorities in early July. New supplies of the electoral registration (RFA) forms were distributed to all local authorities in June (significantly earlier than in previous years).

I also committed to providing additional ring-fenced financial resources to support local authorities' own spending in respect of the register campaign and have advised authorities that a contribution of some €6 million can be made available in this regard. An initial allocation of some €3 million was made available in July to local authorities for registration work.

As regards publicity and awareness, a two-stage approach has been developed, involving information notices followed by an intensive media campaign. Information notices were published in the national press on 19–21 August, urging co-operation with local register campaigns. In addition, a national publicity and awareness campaign involving TV, radio, press and outdoor advertising commenced on 11 September and will run until 25 November (the closing date for submitting corrections to the Draft Register).

An online register search facility is now available through local authority websites. A link from the Department's website (www.environ.ie) to the relevant search facility has also been provided.

New arrangements for the deletion of names of deceased persons from the Register are now in place: the new system allows for the efficient and timely deletion of the names of deceased persons from the Register using the Death Event Publication Service which has been developed by Reach in association with the General Register Office.

New guidance for local authorities on Preparing and Maintaining the Register of Electors was made available to authorities in electronic format on 31 May. Printed copies of the guidance were subsequently sent to all local authorities, returning officers and relevant Government Departments. In the final version of the guidance, the importance of local authorities cross-checking the Register with other databases available to them is stressed.

The measures I announced in April are important supports for action by local authorities to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register in their areas.


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