Written answers

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Census of Population Publication

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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508. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when she will have legislation enacted to digitalise the 1926 census; the length of time it will take for the census to be released following enactment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46933/14]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Programme for Governmentcontains a commitment to enabling the publication of the 1926 Census records in due course.

The digitisation of the 1901 and 1911 Census returns, which in relative terms was a simpler project than the proposed 1926 Census project, took over four years to complete. The 1926 Census is the next full set of Census records, after the 1911 returns, which is available to the State. However, current legislative provisions, as contained in the Statistics Act 1993, require that census data must be withheld for 100 years. Accordingly, it is not possible at this time to release the 1926 Census returns before the statutory period has elapsed in 2026. If the records were to be released before the expiry of 100 years, a major change in legislation and policy would be required to allow for the early release. This is not currently being proposed.

A 1926 Census Working Group has been formed, comprising officials from my own Department, the National Archives and the Central Statistics Office. The Group has examined this complex project and has assessed the significant resources - in terms of additional financial, staff and infrastructural resources - that will need to be in place to move the project forward to completion. I can say that, following discussions within the Working Group, I am of the opinion that the extensive preparatory work required to prepare the 1926 Census database for processing, and eventual digitisation to facilitate the release of the data into the public domain, should continue. It must be recognised, however, that, in light of the level of additional resources that will be necessary, and of the current engagement by the National Archives on a number of other important projects, including some that form a key part of the programme for the Decade of Commemorations, it will be necessary to work over time towards building the necessary capacity to undertake and oversee the 1926 Census project.


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