On the 14th January Steven Smyrl, CIGO Executive Liaison Officer, gave oral evidence before the Northern Ireland Assembly's Finance & Personnel Scrunity Committee in relation to the Civil Registration Bill 2008. Steven was joined in giving evidence by Robert Davison, former Hon. Secretary of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI). The Bill will amend the Births and Deaths Registration (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 and thereby allow the General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRONI) to modernise the delivery of this vital service. Clauses 13 & 22 of the Bill will allow the creation of an Internet-based access service to scanned images of the original register entries, which date back to 1845. Scanned images will be available on-line of all birth records compiled over 100 years ago; marriages over 75 years ago and deaths over 50 years ago. It is hoped that this service will begin within the next two years.
In briefing notes released to CIGO before the evidence session reference was made by GRONI to the future improvement in data recorded in death registrations. In future, parents' names and their occupations are to be recorded for children who die aged 16 years or under. Both CIGO and APGI made the point that within the UK the recording of parents' names in death records has taken place in Scotland since 1855 and in fact in the Republic of Ireland it has also been the case since 2006. Both organisations also indicated that contrary to an earlier suggestion by GRONI, the future recording of parents' names in death registrations of under-16s was not being done to facilitate genealogists but was actually being done to assist the gathering of statistics in Northern Ireland. Both bodies went on to highlight the importance of this issue and pressed that it had been raised many times in the past with GRONI. MLAs from all parties appeared to be interested in the subject.
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