Perhaps I have donned my rose-coloured glasses yet again, but honestly I cannot think of another country in the world in which the subject of genealogy would be a topic for discussion on the floor of the houses of government, but that is exactly what took place in the Dáil Éireann, earlier this week, on Wednesday, 22 June 2011.
Directly quoting from the Houses of the Oireachtas debate:
Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht:
"if he will set up a central genealogy service to capitalise on the recent visit by President Obama in view of the fact that it would provide a comprehensive research facility to the Irish diaspora worldwide and contribute greatly to attract these persons to Ireland."
Jimmy Deenihan, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht replied:
"My approach to genealogical services is to assist the two main national institutions involved in this area which are under the aegis of my Department, the National Archives and the National Library, to make available to the public the records of genealogical interest in their collections, online and free of charge, to gain the highest usage domestically and around the world."
Deputy Deenihan goes on to describe the other initiatives underway to ensure the greatest access of materials to the greatest number of people. He includes mention of http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/index.html, not currently my favourite site, given the snail's pace at which it is updated, but clearly a site which will be of great value once the work is complete.
Further, he makes reference to the fact that the release of the 1926 Census remains in legal limbo, but again, at least they are working on it. There is also discussion of creating a main web portal in order to draw together Irish genealogical web resources currently in use.
To read the entire debate visit The Houses of Oireachtas website debates page.
The significance of all of this is that the Irish government continues to recognize the importance of genealogy. Given the fact that it is good business to give people what they want, some will no doubt see this as a money grab, with the sole purpose of boosting tourism; however, as a researcher, I can only view it as a good thing.
Cheers to all, and Happy Hunting.
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