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Ó Snodaigh calls for 1926 Census to be released early

24 May, 2016 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh has put forward a Bill today that would allow for the 1926 Census to be released early due to the enormous historic importance of the first census after the formation of the state, especially given the significant interest in the time period in this the centenary year of 1916.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

“The decision to make available to the public the 1901 and 1911 Census returns for the island of Ireland earlier than any subsequent Census release (50 years after their collation in 1961) and the subsequent digitisation earlier this century of them by the National Archives opened up an important part of our national heritage that has helped people to connect with the past. 

“The online availability of this historical archive has generated significant interest, particularly amongst Ireland’s diaspora, who in increasing numbers have accessed the 1901 and 1911 census data in an effort to learn more about their ancestral links to Ireland.

“My Statistics (1916 Rising Centenary) Bill which I am moving today seeks to amend the 1993 Statistics Act, so that we the public can access the 1926 Census 10 years before the 100 year restriction imposed by the 1993 Act. It does this by making an exception to the restrictions contained within Sections 32 and 33 of the 1993 Census Act which set out the 100 year rule, before which Census data and forms can be publicly viewed/accessible.

“I believe it is appropriate that in the year that we celebrate the Centenary of the Easter Rising we make such an exemption to the 100 year rule so the public have access to the first census in Ireland after the formation of the State. 

“The 1926 census book ended what was a turbulent and epoch defining period in modern Irish history that witnessed the Lock Out of 1913, The founding of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan; The split in the Volunteers; the start of the First World War in 1914 and the resulting carnage that resulted in the deaths of over 50,000 Irishmen killed before it ended in 1918; the Easter Rising in 1916, executions, internment, release and revival leading to the General Election in 1918 all of which have not been reflected in the Census records available to the public to date.

“By confirming on the 1926 census a special heritage status, we are acknowledging the historical and genealogical significance of its archives at what was a seminal time in our history.” 

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