Catherine Murphy for Taoiseach
Just before Christmas 2013, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht held a series of public hearings on maximising our cultural and genealogical heritage. Its report was finally published at the start of this month (bit.ly/1aYzrEQ ).
Catherine Murphy TD, prime mover behind the hearings and the author of the report, was only given authority to act on behalf of the committee (as “rapporteur”) in January of this year. Hence the delay. But it was well worth waiting for. Anyone with even the remotest interest in Irish genealogy should read it.
The original hearings canvassed the widest possible range of views and for its summary of these alone the report is essential reading, giving a superb bird’s-eye snapshot of the multitude of competing agendas in play. The overview of record-sources is also an eye-opener, shedding light on areas I was hazy about myself, in particular Land Registry records.
But at the heart of the report are its 37 recommendations and these will rightly be the focus of most attention. If they have a flaw, it is that some try too hard to accommodate the conflicting approaches the committee heard. It is difficult, for example, to see how No 2, the recommendation to establish “a national diaspora and genealogy centre which acts as a central information point” squares with No 8, which urges the maintenance and improvement of local research facilities.
This is hairsplitting, however. The overall goal urged in the report is no less than the establishment of Ireland as a European centre of genealogical excellence, and its recommendations are models of clarity and sanity in the service of that aim: “ The majority of our genealogical records are public goods and public access is the desired goal”; “ It is vital that the General Register Office accepts that one of its core functions is the facilitation of genealogical research”; “The system must be designed with the end user in mind.”
The real question, of course, is whether any of the recommendations will be implemented.
Catherine Murphy for Taoiseach?