Releasing 1926 census data
Sir, – Further to John Barnewell’s claims about confidentiality of census data (August 21st), there was no period of confidentiality stated in the Statistics Act of 1926. The 100-year rule first appeared, retrospectively, in the Statistics Act of 1993. The census of 1911 was first made available to public inspection not online in 2010, but in hardcopy form in 1961. In 2012, among the arguments that convinced the then-minister for culture and heritage Jimmy Deenihan and his Cabinet colleagues to release the 1926 census was the fact that it included large numbers of people born before civil registration began in 1864.
The solution to qualms about privacy is to redact. This easy solution was used by the United Kingdom when it released the wartime 1939 national register for England and Wales. This was achieved by redacting the data of anyone born less than 100 years before.
The current Minister for Culture and Heritage Heather Humphreys should dust off her predecessor’s files and secure her Cabinet colleagues’ support for release of a redacted 1926 census. – Yours, etc,
STEVEN C SMYRL,
Executive Liaison Officer,
Council of Irish
Rathgar, Dublin 6.