Wednesday, 13 July 2011
1939 National Register for Northern Ireland
I've just read in the latest issue of Family Tree magazine (www.family-tree.co.uk) that for 1939 Northern Irish National Register entries there is as yet no formal procedure to apply for the information. The author, a genealogist from Dublin, suggests that "given that cataloguing is ongoing, delays are inevitable and readers should delay applying for data until more information about the procedure is posted on the PRONI website: www.proni.gov.uk".
It is great to hear that PRONI is cataloguing the material, but it is worth pointing out that in Scotland and England, where the equivalent information has been formally made available through payment schemes, there is, as that suggests, a payment - £13 for Scottish enquiries (for individuals) and a whopping £42 for English and Welsh applications (for households).
Under the Freedom of Information Act, you have a right to apply for information at no cost where there is no formal publication scheme in place. This is currently the situation at PRONI. You are therefore perfectly entitled to make an application to PRONI under the FOI Act, and it will not cost you a penny, whether it is inconvenient for PRONI (indeed for any archive) or not. So my advice is, yes, there may be a delay, but get the application in now - or you may well end up paying in due course if you decide to wait!
I have previously made a successful application to PRONI myself for information from the register for both of my grandparents in Belfast, with the information on my grandfather in particular proving crucial in identifying his exact birth date in Brussels, for which there had been a couple of possibilities. For details of the procedure, and the web address with details on FOI applications to PRONI, see my blog post from March 2010 at http://scottishancestry.blogspot.com/2010/03/1939-northern-irish-foi-request.html.
Just to add, when Yorkshire based genealogist Guy Etchells secured access to the English and Welsh register a couple of years back, he went to a great amount of effort to inform people that they must get their applications in quickly before the NHSIC implemented a payment scheme. I was able to secure an entry for a family member in St Albans from the English register by following his advice, and therefore saved myself £42. If PRONI implements a payment scheme - and it is by no means certain that it will, as it does provide some free digitised material online through its site - I have no idea what might be charged. But I do know that in Northern Ireland, civil registration certs are the most expensive in the UK! My advice is therefore better safe than sorry - get those applications in now!
Details on how to access all UK National Register entries, and the history on how they were made available, are also available through an article I wrote for issue 75 of Irish Roots magazine (3rd quarter 2010), available online or as a back issue from www.irishrootsmedia.com/issue/85.