Calls for release of Land Commission records
Social Democrats Co-Leader Catherine Murphy has asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, if she will begin the process of making the Land Commission records available in the context of the Decade of Centenaries.
Catherine Murphy emphasised the historical and cultural importance of these records and urged the Minister to look at making them available to help shape the discussions underway about our evolution as a Republic over the last century.
Catherine Murphy has previously indicated to the Minister that these records have a particular significance given the decade of centenaries and the commemorations currently underway.
“This vast trove of up to eight million individual records form an integral part of helping us understand our past and for those with a particular interest in genealogy and social history they are can be a key research source to unlock many outstanding questions regarding our past and how that has shaped our present and indeed, future.
"The records exist within the Department of Agriculture and I have asked the Minister to initiate a dialogue with the Department with a view to making these records publicly available in this State, the counterparts of which are readily available publicly in Northern Ireland,” she said.
Mniister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said that there are no immediate plans to make the 8 million or so former Irish land Commission (ILC) records generally available to the public for research purposes or otherwise, as they are still working documents.
"My officials regularly access these records to service queries from the public relating to current and past transactions and for the full completion of the work of the former ILC. Owners and purchasers of land and their personal or legal representatives are allowed access to and copies of relevant documents/maps," he said.
Since 2008, over 14,300 search and retrieval cases have been completed by the seven full time staff currently based at the Records Storage facility in Portlaoise.
Minister Creed saod his Department is mindful of the public interest in obtaining access to the vast repository of former ILC documents held.
However, he said wider access will be a matter for consideration when the completion of the work of the former ILC is at a more advanced stage.
"Furthermore the records which are available in paper format only are fragile, some dating back as far as the early 1800's and are an irreplaceable resource should they get damaged.
"In order to maintain them, it is essential that they are handled and stored appropriately. Opening up access to these files cannot be considered until appropriate measures are undertaken to minimise potential damage from routine handling," he said.