Friday, 19 February 2010

1939 National Register - Northern Ireland request update

I had a phone call earlier from someone at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) who called me for more info regarding my Freedom of Information Act request for information concerning an address in Belfast in the 1939 National Register, which is apparently the first they have received (see 1939 National Register - Northern Ireland request). It was confirmed, however, that they have received several more since - so many that I was told "we are going to have to do something about this"!

PRONI has now found the info for the address I am interested in. There are 794 registers, two to a box, all completely unindexed and stored in an out storage facility. By a sheer fluke, I was told that my address was found in the very first box they looked at - I've long suspected my Northern Irish brethren have Jedi skills! However, finding the information is one thing, providing it to me is quite another, and various conversations now need to take place with the GRO in Belfast and within PRONI itself, which is completely understandable, and I was advised it may be a wee while yet before I get an answer - again, fair enough.

To help contextualise the NI situation in relationship to the situation in the rest of the UK, I e-mailed through a summary of exactly all the developments to have happened so far in Britain, the various systems now in place here in Scotland and down south, and additional info such as proof of death for my grandparents (for whom I am seeking info).

In summary - I think this is a big deal for PRONI, but I also think they are extremely sincere about dealing with it. I've been asked to leave it with them for a short while, as various internal negotiations now have to take place. At present it is looking promising, but I'm not there yet.

I should add that I am sympathetic to PRONI's situation - clearly the records are not as easy to access as their mainland British equivalents, and there is a move imminent to new premises. But I also believe that so long as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland contains the word 'United' in its title, the citizens of the UK have an equal right to the material in all four of its constituent countries, where the same resources exist equally for those four countries - particularly for a 'National' Register. So fingers crossed...!

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