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PUBLIC OR PRIVATE?  -  A PROBLEM

Dividing Line on MC Research, County Louth, website

Sometime previous to setting up this private business I had worked in the public sector area and also had obtained qualifications in public administration. So I have looked at some things connected with the genealogy area differently than other professional genealogists.
      In particular I see differently the type of relationship that should exist between public servants, who are appointed and operate under specific Regulations and Rules, and professional bodies many of whose members run private businesses. The former normally work on public sector premises which they do not own while the latter mostly work from their own private places possibly owned, leased or rented by them.
      In my area now of genealogy and history it is the relationship between these two entities that I believe were and can be a source of concern.
      Personally I also believe that, because of the nature of our history and being still relatively young as an independent State, this relationship between public and private is something that always needs guarding. Once the doors are opened over time controls can become lax and records can be misplaced, lost, and worst still customers of the public body may perceive or be the subject of unfair treatment by the public officials who are expected to act, as far as possible, with fairness and integrity. Of course it must also be stated that because public officials are subject to Rules in their dealings with the public and are operating a service or services under specific Regulations, decided on by others, they should be treated with respect by members of the public.
      However, if private individuals can ply their services freely on public sector premises it becomes difficult to know who is who.

      I do not believe either that, in the area of genealogy and history, the State authorities should get involved in professional associations concerned with promoting the interests of their own members through their publicity of adherence to specific standards etc..
      But I do believe that those involved in operating private businesses, in the area of genealogy and related services, should be regulated under legislation.

      Of course it is a matter for the elected politicians in their policies to decide how far the State will get involved in the public and private sector. But, in Ireland, we also have a written Constitution adopted by the Irish People something which, even in the genealogy area, can make a difference with other Administrations such as in Northern Ireland who do not have a written Constitution.
     While the following provisions may only be ‘a general guidance' to the Oireachtas they are still there, for example, under Section:-

'45(1)  The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the whole people by securing and
          protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice and charity shall
          inform all the institutions of the national life.
45(2) The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing
         (i) That the citizens (all of whom, men and women equally, have the right to an
              adequate means of livelihood) may through their occupations find the means
              of making reasonable provision for their domestic needs.….
45(3) (i) The state shall favour and, where necessary, supplement private initiative, in
              industry and commerce …..'
 

These are examples of two cases where I found difficulty and had to complain.

Irish Genealogy Ltd (www.irishgenealogy.ie)
This Body is now within the Department of Arts etc. but originally when set up, about 1997, was a limited company intended to act as an umbrella Body to promote Irish genealogy.
     When I became aware of it allowing certain genealogists, who were members of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland [APGI], to advertise on their website I asked to include my business. But I was either ignored or told to join the equivalent professional body in Ulster. Being a native and residing in County Louth I did not see myself either in Northern Ireland or in the Province of Ulster so the telephone was put down.
     Later, on looking into the set up of Irish Genealogy Ltd it appeared to me that it was legally making the genealogy area a 'closed shop'.

The Advisory Service
Originally the Advisory Service in the National Library of Ireland {NLI] was seemingly, or so I was told at the time, provided by members of APGI.
     A number of years ago on being sent by a member of the NLI to a room to renew my membership card I found the relevant staff member on the telephone so I moved back nearer the door. However a person from the far opposite corner approached me and asked abruptly "What are you doing there?". I told her why I was there although I thought she was not a member of staff but not sure at that time. On later finding out that the person was with the Advisory Service I made a complaint.
     Since that time a tendering process was introduced for this service provision.

    To me such an Advisory Service should be run through a proper tendering system. EU Regulations now apply to this latter process. But even the members of the successful business(es) should be clearly identifiable from members of staff, when on public sector property, and other strict rules should apply to their contract.
     A person running a private business or an employee of same, when on a public sector premises, likes to know whether the person he/she is dealing with is a member of staff or someone else who may be the owner or employee of a competitor business.
     Also one can find index books etc., normally available on the open shelf, being left in the Advisory Room. While staff will quickly retrieve these, on being asked, such material was probably purchased or donated for all users of the Library or Archives.


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© MP McConnon, MC Research, Seabank, Castlebellingham, Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland (original 3 June 2016). 29 May 2018