Tuesday 25 September 2012

Researching Irish police from 1922 onwards

I was writing up a section for the occupations chapter of my new Irish genealogy book, and came across a problem which the following might help with. I was discussing access to police service records in Ireland, and prior to 1922, the situation is fairly clear - the main force was the RIC, and its records are fairly accessible from a few places, including the National Archives in London and a few other repositories.

Grand stuff - but what if your ancestor was a 'Peeler' after 1921?!! Well here's the answer!

Northern Ireland - the RUC and the PSNI

The Police Service of Northern Ireland's museum in Belfast has a genealogy service website at www.psni.police.uk/index/about-us/police_museum/museum_genealogy.htm, but the site is slightly out of date. It states that it can perform searches through its copies of RIC records from 1822-1922, as well as through various RIC lists, but doesn't mention what it can do for those who served with the RUC (or even the PSNI, now in its 11th year). For the RUC the museum in fact holds service personnel cards which were kept up to 1977, after which service details were computerised (still the case with the PSNI which replaced it in 2001). There is a closure period of 75 years to access these records - so at present any Tom, Dick or Harry can access the cards prior to 1937, but not after. For more recent records you need to either have been the policeman who served, or a family relative, and to supply the proof of the connection. To have a search carried out costs £25 - contact details for the museum are on the page noted above.

Republic of Ireland - An Garda Síochána

This one's slightly more painful! The Garda Museum in Dublin has a series of extracts from service records which can only be consulted by ex-police personnel or their next-of-kin - nobody else can see them, and there is no closure period as in the north, so we are talking right back to 1922 here. Apparently the service records themselves - where they have survived - cannot be accessed, even by those they concern, only the extracts are publicly available. I was also told that some of the original records prior to the 1950s were also destroyed by keen civil servants. Whilst less is available, the good news is that at least the material that can be consulted is free to access. Contact details for the Garda Museum are at www.garda.ie/Controller.aspx?Page=72&Lang=1

Hope that helps - and keep an eye out for my Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet early next year, which lists many more police resources accessible online and other useful Irish collections.

(With a huge thanks to Neil in Belfast and Jerry in Dublin)


Scottish Research Online - 5 weeks online Pharos course, £45.99, taught by Chris Paton from 26 SEP 2012 - see www.pharostutors.com
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... www.thehistorypress.co.uk/products/The-Mount-Stewart-Murder.aspx (from June 12th 2012)

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