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Irish statistics were compiled under the provisions of the Statistics Acts, 1926 and 1946 up until 1 November 1994 when the Statistics Act, 1993 came into operation.

The Statistics Act, 1993 provides a modern legislative basis for the compilation and dissemination of official statistics. The Act came into operation on 1 November 1994. It incorporated, inter alia, the following provisions:

  • the establishment on a statutory basis of the CSO as an independent Office under the aegis of the Taoiseach;
  • the functions of the CSO, including in addition to its basic mandate the obligation to co-ordinate official statistics compiled by public authorities, the right to assess the statistical potential of the records maintained by public authorities and to ensure that this potential is realised in so far as resources permit;
  • the appointment on a formal basis of the Director-General of the CSO who, in addition to being responsible for the management of the Office, shall also be independent on statistical matters (i.e. sole responsibility for the statistical methodologies and professional standards to be followed, the content of statistical releases and publications, and the timing and methods of dissemination of the statistics compiled);
  • the establishment of a National Statistics Board to guide, with the agreement of the Taoiseach, the strategic direction of the CSO;
  • the right of access, subject to some limitations and conditions, of the CSO to administrative records held by public authorities for statistical purposes; and
  • the obligation on the CSO to treat all individual information relating to persons or concerns as strictly confidential and to use such information solely for statistical purposes.

The Act fully reflects the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics adopted by the UN Economic Commission for Europe in 1992.

In accordance with Section 8(c) of the Data Protection Act, 1988 any restrictions in that Act on the disclosure of personal data do not apply in the case of the CSO if it requests such disclosure as a requirement (other than for the Courts, Garda Síochána, Prison Administration, Ombudsman and Medical Records) under Section 30 of the Statistics Act, 1993.