§ MR. M'FADDEN (Donegal, E.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, having regard to the fact that Protestant and Presbyterian clergymen solemnising marriages in Ireland are empowered to register marriages without reference to the local registrars of births, marriages, and deaths, but that Roman Catholics contracting marriages in their own churches are put to the inconvenience of attending with the witnesses at the local registrar's office, whether the Government will amend the law so that Roman Catholic clergymen shall have the same privileges in this matter as the clergymen of the other denominations.
§ MR. ATKINSON
Perhaps I may be permitted to reply to this question. Under the 7 and 8 Vict., c. 81, Sections 63 to 66, clergy of the Church of Ireland and the Presbyterian Church are supplied by the Registrar General with duplicate registry books, in which they are required to register the marriages solemnised by them and to transmit to the Registrar General quarterly returns of the entries in these books. In the cases of the Roman Catholic clergy no registers of marriages are kept by them and no returns are made by them to the district registrar. Under the 26 and 27 Vict. c. 90, Roman Catholics about to marry obtain from the registrar of Roman Catholic marriages, who is generally the registrar also of births and deaths, a certificate, which the husband is obliged, after the marriage, to return to the Registrar General signed by the contracting parties and by the officiating clergyman; but the attendance of the 1477 parties and witnesses at the registry office is not necessary. To obviate any inconvenience, many years ago, at the suggestion of several high dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church, the registrars were instructed to furnish blank forms of certificates to the Roman Catholic clergy; this course has been generally adopted throughout Ireland, and any parish priest in Ireland can obtain a supply on application. The present practice is, I think, generally approved of, and there is no demand for the legislation suggested.