Official documents which show the Irish Government’s thinking on pivotal events during the ‘Troubles’have been made be available online at the University of Ulster’s CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) website.
Launched by the Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltach, Jimmy Deenihan, TD, the digitized records relating to the period 1970-1974, will now be accessible to the public thanks to a partnership project between the University and the National Archive, Ireland (NAI).
The collection includes over 750 records, and covers key events in the period including the 1970 Arms Crisis, Anglo-Irish Relations, the Sunningdale Agreement and the Ulster Workers Strike.
The items selected have been drawn from material which is already in the public domain, having been published under the ’30 year rule’, the time frame within which official documents are normally withheld.
It builds on a smaller selection of records from 1965 to 1969 which were launched by CAIN, which is based within INCORE (International Conflict Research Institute) at the University of Ulster, and NAI in October 2012 and it is anticipated that the enhanced resource records will provide a valuable online resource for researchers looking for information on the conflict and politics of Northern Ireland during this period.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Deenihan said: “It gives me great pleasure to launch additional digitized documents from archives of the Irish State held in the National Archives that provide an insight into the official response to the unfolding events in Northern Ireland in the 1970s at a time of great political turmoil, but also of promise.
“CAIN and the National Archives are to be congratulated for engaging in this ongoing work, with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Reconciliation Fund, to bring to a wider audience this digital resource which it is hoped will contribute to a greater understanding of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
“It will be available to all: students of Irish history at all levels, as well as well as to the general public at large.”Dr Brendan Lynn, CAIN Deputy Director, University of Ulster, said: “We are delighted to cooperate with the NAI in supplementing the existing resources on CAIN.
“It has also allowed CAIN to pursue one of its long-term objectives of working with individuals, groups or organisations with relevant material to make digital versions of their materials more accessible to a wider audience.
“The information is easily available and free of charge. It will be of great use to students, researchers, teachers and lecturers or to anyone with an interest in the political and social history of Northern Ireland.
“I would also like to record my thanks to the Reconciliation Fund for providing the support to allow CAIN to maintain its partnership with the NAI.”
Frances McGee, Acting Director of the National Archives added: “As the official repository for the archives of the modern Irish State, the National Archives holds documents of immense significance relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
“I am pleased that the National Archives has been able to continue in its joint efforts with Dr Brendan Lynn of CAIN, supported by the Reconciliation Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to bring selected documents relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland that our institution holds to as wide an audience as possible.
“Our continued support for the work of Dr Lynn and CAIN is a reflection of the importance we attach to promoting the use by the public at large of online digitized archival sources as a means of fostering an understanding of our past.”
The new online archive can be accessed at: http://cain.ulster.ac.uk/nai/.