National Archives prepare for release of 1985 State papers – Minister Humphreys

Papers feature files on famous meetings between Fitzgerald and Thatcher

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Wednesday) said that the National Archives of Ireland is making final preparations for the release of the State papers and records from 1985, the year the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed.

Minister Humphreys said:

“1985 was a fascinating period in Irish history, which saw the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which changed the way the Irish and British governments dealt with Northern Ireland. It ultimately paved the way for the Good Friday Agreement, and was one of the very early building blocks of the Peace Process. Our archives are an invaluable resource. They are a witness to past events and I expect that the 1985 papers will shed new light on the challenges faced by State authorities at the time.

“By ensuring public access to records dating back 30 years, the National Archives enriches our knowledge and understanding of Irish history and society. My Department is continuing to work with the National Archives as we gradually move towards a 20 year rule, which will see records being released after two decades, rather than three.

“The annual release of records is a cornerstone in Ireland’s democratic process and supports accountability and transparency across the public sector. I very much look forward to this year’s releases and recalling the events of 1985.

“2016 will be an important year for the National Archives, when its major new building programme will be progressed. The Archives will also play an important role in the 2016 commemorations with initiatives such as a genealogy toolkit for schools and the continued release of additional series of digitised files from the 1916 period.

“The National Archives, in co-operation with the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, will also initiate a project next year to progress a records management model scheme for the civil service and for the management of electronic records, which will be a very important development as we move towards the release of records under a 20 year rule.”

John McDonough, Director of the National Archives, said:

“Each December, staff at the National Archives undertake a programme of work to prepare records for public release in early January.  This entails accessioning, sorting, cataloguing, repacking and storing over 5,000 boxes of records from Departments of State and the Courts service.

“As we enter 2016 and the acme of the decade of commemorations, the desire to visit or revisit events in our shared history will grow in popularity and significance.  It is worth recalling that this is something the National Archives underpins every year as we ensure access to the primary sources from 30 years ago which reflect the decision making and decision makers of the time.”



Notes to Editors:

The National Archives is tasked with preserving records of:

  • Departments of State, including the courts
  • Bodies named in the schedule to the National Archives Act
  • Committees and commissions of inquiry established by Government, by a member of Government or by the Attorney General

In doing so it supports the legislative requirement of these bodies to transfer records to its care, to preserve them and through their public availability, inform the idea of nation and statehood. In addition to these prescribed bodies, the National Archives collects other records from organisations with a national remit and where there is compelling reason for their preservation.

Legislative basis

The National Archives operates in line with the National Archives Act, 1986 which stipulates its role and functions. The core functions are to oversee the transfer of records to its custody and to ensure their public availability. It also has a formal function in the oversight of current records disposal within the bodies.

The full list of the files for public release will be available in hard copy in the Reading Room of the National Archives on 4 January 2016 and on the NA website in the New Year.

The National Archives will also make a selected sample of records form 1985 available on its website through January 2016.

2015 transfers were from the following departments:

  • Office of the Attorney General
  • Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
  • Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Department of Justice and Equality
  • Office of Secretary to the President
  • Department of Social Protection
  • Department of the Taoiseach
  • Chief State Solicitor’s Office
  • Department of Finance

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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