Move to begin in 2019 to release State papers after 20 years

Official files from 1988 are being released under 30-year rule

The National Archives on Bishop Street where State papers for 1988  have been released under the 30-year rule. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The National Archives on Bishop Street where State papers for 1988 have been released under the 30-year rule. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The National Archives will gradually reduce by ten years the current 30-year period for which confidential government documents are restricted from public viewing.

It will mean that within several years, secret Government papers will be released to the public after a period of two decades rather than three.

The 30-year rule applying to key government documents means Ireland has a stricter regime than the UK, which in 2013 began its move towards releasing records when they were 20 years old, instead of 30.

This year, UK State papers in London and Belfast pertaining to 1993-1994 are being released.

The disparity in release dates means that memoranda and correspondence generated by the British side in Anglo-Irish talks are made available much earlier than the memos produced by their Irish counterparts.

The latest batch of documents being released this week under the 30-year rule in Ireland are from 1988, when Charles Haughey was taoiseach and Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. It was a particularly fraught period in Anglo-Irish relations.

Last year, the an amendment to the National Archive Act was enacted allowing the period to be reduced of restriction from 30 to 20 years.

A spokesman for Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Josepha Madigan said the Act will be commenced in 2019 with incremental reductions in the time span, reducing it to 20 years gradually over a period of years.