Diarmaid Ferriter: Department of Justice has history of dismissing challenges

Past shows Government not unpractised in contempt for those exposing wrongdoing

Department of Justice headquarters on St Stephen’s Green: the department should have made the exhibition about the assassination of the State’s first minister for justice, Kevin O’Higgins, public. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Department of Justice headquarters on St Stephen’s Green: the department should have made the exhibition about the assassination of the State’s first minister for justice, Kevin O’Higgins, public. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

I rang the Department of Justice last week, not as a commentator or outraged citizen, but as a curious historian. After reading the account by Stephen Collins in this newspaper about an exhibition the department was hosting to mark the assassination of the State’s first minister for justice, Kevin O’Higgins, in 1927, based on files from the National Archives, I wanted to know what arrangements had been made for public access. None, I was told; it was a private exhibition for one night only.

I wondered was the reluctance of the department to share these files with the public part of its wider problem with file sharing, but was assured the files will be returned to the National Archives in the new year where they will be available to the public. So at least we will have transparency in relation to that information.

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