Fintan O’Toole: We are a nation of historical vandals

Ireland fails to preserve the records that constitute public memory

The National Archives of Ireland: there is a huge backlog  because there is nowhere to put the files, as well as no staff to assess and catalogue them.

The National Archives of Ireland: there is a huge backlog because there is nowhere to put the files, as well as no staff to assess and catalogue them.

One of the great myths of Ireland is that we are a nation obsessed with the past. There is indeed great public interest in at least some aspects of Irish history. But at the level of government and institutions, we are a nation of historical vandals.

The pain and grief that has been caused by the confusion over the records of evidence, given by survivors to the mother and baby homes commission, betrays the utter lack of a clear State policy on how to create and curate the public memory of Ireland’s recent past.

The Irish Times
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