06 Jul 2022

Irish government funding saves Derry-based Troubles archive from closure


A photograph of two young rioters in Creggan in the early 1970s. Photo by Eamon Melaugh

A valuable Troubles archive has been rescued at the eleventh hour after the Irish government announced funding for a new project.

Earlier this year Ulster University had decided that the Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN) website would be frozen.

The Irish government has now provided €66,561 through its Reconciliation Fund.

But additional resources must still be found to secure its long-term future.

CAIN is viewed as one of the most important sources of information about the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

It is based in Derry and has been being expertly curated by a team of two full-time researchers and an ICT Officer since March 1997. 

The website contains a large archive of materials and information related to the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland, with new materials added on a regular basis. 

It is seen as a unique academic and civic resource.

Last year, following a consultation the site had been granted a 12-month reprieve.

However, Ulster University carried out a final review of the funding situation facing CAIN in May 2020.

The university decided that the CAIN archive would move into a transition phase from May 1 to October 30 during which time the archive and website would become an unstaffed, static resource.

The three staff members would be made redundant.

Online access would be ensured by making CAIN a special digital collection within the University's Library.

However, in the absence of dedicated staff, no new material would be added, no updates carried out, and no queries or permission requests would be dealt with.

CAIN, and the wider ARK team, actively pursued additional funding.

The Reconciliation Fund of the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Dublin had a call for funding applications with a deadline in March 2020. 

CAIN applied for funding to undertake a specific project of work and were recently informed that their application had been successful.

Commenting on the news, an spokesperson for Ulster University said: “We are delighted to have received funding from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to complete the final phase of the Chronology of the Troubles project.

“We continue to seek funding for this important work and are committed to completing all funded initiatives as we work to secure the valuable assets in the CAIN archive for future generations of researchers.”

CAIN Director Martin Melaugh added: “This confirms support for the work that CAIN undertakes. 

“Both Ulster University and CAIN are committed to fully delivering all funded CAIN activity, so the planned work on this project will be carried out. 

“This project will begin on 1st August 2020.  CAIN is still seeking further financial support and project funding."

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