A sledgehammer to crack a nut … 1992 NI Civil Service-style #20YearRule

Look long enough and hard enough and you’ll find some bizarre papers amongst the official files released in each tranche under the 20 Year Rule.

Sometimes governments experience problems familiar to the public, like how to get large pieces of furniture through a door without dismantling the furniture, or the door!

In this case, the District Electoral Areas Commissioner Maurice Hayes’ work was winding up at the end of 1992/beginning of 1993 and according to the file marked DEAC/2/2/28A Appointments, Staffing and Accommodation, a joiner was required.

There is no record in the file – which is available for members of the public to view from today in the Public Records Office in Titanic Quarter – of whether the joiner took a hammer to the “light table” (or sawed it in two) or instead went to the effort of taking the door frame apart as suggested to preserve the table …

The 20 Year Rule is being phased in over ten years to replace the previous 30 Year Rule that governed the release of official government files. With two years’ worth of records released each year during the transition, today sees the release of the 1993 files.

The year – in this case, 1993 – tends to correspond with the closure of each file of papers, so they often contain correspondence and minutes from one or more years before. And some records whose release was previously delayed are being released in this batch.

A total of 527 files are fully available to the public from this morning in the Public Records Office (PRONI) in Titanic Quarter. A further 227 files have been released with some redaction. Only 35 files remain closed in full, mostly individual prisoner files and details about Honours.