THE CAMPBEDS were brought out of the Stormont store in preparation for any disruption marking the first anniversary of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. In a post-nuclear situation, civil servants without “abnormal domestic ties” would have helped run NI. And phone systems and scramblers occupied the NI Emergency Committee according to papers from the more…
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FERRY STRIKE in May 1988 – newly released files under the 30/20 Year Rule show that as well as monitoring the levels of food and milk in Northern Ireland, emergency planning officials were alerted to dwindling supplies of paper that could have affected University of Ulster’s examinations!
Back in 1989 the Department of Economic Development realised that Northern Ireland was struggling to attract conferences (partly due to a lack of accommodation) while the Republic of Ireland had invested in a Convention Bureau and was racing ahead with its ambassadors to attract ever more economically lucrative conferences and events.
DECLASSIFIED PAPERS from the Department of Economic Development in 1990 show that women accounted for just 1 in 6 of its public appointments. DETI figures for 2015 show that the proportion of female appointees had nearly doubled, and overall OFMdFM figures for 2015 show female appointments at 38%. There is a commitment for gender equality more…
BORDER PASSES were the brainchild of the MOD in London but a March 1989 paper recently declassified shows that the idea was neither supported by the the military based in Northern Ireland nor the RUC chief constable who saw the scheme as “a positive asset to the IRA”.
DECLASSIFED FILES released under the 30/20 Year Rule show that in 1991, Emergency Planning envisaged panic if the IRA placed a small nuclear device in Belfast or threatened to release anthrax germs. At the time the NI food stockpile was sufficient to bake 250 million scones (assuming there was a source of heat).
DESCLASSIFIED PAPERS record the NI emergency planning in 1988 when a Russian satellite was expected to fall to Earth and had the potential to scatter radioactive debris if its reactor core came down with it. While the risk was low, Home Secretary Douglas Hurd felt that the government should recommend that people stayed indoors if more…
DECLASSIFIED PAPERS show how government departments responded to Secretary of State Peter Brooke’s request for ideas about local excellence as he prepared for a speech designed to show off Northern Ireland. What ideas would such a speech contain today?
SENIOR CLERICS appear to have been less than enthusiastic in the late 1980s when asked by government to consider the more fulsome involvement of church denominations in improving community relations. “Pressures on the church leaders’ diaries” were blamed for not finding “an opportunity to discuss the issue of the churches’ future role in community relations more…
1 HOUR 35 MINUTE direct Belfast-Dublin train journeys envisaged in 1990/1 according to government files released under the 30/20 Year Rule. Today’s journey time – with four extra stops – is never faster than 2 hours 5 minutes. Why?
DECLASSIFIED PAPERS reveal internal UK government discussions about a proposal via the the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Gerada, for a “possible initiative by the Holy See over violence in Northern Ireland”.
1990 government papers record the opinion of three West Belfast priests on a range of issues – from the ineffective SDLP, IRA activities, and the need for planners to reform.
WITH REPORTS that the 1988 Sinn Fein gagging order was linked to the bombing of the head of the NI Civil Service Sir Kenneth Bloomfield’s house, an NIO press officer feared retaliation from ‘some dickhead in West Belfast’ who might believe he supported the silencing of the republican politicians
FIVE YEAR TUSSLE over how best to represent Northern Ireland on a new issue of the £1 coin was finally resolved without creating a constitutional or political crisis. Though we missed out on a Giants Causeway design sketched by a Department of Education official. And the agreed elk design was never used!
PROTESTANT PROTEST at withdrawal of government funding to Irish language organisation Glór na nGael back in August 1990. Papers released under the 20 Year Rule include a letter from Protestant language learners who questioned the “seemingly arbitrary decision”.
DECLASSIFIED GOVERNMENT FILES open to the public in PRONI from 9am this morning reveal how the NIO and government departments handled what was happening in Northern Ireland in the run up to 1991.
PRODUCING SAUSAGE MEAT – This is my favourite item from my mid-December stink looking through government papers that would be released on Friday 30 under the 20 Year Rule. The title could have been referring to a report on the state of the pork industry. The papers could have been an evaluation of how best more…
Hidden amongst the thousand or so government files released on Friday under the 20 Year Rule are some black and white photographs from the 1960s of the M1 motorway and its Sprucefield junction. Long before the days of early morning congestion at Junction 7! If you call into the Public Records Office and ask to more…
RELATIONSHIP COUNSELLING – Reading through two newly released files documenting “Political Developments in NI” from 1989 and 1990, you get a feel for the sheer number of documented conversations between senior SDLP figures and officials in the NIO about the tensions in the leadership around the talks process.
EIGHTEEN MEMBERS were removed from the Assembly Chamber at the behest of the Speaker after anti-Sunningdale members refused to move from the Executive’s front benches and disrupted proceedings. A 1974 letter describing events from the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Clerk of the Assembly has now been released.