Dáil Éireann - Volume 400 - 27 June, 1990

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - National Archives.

3. Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he has satisfied himself that the accommodation of the National Archives is adequate to meet its needs; if he has obtained, on behalf of the National Archives, the necessary co-operation from all Government Departments in relation to the transfer of records; if he will indicate the further measures, if any, he proposes to take in relation to the work of the National Archives; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Taoiseach: All sections of the National Archives Act, 1986, are now in [984] operation. By 31 December 1990, departmental records which are more than 30 years old should in general either be transferred to the National Archives to be made available there to the public, or be covered by certificates made under section 8 (2) or 8 (4) of the Act authorising their retention in Departments.

The transfer of such a large quantity of records has meant that additional accommodation has had to be provided for the National Archives. Accordingly, the Government decided last year that premises at Bishop Street which are owned by the State should be allocated to the National Archives. The occupation of these premises by the National Archives commenced earlier this month. I am satisfied that the front block of the building at Bishop Street will meet the immediate need of the National Archives for accommodation for records due for transfer from Departments by 31 December 1990. I have been advised by the director of the National Archives that, with eventual restructuring, the building as a whole will meet the storage neds of the National Archives until well into the next century.

Over the past two years, Departments have been made fully aware of their obligations under the National Archives Act. The progress being made by Departments in preparing records for transfer is being monitored by the director of the National Archives and his staff on a continuing basis.

The director of the National Archives has recently sought information from all Departments concerning the measures which they propose to take to ensure that the deadline of 31 December 1990 for the transfer of records is met. The need for any further action in the matter by my Department will be considered in the light of the replies received by the director.

Mr. Quinn: I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. The Taoiseach will be aware that I expressed concern in the past about the temporary storage arrangements which have been made. Would he indicate, therefore, whether the existing [985] premises at Bishop Street have been designated the National Archives Centre?

The Taoiseach: That is what is intended. As I said in my reply, when the eventual restructuring of the building as a whole takes place, it will meet the needs of the National Archives well into the next century.

Mr. Quinn: If individuals or scholars wish to gain access to such archives, will they do so through that building or — and the Taoiseach may not have this information in the accompanying brief — will research facilities be made available for scholars on that premises?

The Taoiseach: I think that is the idea but I will have to check that for the Deputy and let him know.

4. Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if, in view of the historical importance of the Single European Act and the completion of the Single Market, he will ensure that comprehensive documentary records are maintained by all relevant Government Departments and transferred, in due course, to the National Archives, so as to enable future generations to study accurately and comprehensively the business of Government at this time; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Taoiseach: The provisions of the National Archives Act, 1986, apply to these records as to all records of Government Departments.

Mr. Quinn: Would the Taoiseach not agree that this set of documentation will be, and is, of considerable historic importance? Having regard to the fact that much of the archival material relating to our accession to the Community in 1972 was mislaid or went astray, would the Taoiseach ensure through his office that the highest possible standards are exercised by all the relevant Government Departments who have an interest in this matter?

[986] The Taoiseach: I would be glad to do that.