The Archives and Records Association, Ireland (ARA, Ireland) is the principal professional body for archivists, conservators and records managers in Ireland. We wish to express our concern around the lack of consultation, consideration and inclusivity in passing the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill, 2020.
We welcome the government's subsequent acknowledgement of the hurt this has caused to victims and survivors of abuse, and its commitment to working with the Data Protection Commission and other legal experts in relation to accessibility. We also welcome further reference to management and preservation of the records of the Commission. However we feel this continues to fall short in terms of addressing concerns around access and information governance, archives and records management, data protection and digital preservation of the archive of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation and associated database.
ARA, Ireland, therefore calls for a fundamental review of this Bill and proposed new measures in relation to the National Archives Act, 1986, National Archives (Amendment) Act, 2018, Data Protection Act, 2018 and other associated legislation, in consultation with stakeholders including the National Archives and wider archival community in Ireland. We would urge further consideration on a wide range of unresolved issues, including concerns around the allocation of responsibility for managing the MBH Commission of Investigation database to the Child and Family State Agency TUSLA. TUSLA, established on the 1st January 2014, is not subject to the National Archives Act, 1986, and is among over 150 publicly-funded State bodies with no legal requirement to maintain and archive their records for release to the public under the 30 year rule. Although this MBH Commission of Investigation database is protected under the provisions of the National Archives Act, 1986, TUSLA will continue to have no legal protection for its own records, including those associated with this database, or have any legal requirement to transfer its records to the National Archives for their release to the public for consultation. Furthermore, the absence of any standardised approach to records management across the civil and public service demonstrates the need for a review of National Archives legislation, including expansion of the scope of the legislation and a statutory role for the National Archives in the oversight of record keeping across the civil and public service.
On this basis, we urge the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to engage in further dialogue with survivors of abuse and their representatives, as well as with the National Archives, Ireland; the National Archives Advisory Council; the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, who has statutory responsibility for the National Archives; and the Minister for Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, who has statutory responsibility for records management across the civil and public service.
This is a defining moment for the State in its treatment of survivors of abuse. It is vital that access, management and preservation of their testimony and the important records and work of the Commission are considered at greater length, so that those most directly impacted are supported, and society and future generations can attest to this period in our history.
29 October 2020
For a downloadable version of this statement please click here.
Europeana Sport - Ireland’s Stories is a new online sports collection campaign running from June 2020 until the end of the year, under the Europeana Sport international collection campaign. Ireland’s Stories is seeking to engage with local communities, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and any type of cultural heritage organisations to collect and share sporting heritage. Coordinating partners include the Digital Repository of Ireland, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, European Expo2020, Hunt Museum, University of Limerick Conference & Sports Campus and the Fethard Horse Country Experience with many new partners joining the team. Any individual or organisation wishing to get involved can register their interest.
The Digital Repository of Ireland invites early career researchers to apply for our annual Research Award. This Award grants a prize to an original piece of research (e.g. research done for Master’s or PhD thesis, article or publication) informed in whole, or in part, by objects/collections deposited in DRI. More information can be found here.
We at ARA Ireland would like to draw your attention to the ARA Together Support Hub which has been recently set up to support ARA members and the Archives and Record Keeping Sector, as a whole, during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Feel feel to browse here. If you have any queries specific to the Ireland region, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently the Archives and Records Association published its latest Guidance on Archives and Legal Proceedings report. The purpose of the guidance is to support archivists and records managers to manage the use of archives and records in legal proceedings. Over the decades, archives and records have regularly been produced in legal proceedings over issues such as land ownership and rights of way. More recently there have been several high-profile occasions where the production of archives and records in inquiries and court proceedings have played a pivotal role, such as:
The Hillsborough Disaster Inquiry, subsequent inquests and criminal trials
The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry
The report provides an overview of the issues surrounding the use of archives and records in court and provides some guidance for record-keepers. It also provides case studies which outline current practice in the sector. To download the full report, please click here.
National Gallery of Ireland
Thursday 5 December 2019
On Thursday 5 December 2019 the Archives and Records Association Ireland held an event to commemorate the foundation in 1979 of their predecessor organisation, the Society of Archivists Ireland. The event also included the formal appointment of Aideen Ireland as President of the Archives and Records Association UK and Ireland.
ARA Ireland were honoured to welcome President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins to address the event, and we express our deepest gratitude to President Higgins for his continued support for our organisation and our profession.
We note with thanks the wonderful speech delivered by President Higgins which illustrates this public support, most notably we appreciate the many references to the work of archivists and the many challenges they face. Both a written and an audio version of the speech are available here. More images from the evening, taken by Jenny Mathews, are available on our gallery page.
Finally ARA Ireland's response to President Higgins' speech, given on the night by Niamh Ní Charra (Communications Officer, ARA Ireland) in Irish and English, is available to read in both languages here.
President Michael D. Higgins, and his wife Sabina with the ARA Ireland committee
In response to events surrounding the online comments made by former ARA Head of Public Affairs, in August 2019, and in support of ARA Ireland’s continued commitment to diversity and inclusion in the Irish archives and records sector, ARA Ireland is pleased to announce we are holding a training seminar ‘Championing Diversity and Inclusion in Irish Archives and Records’. The aim of this training event is to provide a platform for sharing the strategies and experiences of individuals and organisations who have contributed to the important work of diversifying Irish archives and records and to the wider conversation around archival representation, community engagement and inclusion. As illustrated by the recent twitter controversy surrounding the ARA Conference 2019, ARA Ireland acknowledges that there is a lot of work to be done within the Archives and Records Association in order to further the goals of the Glasgow Manifesto and is keen to re-iterate its position in support of all actions to diversify both the profession and the field of archiving and record keeping more generally. With this training event, ARA, Ireland seeks to continue the conversation around diversity and inclusion in Irish archives and records and provide the opportunity for its members to learn about and engage with different strategies and approaches to diversifying archival collections. We are very grateful to our speakers for their participation and recognise that this training event is just the first of many steps we need to take.
ARA Ireland's Autumn newsletter is now available and can be viewed here.
Details of the Ireland launch of Explore Your Archives 2019 have also been announced. The Irish campaign will launch at 6pm, Thursday 21st November at the Irish Architectural Archive. Please RSVP here.
The next ARA training event Championing Diversity and Inclusion in Irish Archives and Records will take place prior to the EYA launch, from 2 - 5.30pm.
We are pleased to announce that Aideen Ireland has been appointed the new ARA UK & Ireland President. Aideen will be making awards presentations in the Autumn. An official "inauguration" will be held in Dublin in December where we will also be celebrating 40 years of the SoA/ARA Ireland.
Aside from her extensive work at the National Archives of Ireland and across the sector during a distinguished career, Aideen has also served as a member of the council, as president and as fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and as council member and fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, London. Aideen retired in 2016.