Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Access to State Papers.

Wednesday, 11 October 1978

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 308 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 102 Next Page Last Page

[27]25.

Mr. Horgan: Information on John S. Horgan  Zoom on John S. Horgan  asked the Minister for the Public Service the progress which has been made in the review of Government policy on access to State Papers announced by him in reply to a Parliamentary Question of 15 December 1977.

Minister of State at the Department of the Public Service (Mr. MacSharry): Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The review referred to by the Minister involved consideration of the access arrangements and wider changes regarding national archives and public records generally. This review is well advanced and I would hope to be able to announce the results fairly soon. The introduction of a National Archives Bill has been included in the programme for the current Dáil Session.

Mr. Horgan: Information on John S. Horgan  Zoom on John S. Horgan  Is the Minister aware, pending the completion of this review, that there seems to be a different policy operating in different Departments? For example, the Department of Finance is prepared to allow access to fairly recent State papers while other Departments, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, are effectively operating a 60-year rule. Does the Minister accept that this disparity in practice as between different Departments is a healthy one?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  When Departments were asked they facilitated individuals who were writing histories of Departments or State bodies but those individuals were governed by the Official Secrets Acts and were not allowed to publish anything without clearance by the Department concerned.

Mr. Horgan: Information on John S. Horgan  Zoom on John S. Horgan  Does the Minister accept it is highly unsatisfactory that any historical record of our international relationships since we achieved independence has still to be compiled exclusively from non-Irish sources because of the reluctance of the Department of Foreign Affairs, in particular, to allow access to papers?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  As I have already told the House, the review is almost completed.

[28]Mr. Horgan: Information on John S. Horgan  Zoom on John S. Horgan  When will it be completed?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Fairly soon.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Will this be followed by legislation in regard to archives, work on which was far advanced when the Government changed?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Yes. I would hope this would be contained in the proposed Bill which will be before the Dáil this session.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I do not in any way mean to be offensive towards the Minister of State, but is the House to take it that, because the Minister of State answered the first of the five questions addressed to the Minister for the Public Service, all these questions for that Department from now on will be answered by the Minister of State rather than by the Minister for the Department?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  That question does not arise and the Deputy is behaving in a disorderly manner in putting the question.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Lynch  Zoom on John Lynch  It is a matter for the Minister, not for the Deputy.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Minister is sitting in front of the Minister of State and I would like to know——

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Deputy was complaining a short while ago about the Minister of State not doing enough work.

Mr. Colley: Information on George Colley  Zoom on George Colley  Does not the Deputy know this has been the practice all along?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Minister for the Public Service has never answered Public Service questions.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I have done so all this year.

Mr. Blaney: Information on Neil T.C. Blaney  Zoom on Neil T.C. Blaney  Might I ask the Minister of State whether in fact the minutes of Cabinet meetings since the foundation of [29] the State are also involved when we talk about State papers?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Cabinet papers have been released up to 9 June 1944.


Last Updated: 14/09/2010 14:49:00 First Page Previous Page Page of 102 Next Page Last Page