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Behind the Scenes: Media Preview 2022

Under the National Archives Act of 1986, archives of Government Departments that became 30 years old on 31 December 2022 are now available for inspection by the public in the National Archives. Every December, we host a special preview for journalists and the media of records that will be released to the general public the following January. Our Reading Room is closed for five days while accredited journalists and other members of the media scour the about-to-be-released files in search of behind-the-scenes information on the events of the day 30 years ago.

Many will be familiar with the widespread coverage in the newspapers, tv and across various platforms of the “annual release of State Papers” that traditionally takes place between Christmas and the New Year and there is an embargo on the publication of stories until an agreed date after 27 December each year. The media preview for 2022 took place on 5–9 December last with the majority of almost 10,000 records now publicly released relating to Irish and international affairs in 1992.

Following the introduction of the National Archives (Amendment) Act, 2018, Anglo-Irish records of certain departments ranging in date between 1996 and 2002 relating specifically to the peace process in Northern Ireland (including the Good Friday Agreement of 1998) were also made available for inspection. Naturally there was huge interest amongst the media in this material released by the Departments of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs, Justice and the Office of the Attorney General and it formed the focus of much of their coverage.

Over the course of last month’s media preview, we hosted 25 journalists from Irish and international newspapers and press agencies. On a sad note, we would like to pay tribute to one of those journalists who had long been a reader at the National Archives and participant in the media preview for many years, including our most recent one. A great favourite with all staff who came in contact with him, Brian Hutton died unexpectedly on 31 December. His articles on the State Papers featured extensively in The Irish Times and the 2023 preview will not be the same without him.

The archives released to the public earlier this month are available to consult in our Reading Room on Bishop Street from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and we look forward to welcoming you in to use them!

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