Influence of Birmingham Six's case on Anglo-Irish relations recorded in latest National Archive's release

Influence of Birmingham Six's case on Anglo-Irish relations recorded in latest National Archive's release
November 22 1974: Firemen survey the damage outside the Birmingham pub, 'Tavern in the Town', after an IRA bomb blast. Picture: Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images

Over 900 documents related to the Troubles in Northern Ireland during the period 1986-1988 have been released by the National Archives. 

The batch of releases concerns a number of critical events during the period including the aftermath of the Enniskillen Bomb in November 1987 and the killings in Gibraltar in 1988.

Ahead of a Remembrance Sunday memorial ceremony on November 8 1987, an IRA bomb exploded without warning in one of the most infamous incidents of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.  

On March 6 1988 three unarmed members of the IRA were shot dead by the British Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar as part of Operation Flavius. 

Various political, legal and security matters are also included in the documents such as the high profile cases of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four. 

The challenges these cases presented for government relations between Britain and Ireland are recorded in the documents along with the contentious issue of extradition for terrorist offences. 

Released as part of an ongoing partnership between the University of Ulster and the National Archives, 960 documents will be made available on the Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN) website.

Speaking about the document release, Dr Brendan Lynn, Ulster University’s CAIN Deputy Director said the release allows the project to continue its long-term pursuit of wider public access to historical sources. 

Dr Lynn said: "Ulster University and CAIN are once again pleased to have been able to work with the National Archives of Ireland to update the existing section which will now provide users with material spanning the years from 1965 to 1988. 

"In addition, it has allowed CAIN to continue with its long-term objective of working with individuals, groups or organisations with relevant information to produce digital versions of their material and make it much more accessible to a wider audience."

Dr Lynn also thanked the Department of Foreign Affair's Reconciliation Fund for providing support to the partnership between CAIN and the National Archives of Ireland. 

CAIN provides an extensive range of source material on the conflict and politics of Northern Ireland from 1968 to the present day. 

The site is used by a worldwide audience and has received over 23 million visits.

Catherine Martin, Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, said the release demonstrates the importance of providing free access to public records for research. 

Ms Martin said: "This collaboration between CAIN and the National Archives clearly demonstrates the importance and value of providing free access to public records so that they can be used by researchers, academics, teachers, students and the wider public to better understand the social, political and historical contexts that shape our society. 

"These records offer an invaluable insight into the difficult years leading up to the eventual ceasefire and peace process in Northern Ireland.”

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