The Troubles: Future of Ulster University's archive secured

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

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Image source, Ulster University
Image caption,
The Cain archive documents the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland

The future of an important archive of Northern Ireland's Troubles run by Ulster University (UU) has been secured due to £150,000 of funding.

Cain - Conflict Archive on the Internet - covers the history, key events and political issues concerning the Troubles, dating back to 1968.

Based at UU's Magee campus in Londonderry, its future and staffing had been in doubt.

But the new funding means the archive will be retained and will expand.

It will also pay the salary costs of three staff.

Cain has been freely available online since March 1997 and new material about politics and society continues to be added to it.

Image source, Ulster University
Image caption,
A vast amount of images from the Troubles are available through the Cain archive

It includes thousands of documents, photographs, articles and biographies, and is widely used by academics and students researching the recent history of Northern Ireland.

A UU spokesperson said that the funding from Initiatives for Change was for two years but would ensure the future of the archive for longer.

"The enhancements will ensure the long-term sustainability of Cain by reducing the cost and complexity of maintaining the archive and making it possible for more academics to get involved in the curation of relevant and engaging materials," they said.

"The university is also making funds available to invest in the technology that will enhance the experience for all those who use the popular platform and it will support the salary costs of three staff.

"The team of three who work on Cain continue to be based at Ulster University's Magee campus.

"The site has always been an online archive and this support will ensure that it benefits both those who contribute and those who visit the site."

Media caption,
The roots of Northern Ireland’s Troubles lie deep in Irish history

The Irish Government's Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund has also provided project funding to enable a chronology of the conflict on Cain to be completed.

Professor Paul Seawright from UU said the archive would be updated using new technology.

"This investment is a historic opportunity to incorporate a range of new digital technologies that have emerged over the past two decades, and to reach new audiences," he said.

"It is our ambition that Cain will be a fascinating and lively online space for young people and educators wanting to connect with and understand the past.

"We look forward to continuing to record so many of the important, more hidden histories of our past that are critical to understanding who we are today."