First Minister Arlene Foster has officially launched the Divided Society project at Linen Hall Library.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ulster Garden Villages and the Department of Foreign Affairs Peace and Reconciliation Fund, the project will see the digitisation of periodicals and posters from the Troubles and peace process concentrating on the decade from 1990 – 2000.
Speaking at the launch the First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I am delighted to launch this invaluable and totally unique collection of material encompassing over a quarter of a million items relating to ‘The Troubles’ from as far back as 1968.
“The eight-year period digitised as part of this project from 1990-1998 was one of the most momentous and important in Northern Ireland’s recent history. They were undoubtedly years which proved to be pivotal in changing the fabric of our society including two ceasefires, and the ongoing peace negotiations that led to the Belfast Agreement and the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
“The Northern Ireland Executive is committed to further improving community relations by continuing the journey towards a more united, reconciled and shared society. The publication of ‘Together: Building a United Community’ builds on the range of important, and, as this Collection demonstrates, often challenging work that has already taken place.
“This ‘Divided Society’ project is a useful reference point for others seeking to create conditions to explore divisive issues through peaceful means and to promote reconciliation.
“It shows there is so much in our history that continues to impact on our present, but it can also provide important lessons and insights to help shape our future.”
Gavin Carville, Divided Society Project Manager, said: “This archive holds items fundamental to any understanding of the history of Northern Ireland. As a resource it is irreplaceable and must be properly preserved as an historic archive of phenomenal importance. This is the first step in a strategy to eventually digitise the entire Northern Ireland Political Collection.”
Much of this material will also inform the Divided Society Outreach events which will use the Collection to work with local people of all ages on a reminiscence project, along with a GCSE toolkit. Additionally, two exhibitions will be created focusing on political cartoons and the social impact of the Troubles.