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Future of long-running Troubles archive secured with new funding

Cain has been a free online resource since March 1997.

File photo. IRA mural in Belfast
File photo. IRA mural in Belfast
Image: Paul Faith/PA Images

THE FUTURE OF a long-running Troubles archive has been secured.

Cain is an online collection of information and materials related to Northern Ireland’s troubled past and politics.

Now a donation by Initiatives of Change will enable it to be sustainable as a live, curated archive, the Ulster University has announced.

It comes after a campaign by the university and Cain to secure the future of the website, which has been a free online resource since March 1997.

The funding will also support a significant modernisation of the site, including the introduction of cutting-edge archival content management.

Professor Paul Seawright, executive dean of UU’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said the archive will be overhauled to benefit both the academics who contribute to it and the thousands of visitors to the site.

“Cain entirely reflects university’s continued teaching and research leadership in the field of peace and conflict studies and will be integral to our new Graduate Academy for Peace and Social Justice, which we are introducing this Spring,” he said.

“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.

“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.

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“We appreciate the input and support of the many individuals and organisations who contributed to our consultation and who continue to work with us in securing the sustained investment to ensure Cain remains a trusted, influential and current resource long into the future.”

Alec McRitchie, a member of the Initiatives of Change Committee in Ireland, described the Cain archive as a “unique historical record of an important period in Anglo-Irish relations”.

“It includes stories of people addressing the legacy of history such as those of Protestant and English people who attended cross-community Bible study meetings at Clonard Monastery in Belfast, recorded on Cain by Trinity scholar and surgeon, the late Dr Roddy Evans,” he said.

“The archive has important educational benefits for this, and future generations and we are pleased to play our part in enabling it to be maintained as a live archive.”

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