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National Archives launches 1990 Government files exhibition

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin TD, today announced the launch of the National Archives online exhibition of 1990 Government files which was recently released under the 30-Year Rule.

The new exhibition will ensure that despite the National Archives building being closed under the current level five restrictions, the public can still access these records which cover a broad range of events in 1990.

Notable events which are included in the exhibition is Nelson Mandela visiting Ireland after his release from prison, Ireland holding the EU Presidency , German Re-unification and the early beginnings of the Northern Ireland peace process.

Minister Martin said: “I am pleased to announce the launch of the National Archives online exhibition of the 1990 Government files.

“This is an exceptional resource that includes archived state papers that relate to both landmark international and domestic events in our history.

“The range and diversity of the documents will interest and engage not only historians and those with an interest in history and politics but the general public too.

“These archives traditionally shed light on untold stories and offer fresh glimpses into our shared past.

“And I expect the phenomenal work the archive teams have done in making the files available this year-in extraordinary circumstances-will again reward those who have strong interests in the government papers.”

Director of the National Archives, Orlaith McBride said “the National Archives is delighted to have released the 1990 State Papers under the 30 year rule as part of an interesting on-line exhibition that is available to the public.”

McBride said that that the online archive gives people the chance to view a signifncant time in Irish history.

“With the closure of the National Archives due to the level five Covid-19 restrictions, this online resource provides a fascinating insight into some of the events in our recent history that will interest people of all ages.”

The 1990 State Papers cover the following events/topics:


  • Ireland EU Presidency, January to June 1990, (including visit of European Commission to Ireland, January 1990; Taoiseach’s tour of capitals, Bonn, Rome and Paris, 28-29 March 1990; Summit, Dublin, April 1990; European Council, Dublin, June 1990);
  • German Re-unification;
  • Eastern Europe – fallout from the break-up of the USSR.



  • Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait;
  • Release of Nelson Mandela;
  • Visit to Ireland by Nelson Mandela, July 1990;
  • Trilateral Commission: report of discussions on Israel/Palestine problem by Dr Garret FitzGerald for Trilateral Commission.



  • Beginnings of the Peace Process;
  • Gibraltar shootings;
  • Anglo-Irish relations;
  • Prison conditions – Birmingham Six/Guildford Four;
  • Shooting of Aidan McAnespie by the British Army at the Aughnacloy, County Tyrone border checkpoint;
  • IRA activity in Britain;
  • Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conferences.



  • Stardust disaster: draft vol. 2 report of Tribunal;
  • Train derailment at Claremorris, County Mayo;
  • Air accident inquest: EI-BVV crash at Mulhuddart, County Dublin;
  • Submarines in Irish waters;
  • AIDS: public information campaign;
  • Air Pollution Act, 1987;
  • Taoiseach Charles Haughey’s visit to USA, February 1990;
  • Taoiseach Charles Haughey’s visit to Paris, February 1990.


The on-line exhibition is available at

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