David Mowat

Foundation sets out ambition to become GB Oral History Archive

January 28, 2015 | Nick Taylor

Local Warrington MP, David Mowat (Wednesday 28th January 2015), asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to support the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace in an ambition to represent British victims and survivors of ‘the Troubles’ in the creation of an Oral History Archive.

David Mowat spoke during questions to the Secretary of State in the House of Commons.  He welcomed the Stormont House Agreement and the acknowledgement that needs of victims who do not live in Northern Ireland should be recognised.

He mentioned the work of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, in his constituency, an organisation working with British citizens affected by the Troubles.

He asked that the Foundation co-ordinated the input of British contributors to the proposed Oral History Archive.

Dr. Andrew Murrison MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office answered paying tribute to the work of David Mowat in supporting the Peace Centre and stressing the Oral History Archive is for the whole of the UK and looks forward to hearing from all people whether in Warrington of across other parts of the country.

The Stormont House Agreement was reached just prior to Christmas by all Northern Ireland Executive Parties, the British and Irish Governments. It is document that reflects the Foundation’s position in particular in the statement:

‘The needs of victims who do not live in Northern Ireland should also be recognised.’

It also notes that:

The Executive will, by 2016, establish an Oral History Archive to provide a central place for people from all backgrounds (and from throughout the UK and Ireland) to share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles.

As well as collecting new material, this archive will attempt to draw together and work with existing oral history projects.

The sharing of experiences will be entirely voluntary and consideration will be given to protecting contributors, and the body itself, from defamation claims.

The Archive will bring forward proposals on the circumstances and timing of contributions being made public.

The Archive will be independent and free from political interference.

A research project will be established as part of the Archive, led by academics to produce a factual historical timeline and statistical analysis of the Troubles, to report within 12 months.

Nick Taylor, Chief Executive said: “Whilst, the main archive is likely to be established in Northern Ireland, the Foundation believes that we must remember that 17% of those who died, 2000 injured were from Britain alongside an estimated 350,000 who served in the armed forces.

“We think there needs to be an ‘outreach’ office and project based in Britain and as we are the organisation that do this work now would like it to be placed in Warrington.

“It will create jobs and sends a positive peace message if the archive operates both in Northern Ireland and here in Britain.”

The Foundation will be following up the suggestion with the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Executive.