Northern Ireland

Public Records Office puts 13,000 coroners' files online

Public Records office Image copyright Pacemaker Press
Image caption The public records office stores millions of documents

The Public Records Office has made available an online index of more than 13,000 files from coroners' inquests.

The records are for the years 1969-1999 and include information on about 3,000 deaths in the Troubles.

People can search a database to find out what files are held.

The records may include inquest verdicts, post-mortem reports, witness statements, police documents and photographs.

If members of the public want to see the records, they can make a request for access under the Freedom of Information Act.

Culture Minister Carál ní Chiulín, as keeper of the records, will consider each case individually.

'Instinct towards disclosure'

She said she would bear in mind that some material in the records was distressing and could cause more trauma to the families.

But the minister added: "These are public records, in a public building and they should be made public to the public.

"My instinct will always be towards disclosure."

Her officials will consult with the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Justice in order to help make the decision.

The Public Records Office already receives 100-200 requests for coroners' files every year.

Archivists expect to see an increase in the number of inquiries now that the online index is up and running.

David Huddleston from the Public Records Office said: "This will be a valuable resource for families who want to know what happened to their loved ones, and for different groups who are researching the past."

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) holds millions of documents from government departments and public organisations such as law courts.

Some records date back several hundred years.

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