Agriculture state records under wraps

The National Archives has expressed its growing concern and alarm that Department of Agriculture state records have not been transferred for more than 10 years.

The Department of Agriculture is subject to the National Archives Act 1986, which places an obligation on the department to preserve records and to transfer records worthy of permanent preservation to the National Archives when they become 30 years old.

According to acting director of the National Archives, Frances McGee, records were last transferred formally by the Department of Agriculture to the National Archives 10 years ago in 2004. There was one small acquisition of records from a departmental office in 2012, which was received through an intermediary, she added.

“The situation with respect to the transfer of records by the Department of Agriculture is similar to that obtaining in a range of Departments of State and other offices where compliance with the requirement to transfer records has been compromised for several years by the absence of suitable accommodation in the National Archives.

McGee further explained: “The Department of Agriculture and Food is one of those bodies where the National Archives would wish to be able to achieve greater compliance in relation to the transfer of records, particularly those of the Irish Land Commission.

“However, in the absence of accommodation, the National Archives has been obliged to ask bodies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Marine to continue storing large backlogs of records eligible for transfer to the National Archives and such records continue to be stored, often in either valuable office space or kept in storage that must be funded by departments.”

According to the acting director, the developments were increasingly concerning.

“The situation seriously compromises the institution’s ability to discharge its statutory functions and prevents compliance with legal obligations by bodies subject to the National Archives Act 1986,” she added.