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  The future of CAIN

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Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh


UPDATE ON CAIN (17 February 2021)

On 17 February 2021, Ulster University issued an announcement which stated that it had 'confirmed that its highly regarded CAIN archive will be retained as a live and curated archive'. This decision was made possible because of financial support from Initiatives of Change, and earlier funding from the Reconciliation Fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs. A consultation in 2019 about CAIN had demostrated the high regard in which the Archive is held by academics around the world. See the media reports that followed the announcement.

Media Items

  • Ulster University. (2021). Press Release: CAIN future secured as a live archive, (17 February 2021), [PDF; 119KB].
  • Meredith, Robbie. (2021). The Troubles: Future of Ulster University's archive secured, BBC News NI, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • BBC Radio Foyle, The Breakfast Show. (2021). Interview with Paul Seawright, Executive Dean, Ulster University, about the future of CAIN, at 8.21 am on Wednesday 17 February 2021, [Link available later].
  • Carroll, Rory. (2021). Future of archive on Northern Ireland secured, The Guardian, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • n.a. (2021). Future of Troubles archive secured following donation, The Irish Times, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • Hargan, Garrett. (2021). New funding ensures 'long-term sustainability' of CAIN archive in Derry, Derry Now, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • The Newsroom. (2021). Ulster University's online Troubles archive secured with new injection of funds, News Letter, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • The Newsroom. (2021). Derry-based NI Troubles archive secured with new funding, Derry Journal, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • n.a. (2021). Future of Troubles archive secured with new funding, ITV News, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • Cassoscoop. (2021). Future of Derry-Based Troubles Archive Secured, Derry Daily, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • n.a. (2021). Future of long-running Troubles archive secured with new funding,, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • Black, Rebecca. (PA). (2021). Future of Troubles Archive Secured with New Funding, The Irish News, page 8, (17 February 2021), (on-line version)
  • Black, Rebecca. (PA). (2021). Future of Troubles Archive Secured with New Funding, The Belfast Telegraph, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).
  • Black, Rebecca. (PA). (2021). Future of Troubles Archive Secured with New Funding, Western People, (17 February 2021), (on-line version).


UPDATE ON CAIN (4 May 2020)

Ulster University carried out a final review of the funding situation facing CAIN on Friday 1 May 2020. The university decided that the CAIN archive would move into a transition phase (1 May to 30 October 2020) during which time the archive and website would become an unstaffed, static resource. CAIN, and the wider ARK team, are actively pursuing additional funding and applications are currently under consideration. If additional funding is secured we hope that this decision will be reversed.

Recent Media Items

  • Hargan, Garrett. (2020). 'Troubles archive should be funded long-term', Derry News, page 6, 27 July 2020, [PDF; 439KB].
  • Harte, Lauren. (2020). 'Troubles web archive CAIN at UU saved by Irish Government', The Belfast Telegraph, (24 July 2020: 19:30 BST), (on-line version), [PDF; 1260KB].
  • Hargan, Garrett. (2020). 'Irish government funding saves Derry-based Troubles archive from closure', Derry News, 23 July 2020, (on-line version), [PDF; 529KB].
  • BBC Radio Ulster, Talkback. (2020). Live studio discussion about the funding situation facing CAIN, at 12.45 pm on Tuesday 5 May 2020, (Host: William Crawley; Guests: Sam McBride, Marie Breen Smyth, and Barry McCaffrey), (recording; discussion begins at 46m 00s).
  • O'Neill, Ciaran. (2020). 'Derry-based 'Troubles' archive resource set to be frozen because of a lacking of funding', Derry Now, 5 May 2020 09:24, (on-line version).
  • Kula, Adam. (2020). 'Ulster University to put vast Troubles archive CAIN into suspended animation', News Letter, 4 May 2020 07:00, (on-line version), [PDF; 59KB].


UPDATE ON CAIN (1 March 2020)

As described below, Ulster University set out a timeline of 1 August 2019 to 30 April 2020 for CAIN to secure funding which will cover the cost of operating / staffing the archive. CAIN did achieve two awards in the second half of 2019 (see details in the list of funders) but not sufficient to cover the full cost required. There will be a review by the university before the end of April 2020 and a decision on the future of CAIN announced in May 2020.

Media Item

  • Kula, Adam. (2020). 'Future of Ulster University's historic Troubles archive still shrouded in uncertainty', News Letter, 17 February 2020 07:00, (on-line version); (print edition, 17 February 2020, page ), [PDF; 26KB].


[ 19 June 2019 - PDF version]

Ulster University decision on the consultation

Following the consultation (see earlier note below) about the future of CAIN, Ulster University has decided to allow a nine month period (1 August 2019 to 30 April 2020) for staff to explore the opportunities that have been identified during the consultation process. The aim during that period is to secure funding for two to three years that would permit work to be done on the further development of the CAIN archive and the supporting technology.

If it is not possible to confirm funding offers then a three-month transition programme will be undertaken (1 May 2020 to 31 July 2020) during which CAIN will move to an unstaffed static, archive.

Responses to the consultation

The Ulster University consultation on the future of CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) was held between 7 February and 2 May 2019. There were 103 individual responses and a 'joint letter' [PDF copy] to Ulster University was signed by 439 academics, many of whom added comments. There were 15 media items (see below) which mentioned the consultation. At the end of the consultation the responses were compiled and a summary report attached. This was forwarded to the Senior Leadership Team of the university on 16th May.

The responses were overwhelmingly positive about the value and trustworthiness of the CAIN archive. Many people outlined how they use and depend on the resources. The majority of respondents urged the university to maintain CAIN as a live archive with dedicated staff to add new materials, carry out updates, and answer queries. All the staff within the university who have seen the responses were impressed by the global reach of CAIN and the respect with which it is held by many academics and others.

The university and CAIN would like to thank all those who took the time to respond in such a positive way to the consultation. We hope that it will prove possible to draw advice or assistance from respondents in finding sustainable funding that will enrich the resources and secure the archive for future generations.

Following the close of the consultation a number of follow-up meetings and discussions were held. A range of options were outlined. CAIN is helping to organise a workshop in July which will focus on lessons that can be learned from archivists at institutions in the US, UK, and Europe.

While short-term funding applications will still be submitted as opportunities arise, the preference of CAIN and senior staff is to engage with potential funders around the possibility of core funding for a period of two to three years. This would allow a major overhaul of the technology of the CAIN website and a wide range of updates to be carried out to the primary information and source materials on the site. So, university staff and CAIN will be organising a workshop in September to bring together potential funders and to outline to them how the content on the archive could be presented in a fresh way for specific groups of users.

Source of funding for the extension

Recognising that it will require additional time to secure this core funding, ARK (Northern Ireland's social policy hub) and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, have agreed to allocate reserves of funding to cover the cost of keeping CAIN staff in post for one year from 1 August 2019. Thus the immediate closure of CAIN as a live archive has been lifted. During the first nine months (1 August 2019 to 30 April 2020) CAIN will remain an active archive and staff will attempt to secure the longer-term funding. If this funding cannot be found, then work will be undertaken to convert CAIN to an unstaffed, static archive during the three months from 1 May to 31 July 2020.

The CAIN staff would like to thank ARK and the Dean for deciding to support CAIN during a renewed attempt to secure longer-term funding. CAIN staff also thank the local representatives of the UCU and other academic colleagues for their support during the consultation process.

Further updates will be added to this webpage.


Dr Martin Melaugh

Professor Ann Marie Gray

Professor Kristian Lasslett

CAIN Director

ARK Co-Director
Professor of Social Policy

Head of the School of Applied Social and Policy Studies


Anyone requiring additional information can contact the CAIN Director:


Dr Martin Melaugh

Job Title:

CAIN Director

Postal Address:

Room MD141, INCORE


Magee Campus, Ulster University


Northland Road




Northern Ireland


BT48 7JL




00 44 (0)28 7167 5517




Media Items

Information about the outcome of the consultation has appeared in the media recently:

  • Hargan, Garrett. (2019). 'Short reprieve for Magee's CAIN archive', Derry News, Monday 24 June 2019, page 1 and 2, (on-line version), [PDF; 5210KB].
  • Halliday, Gillian. (2019). 'Online Troubles archive CAIN gets a year to find future funding', The Belfast Telegraph, page 21, (21 June 2019), (on-line version), [PDF; 73KB].

See other media items below related to the consultation phase.

Consultation on the future of CAIN - Ended 2nd May

[Original note, 25 February 2019; Last updated 3 June 2019]

Ulster University held a 12-week consultation about the future of the CAIN Web Service. This consultation ran from 7th February to 2nd May 2019.

As users of CAIN will be aware, the website holds a large archive of information and source materials on the Northern Ireland and politics in the region. This archive has been freely available on-line since March 1997. New materials added on a regular basis. This is a unique academic and civic resource, but resource-building work is also increasingly challenging to fund.

Over the last few years the level of research grant income has not matched the cost of providing the service. Ulster University has met the shortfall duing this period but is keen to find a way to make the resource sustainable in the long term.

A consultation was held on the future of CAIN as a live research project. If that is not possible then the staff would be made redundant and on-line access would be ensured by making CAIN a special digital collection within the University's Library. However, in the absence of dedicated staff, no new material would be added, no updates carried out, and no queries or permission requests would be dealt with.

Following the ending of the consultation the responses are being reviewed. The University will explore the ideas and proposals made during the process. The outcome of this process will be made known in due course. Anyone with a query regarding the consultation should contact Dr Martin Melaugh:

Contacting CAIN

Name: Dr Martin Melaugh
Job Title: CAIN Director
Postal Address: Room MD141, INCORE
  Magee Campus, Ulster University
  Northland Road
  Northern Ireland
Postcode: BT48 7JL
Tel: 00 44 (0)28 7167 5517

Media Items

Information about the consultation has appeared in the media recently:

  • Fitzpatrick, Maurice. (2019). 'University of Ulster turns its back on Derry at worst possible time', opinion piece, The Irish Times, page 12, (3 June 2019), (on-line version), [PDF; 178KB].
  • BBC Radio Ulster, Talkback. (2019). Recorded interview with Martin Melaugh (CAIN Director), and live follow-up interviews with Alex Kane and Susan McKay, about the future of CAIN, at 12.45 pm on Wednesday 1 May 2019 (recording; interview begins at 45m 05s).
  • n.a. (2019). 'Durkan: Defer CAIN decision until City Deal secured', Derry Now, (30 April 2019), (on-line version), [PDF; 22KB]
  • Carroll, Rory. (2019). 'Academic vandalism' - unique archive of the Troubles under threat, The Guardian, p.37 (Education Section), (30 April 2019), (on-line version), [PDF; 852KB].
  • Hargan, Garrett. (2019). 'Yale professor denounces UU decision to 'abandon' Mageee Troubles resource', Derry News, Thursday 21 March 2019, page 5, (on-line version), [PDF; 2057KB].
  • The Pat Kenny Show. (2019). Interview by Pat Kenny of Dr Conor Mulvagh (UCD lecturer) about the future of the CAIN website, The Pat Kenny Show, Newstalk FM, Thursday 14 Mach 2019, (Listen Back, interview begins at 01:28:15).
  • Hargan, Garrett. (2019). 'Madness' - Ulster University faces backlash after threatened closure of Magee's CAIN archive, Derry News, Monday 4 March 2019, page 8, (on-line version), [PDF; 2475KB].
  • Staff Reporter. (2019). Threat to university Troubles website 'shameful', News Letter, 3 March 2019 15:48, (on-line version); (print edition, 4 March 2019, page 9), [PDF; 1899KB].
  • Horgan, Goretti. (2019). 'The world-famous CAIN Troubles archive must not be allowed to gather dust', Belfast Telegraph, Friday 1 March 2019, page 37, (on-line version), [PDF; 481KB]
  • Staff Reporter. (2019). 'Future of 'Troubles' archive in doubt', Derry Journal, Friday 1 March 2019, p 14, [PDF; 872KB]
  • Staff Reporter. (2019). 'Archive of Northern Ireland Troubles to close', Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday 26 February 2019, (online edition).
  • BBC Radio Ulster, Evening Extra. (2019). Interview with Goretti Horgan, UCU representative, about the future of the CAIN website, at 5.30 pm on Monday 25 February 2019, (recording; interview begins at 38m 25s).
  • BBC News. (2019). 'Troubles website 'CAIN' faces cuts', BBC News website, Monday 25 February 2019, [PDF; 74KB].
  • The Mark Patterson Show. Mark Patterson interviewed Eamonn McCann about the future of CAIN, on BBC Radio Foyle, at 1.30 pm on Monday 25 February 2019, (recording; interview begins at 2m 50s).
  • Hargan, Garrett. (2019). 'Threat to Magee University resource and associated jobs 'contradicts' the university expansion plans', Derry News, Thursday 21 February 2019, page 20, (on-line version), [PDF; 2151KB].


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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