Lord Bew called for an official history of the NIO, including the peace process.
The peer does not claim past official histories have provided “absolute truth”, but “have given us ... more truth”.
Official histories, such as the recent acclaimed Official History of MI6, written by Bew’s fellow Queen’s professor Keith Jeffries, are commissioned by the Government and based on documents that are normally blocked to historians under a 30-year rule on the release of official papers.
“We’re now moving towards a 20-year rule,” Bew noted.
“My argument is for a move to a 15-year rule.”
“The role of the British state is central,” Lord Bew said.
“It’s paid for the proceedings. It’s played the leading role in the peace process – by some long way, and I accept that the Irish government and the Americans had a certain role.”
He said that the British government is aware “that there is an imbalance” in the history. But officials felt that they could save money on a history because papers were being released under the 20-year rule, making it easier for historians.
The 20-year rule, he said, “takes you to 1993 but not to ‘98”. “It would be better to have a book out now,” he said.