What to #20YearRule papers tell us about gender balance in public appointments?

DECLASSIFIED PAPERS from the Department of Economic Development in 1990 show that women accounted for just 1 in 6 of its public appointments. DETI figures for 2015 show that the proportion of female appointees had nearly doubled, and overall OFMdFM figures for 2015 show female appointments at 38%. There is a commitment for gender equality of in-year appointments by 2018, and of all appointees in post by 2021.

Dealing with crisis: 1988 planning in case a Russian satellite landed on NI #20YearRule

DESCLASSIFIED PAPERS record the NI emergency planning in 1988 when a Russian satellite was expected to fall to Earth and had the potential to scatter radioactive debris if its reactor core came down with it. While the risk was low, Home Secretary Douglas Hurd felt that the government should recommend that people stayed indoors if the satellite’s safety system failed and its final orbit passed over the UK.

Church leaders dragged heels in late 1980s over gov appeal to improve community relations #20YearRule

SENIOR CLERICS appear to have been less than enthusiastic in the late 1980s when asked by government to consider the more fulsome involvement of church denominations in improving community relations. “Pressures on the church leaders’ diaries” were blamed for not finding “an opportunity to discuss the issue of the churches’ future role in community relations activities in depth” after months of delay.

Producing Sausage Meat #20yearrule

PRODUCING SAUSAGE MEAT – This is my favourite item from my mid-December stink looking through government papers that would be released on Friday 30 under the 20 Year Rule. The title could have been referring to a report on the state of the pork industry. The papers could have been an evaluation of how best to heat pig farms in the 1980s. It could have pointed to an unbeknownst – or forgotten – health crisis affecting sausages. Instead …

A view of Sprucefield … pre-congestion #20yearrule

Hidden amongst the thousand or so government files released on Friday under the 20 Year Rule are some black and white photographs from the 1960s of the M1 motorway and its Sprucefield junction. Long before the days of early morning congestion at Junction 7! If you call into the Public Records Office and ask to see file DRD/5/1/9, you can flick through the large set of images.

Plain English in civil service communications: brevity combined with clarity #20yearrule

BREVITY AND CLARITY – that’s what the head of the NI Civil Service asked of government communications in a ‘Plain English’ memo circulated in May 1988. “It is an important skill to be able to present complex issues in clear and simple ways … Even in simple letters, a good short word is generally to be preferred to a mediocre longer one.”