Martin McGuinness has said that he was ‘disturbed’ to learn that documents relating to paramilitary decommissioning are among those held in a Boston College archive.

The documents are to remain confidential for 30 years, Boston college has said. The body, which oversees paramilitary decommissioning in Northern Ireland, presented its final report in 2011, reports the BBC.

The entire process was monitored by the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).

Speaking at the British Irish Summit in Dublin Castle on Friday, the deputy first minister said that the information should have remained with both governments.


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"As someone who was very much part of breaking the deadlock on how armed groups could put their weapons beyond use, I am as disturbed as anyone else about the fact that against the backdrop of what we have been listening to, that we now have a situation where the IICD body, obviously with the support of governments, lodged the results of the decommissioning process with Boston College."

"At the time when it was mooted I expressed my clear disapproval of such an approach and made it absolutely clear that the information should have been held by both governments," he said.

In a statement to the BBC, Boston College said, "There is no conceivable reason why the British or Irish governments, which set the terms for the IICD papers when they were sent to the college, would break those terms."

McGuinness’s comments come after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was of "major concern" that the IICD documents were with the college and that the decision to place them there was "potentially damaging to peace and reconciliation".

"These papers catalogue the details of the engagement of paramilitary groups with the decommissioning process and for reasons of security and safety it is imperative that these papers are not made public for a sufficient period of time," he said.

"What is of major concern is that these papers have been given to an institution outside the island of Ireland which is now involved in a major controversy about protecting the integrity of its sealed archive."

In a statement, he said that the IICD detailed the different arrangements made by them for storage of their documentation.

"Papers from political parties setting out their views on decommissioning and other private correspondence received from individuals was deposited by them for safe-keeping in Boston College, subject to an embargo on their disclosure for 30 years," said Mr Shatter.

"Details of the quantity of arms decommissioned by the various paramilitary groups were placed with the US State Department to preserve their security and confidentiality on the basis of the commission's assessment that the time was not right for them to be made public."