Many people remain hopeful that the violent conflict in Northern Ireland will end in the near future. 'The Troubles' represent the violent expression of the different constitutional, political, religious and cultural allegiances of the two main communities. It is recognised, however, that an end to the violence will not in itself heal the serious fracture in Northern Ireland society. The divisions in Northern Ireland have been present for over 300 years and will continue. These divisions and the period of 'the Troubles' will continue to be of interest to academics, and others, for many years to come.
The CAIN  (Conflict Archive on the INternet) Project aims to provide information on the Northern Ireland conflict and to offer an insight into the nature of society in the region. CAIN is one of the projects funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) under the eLib Programme. The CAIN Project started in January 1996 and the initial phase will be completed in December 1997.
There are three partner institutions involved in the CAIN Project: the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, the Queen's University of Belfast, and the University of Ulster. The University of Ulster acts as lead site for the administration of the Project. Within each of the partner institutions a number of groups and individuals provide support for the Project. In addition to providing information on the conflict, CAIN is recording experiences on a number of matters of importance for eLib including, the issue of copyright, and the problems associated with selecting material which attempts to give an unbiased account of a controversial subject.
There has been a wealth of information, generated over the past 28 years, that could be included at the web site. The majority of the information at the CAIN site will be divided into three main components. The first is a section of 'Background Information'. The other two components will look at 'Key Events' and 'Key Issues' of the conflict. In each of these sections a selection of material will be presented which is representative of events and issues of importance during 'the Troubles'. A substantial part of the material presented will be in the form of text specifically written for the CAIN Project. In addition there will be: text from documents produced by a wide range of individuals and organisations, scanned images of a range of material, photographs, and audio and video clips.
The CAIN service is being designed principally for researchers and students who have an academic interest in the study of conflicts in general, or the Northern Ireland 'Troubles' in particular. The service will also be of benefit to lecturers preparing and delivering undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes in peace and conflict studies. In addition the content will be relevant to courses in other areas of the humanities and social sciences. The service will, of course, be available to anyone who has access to the Internet.