A report finds that there has been a lack of investment in Ireland's national archives.

Urgent action is needed to ensure the preservation of documents relating to Ireland's past.

The National Archives consist of one and a half billion documents.

The findings of a recent report on our national heritage says documents held by the National Archives of Ireland need to be catalogued and preserved appropriately. At present many of these valuable documents are being stored in an inappropriate environment, stacked high on pallets in a warehouse.

Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Michael D Higgins has acknowledged that these storage conditions are inadequate. Archivists have warned that vital pieces of our national history are in danger of being lost.

Action needs to be taken now.

Archivist Frances McKee says that the archives need to be preserved in an environment that is conducive to their long term preservation, something which should be expected in any national archive.

Included in the collections at risk is a book containing a bullet hole from the Four Courts in 1922. Other documents in the collections are disintegrating due to the storage conditions.

Minister Higgins has accepted a report that now details what needs to be done to preserve our national heritage. He also accepted that not enough has been done to ensure correct preservation procedures are followed and he says that the National Archives need to be better resourced.

The report recommends a £12 million investment which for the moment will have to wait.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 13 June 1996. The reporter is Paschal Sheehy.