The Forum for Peace and Reconciliation has been established to:
...consult on and examine ways in which lasting peace, stability and reconciliation can be established by agreement among all the people of Ireland, and on the steps required to remove barriers of distrust, on the basis of promoting respect for the equal rights and validity of both traditions and identities.
I suggest that it would be very helpful to the achievement of these objectives if the submissions to the Forum, and, where possible, responses to these submissions, and transcripts of its public hearings, were to be made widely and easily available to all interested groups and individuals. I include here, of course, individuals and organisations within the island of Ireland, but also in Great Britain, and across the globe wherever there are people of Irish or British descent who maintain an interest in the peace and prosperity of this region. I would particularly emphasise the very large community of Irish Americans, of both traditions, who have consistently participated in and contributed to the search for a lasting resolution of the conflict here.
But there are severe difficulties in disseminating this information by any traditional means. Firstly, by its nature, this information becomes available incrementally, and it will tend to be quite extensive. This would cause significant practical difficulties in arranging both expedient and effective distribution of paper copies. Even still, the information would probably be at least some weeks out of date before being received by all interested parties. Furthermore, to be of use, the information would require extensive indexing - but the paper format does not support automated indexing or searching. Finally, of course, it would be very difficult to identify, on a global basis, the interested parties; and anyone "subscribing" late would necessarily suffer additional difficulty in accessing information which has been already disseminated.
All these difficulties disappear if electronic publishing, via the Internet, is adopted instead. Even though the information is incrementally loaded, all information is instantaneously available. Since the information is not conveyed on paper, there is no cost or inconvenience of bulky printing, copying, or physical postage. Since the information is available directly in electronic form, computer based search and indexing can be immediately applied. And finally, there is no need for the Secretariat to attempt to identify and maintain a list of global "subscribers" to this information: once its availability is advertised, and incorporated into the relevant Internet indices, anyone with an Internet connection can access any of the information at any time.