THe BBC screened the second of a three part series called Facing the Truth. The last part is screened tonight. It is definately worth watching, precisely because it raises important questions about the telling of stories and the degree to which ‘reconciliation’ can actually be said to take place through such events. Jane Bell explores a number of angles in considering the effectiveness of the programme.My own brief thoughts:
– It underlines the power of simple story telling. The stories of the ‘victims’ were extremely powerful and, to an extent, had the effect of drawing a line between the relative civility of ‘now’ and the ferocious hatred of ‘then’.
– There was something arbitrary (though probably inevitable) about the mismatch of the pairings. It may be different tonight, but none of the people last night were paired off against the relatives of those they’d killed. This makes it hard to judge how real the intercourse is, or how much we can judge as viewers the ‘process’ such as it is, has been effective.
– There is little doubt that the sympathy (and most of the interest) of the viewer is immediately drawn to the ‘victims’ (an epithet one RUC man who lost his arms in one IRA squarely rejected). As such the stated motivations of the ‘killers’ came over as hollow.
– There were no unreconciled victims. And for that matter, no unreconcilable killers. Again this given the simple format and the requirements of the medium, this may not have been practical or even possible. But it is part of the real mix on the ground.
Despite the above misgivings, I will be watching again tonight. As a first step, it is important that these stories (and many other less intense experiences) of the troubles are heard. Not to hold us to the past, but to allow the maximum number of us to move into a more open and optimistic future!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty