When Terror Gets Old: an insight into ex-combatants

One of the legacies of any conflict are men and women who took part and survived. In the case of Northern Ireland, some of those players are now reaching pension age. Many ex-combatants from the Troubles are publicity shy; only a minority speak out publicly about their experiences.

Corinne Purtill is senior correspondent in the UK for the US-based GlobalPost news organisation. This week she has published a series of articles to accompany a 15 minute video that explores what happens “When Terror Gets Old”.

Corinne Purtill Mark Oltmanns When Terror Gets Old screenshot 1Videographer Mark Oltmanns‘ beautiful shots captures contributions from former loyalist and republican combatants.

Each brought their very personal reflections of the actions that they had taken, their impressions of the peace process and their analysis of what may happen in NI in years to come.

A real mixture of remorse, disappointment and disillusionment along with admissions about levels of alcohol dependency.

Corinne Purtill Mark Oltmanns When Terror Gets Old screenshot 2Despite being an outsider who grew up with the tail end of the conflict and the emerging peace process as international news on US television, Corinne non-sensationally captures the mood of a sample of Troubles activists who are often ignored in favour of only telling the stories of their victims. Corinne spoke to me about her report this afternoon.

One of the articles that accompanies the video looks at what lessons the Troubles can teach us about the global War(s) on Terror. Does the historical treatment of Irish communities in Great Britain – guilty by association – during the Troubles mirror how Muslim communities are treated there today? Are misunderstandings about the motives and characterisation of activists in the Troubles being repeated with Western views of Al Qaeda and IS? Will the violence in each conflict eventually reduce?

You can follow Corinne Purtill’s UK coverage on GlobalPost’s website and on Twitter.


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