The media’s role in peacebuilding: none of its business?

So is peacebuilding none of the media’s business? That was a conclusion that broadcaster and journalist, Declan Harvey, posed to a panel of fellow journalists and writers at an online webinar delivered through Belfast City Council’s PEACE IV Programme, which is funded through the EU and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Panellists Alex Kane, Amanda Ferguson, and Leona O’Neill shared their perspectives and experiences of reporting in Northern Ireland, answering questions from Declan Harvey and those submitted by …

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‘Politicians will argue, they will fight over it and they will come up with reasons for not dealing with the past’

It was hoped that the Patten reforms would herald a new start for policing in Northern Ireland, but, argues Denis Bradley, the PSNI remains burdened with its legacy from the old RUC. Denis is a former vice-chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past. He was talking in the latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust. “In the setting-up of the PSNI, the new service inherited, carried with it, the deeds …

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‘My coping mechanism is talking, seeking peace and reconciliation’

  Alan McBride’s personal journey is well known, but remarkable nonetheless. It was in 1993 that his wife Sharon and her father Desmond Frizzell were killed in an IRA bomb attack on the family fish shop in Belfast’s Shankill Road. But with immense dignity, Alan has since dedicated his life to reconciliation and progress, as well as campaigning on behalf of victims. He is the latest interviewee in the Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts. Alan admits that initially after Sharon …

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From Northern Ireland to the US, from 1968 to today, the camera is a powerful catalyst for change

The  horrific  image  of policemen in Minneapolis  caught in the act of slowly  choking  George Floyd to death  has prompted the thought :  how  different would have been the course of the Troubles if  they’d been waged under the eyes of  24/7  live news coverage and video cameras with sound on mobile phones?    Would a whole race of citizen journalists,  citizen terrorists and citizen security forces have been created  all videoing each other like crazy? Might violence amounting  to …

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What is justice anyway?

What is justice? The answer might be obvious, but in past Forward Together podcast interviews it has been noticeable that the responses to that question have been inconsistent. While parts of political unionism seem focused on the judicial process for acts going back to the Troubles, the response by some in republicanism has been that the core of justice is about creating a fair society today. Daniel Holder, deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, tells the …

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Northern Ireland’s mental health crisis

Mental health is a global challenge, but poor mental health is at crisis levels in Northern Ireland. That crisis is in part an ongoing impact from the Troubles, Siobhan O’Neill, professor of mental health science at Ulster University, says in the latest Holywell Trust podcast. “We’re seeing a rise in mental health problems in the Western world,” says Siobhan. “We know that around one in four or one in five people in Europe and the West have a mental health …

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Lost Lives Reminds us we can’t Forget…

For Terry Maguire, a recent BBC programme, Lost Lives, featuring deaths in the Troubles, triggered a flashback on his way to work. This caused him to reflect on an incident he witnessed as a schoolboy in Derry in 1972, making him reassess his long-held view that the Troubles had no personal impact. As I walked to work in darkness one morning in 2020, work tasks and concerns swirled unhelpfully in my half-awakened mind. When I reached the entrance of the …

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Considering Grace: An invitation to listen

Considering Grace: An invitation to listen by Allan LEONARD for Shared Future News 5 November 2019 Considering Grace, by Gladys Ganiel and Jamie Yohanis, is a new book that explores how Presbyterians responded to the Troubles, through a series of narratives from 120 people who tell their stories of how they coped with trauma and tests of their faith. The book was launched with a set of readings and short presentations at Assembly Buildings, Belfast, to an audience of several …

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Behind the scenes of Spotlight on The Troubles: Willie Frazer, Alan Oliver, Patrick Ryan, and ongoing questions about ‘The Secret War’ film (Thu 9pm on BBC One NI)

At a screening of the behind-the-scenes companion show about the making of Spotlight on The Troubles (to be broadcast next week on Thursday at 9pm after the final extended episode airs on Tuesday at 8.30pm), Mandy McAuley explained her shock when victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer – with whom she had worked while making programmes about victims for two decades – admitted to his role in the distribution of weapons to loyalist paramilitaries. Further questions about the making and suppression of US film The Secret War that captured footage of the IRA at work, and the painstaking efforts to line up interviews and tie down evidence is explained.

Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History (ep 6) – Mid-Ulster UVF gang members who avoided being charged for murder (Tuesday 15 October at 9pm on BBC One NI and BBC Four)

The penultimate episode of Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History asks why some UVF members of a Mid-Ulster gang escaped prosecution – confronting an alleged prolific serial killer – and asks whether there was a deliberate loyalist strategy to kill family members of committed republicans during the late 1980s and early 1990s, during what is described as “the final burst of violence” before the ceasefires? Tuesday evening at 9pm on BBC One NI and BBC Four.

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan

The polite rebel: Sheelagh Murnaghan by Allan LEONARD 3 October 2019 Sheelagh Murnaghan was the only Liberal Party MP (1961-69) in the Northern Ireland Parliament, representing the constituency of Queen’s University Belfast, which was the venue for a launch event of a new biography about her remarkable life. There were many Murnaghan family members in the audience of a few dozen attending. The book, Sheelagh Murnaghan, was commissioned by the Albert McElroy Memorial Fund, which was established to commemorate the …

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The Unresolved Conflict Begins (August 1969)…

I am not sure why the early part of Thursday 14th August 1969 seems so ordinary. There was a certain feeling that the storm had passed. There was a sense of shame looking at the self-inflicted damage on the Falls Road after the night before. A certain excitement maybe that some of us had heard gunfire on Wednesday night. And a certain pleasure that the RUC had been defeated and humiliated in the Bogside. The news said they would be …

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“You want to do them justice and to do their stories justice.” Telling the stories of the children who died in the Troubles.

“We’ve done interviews with just shy of 100 families who lost children during the Troubles,” explains Freya McClements. “And you feel like you know them. The thing above all is that you want to do them justice and to do their stories justice.” Freya is discussing the research that she and Joe Duffy have done for their book Children of the Troubles, which is published in October. She describes the opportunity to write the book as “a privilege”. Freya admits …

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‘Unless we start listening, we’re not going to move forward’

“Unless we start listening, we’re not really going to move forward,” says Julieann Campbell, editor of the Unheard Voices collection of women’s stories from the Troubles. She was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. Julieann reflects in the podcast on the impact on her of the interviews with women about their experiences in the Troubles. “I think it has affected me on several levels, emotionally and in my work,” she says. “It is a fact that it has made …

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August 1969: A New Football Season…

The priority for my family in August 1969 was getting a new house. Our house in that “mixed” street in West Belfast was falling down. Literally. As you walked into the street, you could see a row of houses lean backwards. The house, like most in the street was “condemned”. Sooner or later it would be knocked down, either as slum clearance or “for the road”. Ah yes, “the road” was a big thing in 1969. There were plans to …

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Deal with disadvantage before unity, argues Senator Mark Daly

To achieve a united Ireland without a return to conflict requires northern society to resolve the problems of its communities that contain deep-seated deprivation and alienation, argues Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly.  Mark is the former chair of the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Implementation Committee and was interviewed for the latest Forward Together podcast shortly after the release of his report, ‘Returning to violence as a result of a hard border due to Brexit or a rushed border poll: risks …

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The 50th Anniversary of the Start of the Troubles and the Last “Normal” July…

As next month marks the 50th Anniversary of the Start of the Troubles, I expect there will be some reflective or revisionist discussion. As they say, if you can remember the 1960s, you were not there. And if you can remember the start of the Troubles….well it won’t stop people remembering even though they were still in their mother’s womb at the time. That’s the norm at events at An Féile anyway. Of course many will say the Troubles started …

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‘Stephen Nolan needs to find the right balance – and not make angry people angrier’

Stephen Nolan needs to find the right balance between allowing people to express their emotions, without making angry people even angrier. The plea was made in the latest Forward Together podcast by Sinn Fein MLA and former finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir. “In this often divided society, I think the tone and timbre of the debate has to be respectful,” says Máirtín. “We have to find ways of not feeding the ratings monster, not sectarianising a discussion, which has huge sectarian …

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‘Let’s look again at the Eames-Bradley approach to the past’

The Eames-Bradley report was the best approach yet to how Northern Ireland should deal with Troubles legacy issues, argues Mark Durkan.  The former SDLP leader and deputy first minister was interviewed for the ‘Forward Together’ podcast series immediately before declaring his candidacy for Fine Gael for the Dublin constituency in the European Parliament elections. Mark argues that the proposals tabled for the 2013 talks mediated by US envoy Richard Haass were “not as good as Eames-Bradley”.  The challenge is also …

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Free Event: History in the Making – The Ulster Museum and the ‘Troubles and Beyond’…

On Good Friday 2018, the Ulster Museum opened its doors, and its collections, to a new commemorative exhibition entitled ‘The Troubles and Beyond’. Displayed across hundreds of objects and images, the gallery documents social, political, and cultural changes in Northern Ireland from the civil rights era to today’s post-conflict society. The ‘Troubles’ affected almost everyone who lived in Northern Ireland and many others from further afield. Inevitably the interpretation of this period of our history is contested in terms of …

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