Not a great week for the police…

police, cop, police uniforms

The Sarah Everard murder is the stuff of nightmares. A serving police officer, Wayne Couzens showed a warrant card and used handcuffs as he kidnapped Ms Everard before her rape and murder. Thankfully he was caught fairly quickly and he will spend the rest of his days behind bars. But the Met has a lot to do to restore public confidence in the police, especially amongst women. If you have not watched it yet the BBC documentary Bent Coppers: Crossing …

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The legacy of the past can still be felt in today’s political relationships, warns O’Neill

Legacy is being discussed at length at present, following the British government’s proposals to abandon prosecutions and investigations related to Troubles’ events. But there is another toxic legacy – the impact of past events on current political relationships. That aspect of legacy is discussed with Sinn Féin Vice President and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast.  Michelle argues that political leaders must work hard to build trust, to enable the political system here to …

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Maps and metaphors guide the way to resolving conflict

Sir George Bain served as Vice Chancellor of Queens University Belfast from 1998-2004 Northern Ireland (or is it the North of Ireland?) is often described as ‘emerging’ from 30 years of violence known as ‘the Troubles’, 22 years after they were officially ended by an agreement whose name cannot be universally agreed. The power-sharing Executive and Assembly have finally been restored after a three-year hiatus. Promised measures for dealing with the legacy of the conflict have come and gone: the …

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Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History (episode 5): a dirty war with unionist political support for loyalist insurrection, security service and government support for collusion (BBC One NI and BBC Four at 9pm)

Watching a preview of tonight’s fifth episode of Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History  left me feeling sick in the pit of my stomach. Not out of surprise, or at the scale of atrocities featured, but out of disillusionment at the actions and powerful words of so-called leaders of the community. Condemning republican violence out of one side of their mouths, while encouraging sedition out of the other. Unionists may well have felt under siege, with UDR, RUC and …

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A Lament for the Lost Lives of the Troubles (QFT from Friday 11 October)

Lost Lives is a beautiful film about a grim period of local history. The sober spoken words strike into your sou;. It is art, hung on a wide cinematic screen in a dark gallery that doubles as a cinema screen. It’s provocative, raw, touching, and melancholy. It’s a lamentation rather than a documentary. It’s not over. But it should be. And it must be.

Spotlight #3 – IRA fundraising, arms shipments, a priest’s lack of repentance, and the slow shift from the armalite to the ballot box #TheTroubles (9pm Tue 24 Sep on BBC One NI and BBC Four)

The third episode of Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History includes an interview with former parish priest Patrick Ryan who looks back on his times organising weapons shipments to Ireland, saying that he has “big regrets … I regret that I wasn’t even more effective … I would like to have been much more effective that I was … but we didn’t do too badly.”

Spotlight on the Troubles #2: intermediaries, talks, ceasefires and a mounting death toll (Tue 17 Sep at 9pm on BBC One NI and BBC Four)

The second episode in BBC Spotlight’s seven-part series A Secret History of the Troubles picks up the conflict timeline in 1972 and runs through to 1979. The programme will be broadcast tonight at 9pm on BBC One NI and BBC Four. The key themes explored are the changing of the guard within the IRA that hardened attitudes towards ceasefires and opened the door to ‘the long war’; figures and initiatives that kept communication channels between the British and the IRA …

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Spotlight on the Troubles: a Secret History (BBC One NI and BBC Four, Tue 10 Sep)

Allegations about a financial link between Paisley and the UVF in the late 1960s and newly discovered footage of Martin McGuinness showing a firearm and bullets to Derry kids and inspecting a car bomb are just part of the story of the beginning of four decades of conflict being told in first of seven ‘Spotlight on the Troubles: a Secret History’ programmes.

A legacy process should be about why the Troubles should never happen again

Brian Rowan and Deric Henderson speaking about Reporting the Troubles at a Creative Holywood conversation.

On Thursday evening, hours before Lyra McKee was fatally shot in Creggan, Brian Rowan was speaking about Reporting the Troubles in Holywood. Throughout the event, he often pivoted away from pure reminiscence and returned to the subject of legacy, arguing for an inclusive and society-wide process that asked less about what had happened but instead focussed on why it happened and crucially why it should never happen again.

50 years on: Ulster at the Crossroads address

50 years ago tonight, the then Prime Minister, Captain Terence O’Neill took to the airwaves broadcasting an address on BBC Northern Ireland and UTV at 6pm. The address came as the Unionist government began to loose control of the escalating civil rights marches and he faced greater pressure from the British government to pursue reforms. In tandem with this, he faced growing criticism from senior members of his government such as Bill Craig and Brian Faulkner. Why a broadcast? In …

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Hear My Voice – a cinematic companion piece to Colin Davidson’s Silent Testimony

Hear My Voice is a cinematic companion piece to Colin Davidson’s Silent Testimony, a 2015 exhibition of 18 portraits of people who suffered loss during the local conflict, developed in conjunction with the WAVE Trauma Centre. The paintings are back in the Ulster Museum until Sunday 22 April and the exhibition is well worth a visit.

Kingsmills Inquest latest

The Kingsmills inquest has been going on now for a couple of weeks. A new twist has, however, just been announced. Last week we were told that a finger print expert decided spontaneously to look again at a palm print on the get away vehicle and that a match had been found. It has now been claimed (unsurprisingly) that the palm print belongs to a well known republican. Little more surprisingly this republican is one who opposes the current Sinn …

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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 …

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I Just Don’t Get The Troubles

I watched BBC’s Panorama on state collusion in criminality during the troubles in a state of shock. I knew this kind of thing happened, we all did… people killed, people were killed, people enabled killings and people seemed to acknowledge that killing just sort of…happened. I’m 28, I was born in May 1987 four days before the Loughgall Ambush, I was eight months old when the Milltown Cemetary attack took place, I wasn’t yet two years old when Pat Finucane was murdered, a month …

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Enniskillen: Gordon Wilson

Growing up during the 90s the Troubles more something I read about, rather than experienced. I have researched cabinet files, watched documentaries and talked with participants from all sides in the Troubles. But one man whom I never got the opportunity to speak with and who for me stands out as the single greatest hero of the Troubles was Gordon Wilson. Gordon was man whom was subjected to something that no person should ever have to experience was holding his …

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Who won the war? More importantly, who if anyone, is creating the peace?

So, I have to admit, it slipped my mind that the embargo was up already on the preview of Peter Taylor’s elegiac look on the Trouble when he asked the question few have dared to: who won the war? Now it’s everywhere it seems. This is as much an elegy on the part of a veteran journalist, a last look on the appalling vista he brought consistently brought us right throughout the troubles. There’s some interesting effects in playing old …

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Art of the Troubles: Culture and Conflict

Dr Stefanie Lehner (Queen’s University Belfast); Dr Laura McAtackney (University College Dublin); Dr Cillian McGrattan (University of Ulster) The importance of culture in Northern Irish political life was reinforced in the events surrounding Pastor McConnell over the past week. It is clear that within Northern Ireland, the effects of fear, judgment, prejudice, hate and intimidation make themselves felt in various forms throughout society. Cultural difference, then, shapes and informs the contours of political life – it works to valorise certain …

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Gordon Gillespie-Why Sunningdale was never going to work

As it is the 40th anniversary of the UWC Strike we asked Dr.Gordon Gillespie who completed his doctoral research on the strike to write up a piece on why he feels that Sunningdale was always doomed to failure. Forty years ago this month the first attempt to create a cross community executive in Northern Ireland ended in failure. The political strength of loyalist power station workers allied with paramilitary force on the streets and backed by broad unionist support forced …

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