NI Peace Process

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by eodmatt, Mar 18, 2012.

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  1. So last week I was in Derry and went for a walk in the Bogside - and other places. And had a beer in a Republican pub in the centre of Derry.

    I was asked to go to Derry by the Director of the Theatre of Witness Program who interviewed me on film about my time as a squaddy in NI.

    At various times whilst I was there we were joined by convicted murderers from the INLA and the UDA and other factions and I was also given a guided tour of the city walls by Eamon, the chief negotiator (Catholic) of the NI Peace Talks.

    Eamon told me that at one point the peace talks had reached impasse and were broken off and when he reported back to the Catholic communities, he was told by the Catholic community leaders to get his backside back to the negotiating table as the catholic community was sick of war. This extraordinary circumstance was paralleled by the Protestant community leaders and so the peace talks eventually bore fruit. He also told me that as much as Martin McGuinness is vilified for being what he is, nevertheless he was instrumental in making the peace talks a success.

    I originally became involved in all this when I was contacted a couple of years ago by Ulster university who were making a Living History Archive of the troubles, which involves interviewing eye witnesses of events, on film. They flew me to Belfast and then took me to the Maze prison, where I was interviewed on camera at the sites of the great breakout and fire of the night of 6 November 1974. I remember the events of that day very well as I had been the QRF team commander of 50 Fd. Sqn. RE in the Maze on that day.

    When I was in Derry this week I was asked to recall the events that I had previously recounted in the Maze, in the presence of former UDA and INLA members. I recalled that after attending the site of the breakout, which was where Hugh Coney had been shot by a tower sentry we were sent to the hand to hand fighting that was going on at the fires. In the early hours of the morning, I was sent with my section to take up a position between Loyalist and IRA compounds.

    The IRA were all at the other end of their compound raising Cain but as we stood there strung out along the wire in the inevitable drizzle, a bloke came to the wire of the Loyalist compound and addressed me. He offered his Commanders compliments and said that the inmates were willing to put themselves under my command and fight the IRA with us, if we would let them out.

    The former UDA bomb maker present at my interview remembered this offer as it had been reported back to the Loyalist community after the event, along with my response which had been that anyone, from either compound, who tried to leave would be shot.

    The Theatre of Witness Program aims to record and portray the events that happened accurately and honestly so that younger people can be told what happened during those times and also so that people who lived through those times can understand what was going on and why it happened from different perspectives.

    One of the most powerful interviews was given by a still serving RUC policeman who had been sent to pick up body parts after a large explosion. He says that the strangest thing he had to pick up was a pair of buttocks with no body attached.

    The people involved in the Archive and Witness programmes would like to meet with a soldier (male or female), who has recent experience of service in Afghanistan. Persec and Opsec matters will not be touched upon and if an interview is conducted, the interviewee will have full say on what is recorded and what he or she doesn't want to talk about.

    who has recent experience of service in Afghanistan and who would like to participate in the Witness programme, please contact me by PM. I cant guarantee that you will end up being interviewed and, by the way, there is no pay, only expenses.

    • Like Like x 1
  2. Wasn't there a bit of a hooharr over PIRA members giving what they believed to be confidential interviews to a University in the States (Boston?)? It seems those promises of confidentiality meant the square root of FA because those interviews can now be used as evidence in any future trials.

    Just saying.
  3. Sure, but this is living history testimony and is not confidential. You don't have to answer any question that might compromise yourself, opsec, persec, whatever - and what they are after is the individual perceptions of people, what they saw, how they felt from their perspective, so that other people can understand.

    For example the UDA bloke I spoke to said that he was a bomber and he and his mate placed a bomb which went of prematurely and blew his mates arm off. He was peppered with fragmentation and got 17 years jail and said that in many ways he was glad that he was out of circulation as he didn't want to plant bombs any more. In his words, the naive angry, idealistic young man had matured a bit and what he was doing sickened him.

    Both he and the INLA bomb planter (who had also done a long stretch inside) agreed that the oath of allegiance they had taken to their respective organisations was very similar, but was in each case backed up by the threat of death if they transgressed. Which is where they both differed from the British army's oath of allegiance. Both of them wanted to stop what they were doing but their organisations would have topped them if they had.

    Now however they have no qualms about talking to me or of giving their stories. Just having them both in the same room as me in Derry was something I had never thought could happen.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. ehwhat

    ehwhat Old-Salt Book Reviewer

    Good for you for taking part. I was passing through to other concerns and had a chat with the archivist in Belfast early on in the project's inception while sorting posters, broadsides and other ephemera when things had progressed but were still unsettled. I was impressed by the scope and willingness to engage, but thought the likelihood of success to be slight. Fortunately, I kept that thought behind my teeth. I'm very pleased to have been proved wrong.
  5. Marty would have kneecapped and bombed anyone who didn't want peace...
  6. Stonker

    Stonker On ROPs

    . . . until he saw the wind blowin' the other way and didn't want to loose his grip on power.

    As prosperity beckoned in Ulster, those with something to lose became a majority in the Republican population, and some kind of democracy created pressure on the boy.
  7. Is it CAIN at UU running it ?
  8. You probably need to PM me.
  9. It seems those promises of confidentiality meant the square root of FA because those interviews can now be used as evidence in any future trials.
  10. There seems to be an echo.
  11. ANU - Peacebuilding Compared - Peacebuilding

    I was interviewed for a project that sounds similar by the Australian National University.

    Some their stuff on "Peace building" is fairly interesting.

    I would certainly encourage any Aussies on this site to get in touch with them.