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€1.1m project to uncover unheard voices of the Peace Process

The First and deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, launched an extensive directory of interviews relating to the Peace Process at Stormont on Tuesday 14 June.

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Mr Martin McGuinness (deputy First Minister), Professor Seán McConville, Dr Anna Bryson and Mr Peter Robinson (First Minister)
Mr Martin McGuinness (deputy First Minister), Professor Seán McConville, Dr Anna Bryson and Mr Peter Robinson (First Minister)

The LOMOND online directory has been developed by the Peace Process: Layers of Meaning as part of a €1.1m three year initiative led by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, in association with Trinity College Dublin and Dundalk Institute of Technology. The project has been funded by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme.

The project has two main components. The first is the collection of 100 interviews with key figures in peace and reconciliation over the past 40 years and more.

Project Co-Director Dr Anna Bryson said: “We are recording key witnesses to the most traumatic and significant events in Anglo-Irish history. This is urgent and important work because many of these people are old and frail. It would be a major loss to our national heritage if their voices were not to be heard.”

She said that the aim of the project was to capture voices from every strata of society who could speak authentically about the challenges of the past. Interviews will not be confined to the corridors of power.  “We want also to engage with those who were involved in culture, health, education and community relations at various levels.”

“Many of these people were once household names who have now long since been forgotten,” she added.

The LOMOND online directory will complement and supplement this part of the project.  It draws together much of the valuable work that has gone before and is intended as a first port of call for citizens, academics, policy-makers, journalists and anyone with an interest in the conflict and its resolution.

The second part of the Peace Process work is to train and equip local people in border areas to collect their own stories about conflict and peace. Three pilot projects will be set up and the research team will ensure that all work is conducted in an ethical, legal and technically efficient manner.

Dr Bryson added: “Numerous acts of peace have been discreet and obscure and many fears and doubts are unspoken. These important recollections, voices and testimonies will be preserved for future generations.”

She stressed how important it was to carry out this work with a profound sense of responsibility: “The cessation of widespread violence does not mean that a society is at peace,” she said. “Building for tomorrow means acknowledging the very real and deep-seated fears that exist today.”

Dr Bryson added that the project would ultimately create a hugely powerful resource for future generations and that the interviews conducted will include stories of personal discovery and transformation.

“These accounts never fail to move, challenge and inspire,” she said.

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