Belfast Telegraph

Scheme records Troubles experiences

A major project recording the experiences of key figures from the Troubles and the peace process has been launched at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The online directory, part of a 1.1 million euro (£700,000) initiative funded by the European Union, will also see pilot schemes in border areas to gather the accounts of people involved in the decades of violence and the continuing search for reconciliation.

First Minister Peter Robinson, who recently spoke of the importance of "story telling" to help cope with the legacy of the Troubles, unveiled the new research with deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Parliament Buildings.

The Lomond online directory has been developed by the Peace Process: Layers Of Meaning project, which is a three-year initiative led by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, in association with Trinity College Dublin and Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Project co-director 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, but added that 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," she said. "Many of these people were once household names who have now long since been forgotten."

The project, funded by the European Union's Peace III Programme, 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. The second part of the 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 organisers said the research team will ensure that all work is conducted in an ethical, legal and technically efficient manner.

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