Belfast Telegraph

A soundtrack to troubled times: Belfast author's book tells how music was key to securing peace

By Adrian Rutherford

They were the stars who provided the soundtrack to a troubled time in Northern Ireland.

Now a new book is set to tell the story of music and conflict over the last 50 years.

Written by Belfast-based music journalist and broadcaster Stuart Bailie, Trouble Songs - Music and Conflict in Northern Ireland features interviews with artists including Bono, Christy Moore, The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, Sinead O'Connor, Terri Hooley and The Miami Showband survivors.

They reflect on the events of the Troubles, and the book will be previewed at the British Council's Peace and Beyond conference at Belfast City Hall on Tuesday.

People from around the world will gather at the conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Stuart said: "I absolutely believe that music made a difference.

"Music has been a persuader, an agitator and a peacemaker in Northern Ireland.

"It changed the direction of my life in 1970s Belfast and I've seen it happen to hundreds of other people.

"There were many factors that led to the Good Friday Agreement but, in my account, music helped to get us over the line."

The book includes a piece from Bono, who writes about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the lyrics of song Sunday Bloody Sunday, the Enniskillen bombing and his work with Christy Moore.

It also features an explanation of how the killing of Thomas 'Kidso' Reilly in 1983 caused Gary Kemp to write Through The Barricades and led to Bananarama's Rough Justice.

Also included are details of a death threat that was sent to The Clash when they planned to play a Londonderry festival in 1979.

Christy Moore also reveals why he sang The Time Has Come at the graveside of Martin McGuinness.

The book contains a behind-the-scenes description of the Yes concert in May 1998, when Bono managed the first public handshake between SDLP leader John Hume and UUP leader David Trimble.

The backstory of the gesture, which has become an iconic image and helped to swing the Good Friday Referendum vote, has been compiled from over a dozen eyewitness interviews.

Trouble Songs - Music and Conflict in Northern Ireland will be published on May 11, priced £14.99

Belfast Telegraph

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