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MLA says Lost Lives book should be made available in schools

Andrew Muir

A book which documents the lives of all those killed during the Troubles should be made available to schools across Northern Ireland, it has been suggested.

Comprising 1,600 pages, Lost Lives chronicles more than 3,700 deaths spanning the Troubles.

A film inspired by the project and with the same name was screened by BBC NI last month.

Liam Neeson, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Bronagh Gallagher, James Nesbitt, Adrian Dunbar, Ciaran Hinds and Bronagh Waugh are among the local acting stars who lent their voices to the project.

The book, which has now been out of print for over a decade, has been described as the greatest single piece of scholarship ever conducted in Northern Ireland.

Alliance MLA Andrew Muir questioned Education Minister Peter Weir about the possibility of increasing the availability of Lost Lives in local schools.

Mr Muir believes the book is an important resource documenting the story associated with all who died during the Troubles.

He said: "I was privileged to view the film at QFT in October last year and left emotional but satisfied it was due to be broadcast by the BBC.

"It's vital viewing for as many people as possible to ensure stories are heard and violence, loss, suffering and hurt endured during the Troubles are not repeated.

"Subsequent to airing a few weeks ago it was good to see the positive response but disappointing that obtaining a copy of the book is now extremely difficult with Lost Lives out of print and retailing for over £200.

"Violence ends lives, divides and destroys. Availability of Lost Lives can play an important role in raising awareness of why violence should be avoided and conflict endured in Northern Ireland never ever occurs again."

In response to Mr Muir's request, Mr Weir said: "The curriculum gives teachers and schools the flexibility to deliver tailored lessons to meet the needs of the pupils in the classroom.

"It is a matter for individual schools, using their delegated budget, to choose the resources, materials and textbooks they use to support their teaching."

He added: "It is also up to schools to determine their provision within school libraries, including the availability of the Lost Lives book to pupils."

One of the book's authors said he believed there was no prospect of it being rolled out to schools.

David McKittrick compiled Lost Lives with Chris Thornton, Brian Feeney, David McVea and the late Seamus Kelters.

After Mr Kelters' death in 2017, Mr McKittrick said the group lost heart when it came to updating the book.

He said: "A formidable list of obstacles forced us to the conclusion that we should wind up Lost Lives, but the loss of our publisher and the death of our friend and co-author Seamus Kelters, who was at the heart of the project, made it absolutely inevitable."

Belfast Telegraph