Belfast Telegraph

Troubles documentary: Harrowing experience, but team wanted to 'put truth' in public domain

Journalists Jennifer O’Leary, Darragh MacIntyre and Mandy McAuley
Journalists Jennifer O’Leary, Darragh MacIntyre and Mandy McAuley
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

The journalist who oversaw the BBC's Spotlight investigative team in the production of their new eight-part series about the Troubles has said they tried to be sensitive to the feelings of people who suffered or lost loved ones.

Chris Thornton also said that while there is a total of eight and a half hours in Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History, there still was not enough time for the documentary makers to include all the issues they wanted to cover.

He said producers had tried to warn people that they might see archive footage of incidents that had involved them or loved ones.

Spotlight editor Jeremy Adams said his team wanted to put the truth about the Troubles and why they ended into the public domain.

But he said the series was not the definitive history of the conflict. BBC NI controller Peter Johnston said the Spotlight team have been working on the series "for many years".

He said the aim had been to chart the events of the past five decades and bring new understanding and insight to the Troubles, using a large amount of archive material that has never been seen before.

Mr Johnston said the project had been "very difficult, given the contested and unknown" so much of the Troubles had been and would be for some time.

Reporter Jennifer O'Leary investigated how the IRA sustained their terrorist campaign and how they acquired their weapons and explosives before switching to their political initiative. She also probed the secret intelligence war that was waged against the Provos.

Reporter Mandy McAuley's two programmes will focus on loyalist terrorists including the UDA, the UVF and Ulster Resistance.

The issue of collusion will also be examined in later episodes.

In one, Geraldine Finucane, whose solicitor husband Pat was murdered by the UDA, says she was never interested in who pulled the trigger. Instead, she was interested in who was pulling the strings.

Mr Johnston also revealed that the BBC had also commissioned other films about the stories of lives lost in the Troubles, based on the book Lost Lives.

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