The sound of truth

David Granville reviews Ardoyne: the untold truth, Ardoyne Commemoration Project, Beyond the Pale, £14.99 pbk

THE ARDOYNE is a tight-knit working-class nationalist community in north Belfast, where support for republicanism is both strong and widespread.

Because of this, and its proximity to loyalist strongholds, the area has seen more than its fair share of violence and human misery over the last three-and-a-half decades and, as the events at the adjacent Holy Cross school demonstrate, it is likely to be some time yet before its inhabitants enjoy the full benefits of any peace process.

A total of 99 residents lost their lives as a result of the political conflict between 1969 and 1998. Many of these were killed by the RUC, British soldiers or loyalists. A far smaller number died in the internecine feuds which have periodically engulfed republicanism or were accidentally killed whilst on active service with the IRA. In three cases the identity of those responsible remains unknown.

Based around over 300 interviews of the family, friends and comrades of those killed, Ardoyne: the untold truth is a moving attempt by a community to tell its story of pain and loss its “own words” and “without constraints”.

It is also an attempt to do break through the barrier of official silence which has engulfed those who have died at the hands of the British forces or as a result of collusion between them and loyalist paramilitaries and a counterblast to efforts by anti-agreement unionists to demonise republican communities and impose a hierarchy of victimhood.

By way of contrast all of the victims included here -- whether killed by British security forces or republicans -- are treated equally, irrespective of religion or politics. The only qualification for inclusion is that the victim had, at some time, been an Ardoyne resident.

Accompanied by passages which help place the development of Britain’s counter-insurgency war in Ireland into a broader political and historical context, these moving and frequently painful testimonies are part of a conscious effort to prevent a community’s history, from being “lost, rewritten or misinterpreted” by others.

While Ardoyne: the untold truth may not the kind of book that you pick up and read from cover to cover, it is definitely one that everyone with an interest in bringing about a lasting peace in Ireland should read acquaint themselves with.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2003-03-11 11:09:19.
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