7 December 2022 The Irish Film & Television Network
‘Ceasefire’ TX Tonight 9pm on BBC NI
01 Sep 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
Gusty Spence (centre) pictured with loyalist political leaders in 1994
On the 31st August 1994, after 25 years of the Troubles, the Provisional IRA declared its ceasefire. Six weeks later Loyalist paramilitaries did likewise. These weeks marked a definitive transition into a post-conflict society. One in which political dialogue – however strained on occasions – replaced the violence.

On the twentieth anniversary of these historic events, a new documentary from DoubleBand Films for BBC Northern Ireland explores the background to these announcements and how the silencing of the guns was a fraught and fragile process, one that, even in the days, weeks and months that preceded the ceasefires, left many people dead – and relatives to face a lifetime of pain and loss.

The year before the ceasefires, 1993, had seen a sequence of tit-for-tat atrocities sink to a new low. Likewise the first eight months of 1994 had also witnessed a tragic loss of life – with relatives of those who were killed so close to the calling of the ceasefires left with a heightened sense of the pain and futility.

Featuring contributions from leading commentators and intermediaries in the peace process along with relatives of those who lost loved ones in those final months of the Troubles, this documentary explores both the background to these momentous political events and the raw human emotions that demanded an end to the violence.

In addition to victims’ relatives, interviewees in ‘Ceasefire’ include journalists David McKittrick, Eamonn Mallie, Brian Rowan, Fionnuala O’Connor and Susan McKay, and former intermediaries, Rev Chris Hudson, Very Rev Ken Newell, Fr Gerry Reynolds and Lord Robin Eames.

Director Dermot Lavery told IFTN, “‘Ceasefire’ is the story of 1994 - the year that many see as the last year of the worst of the Troubles. It was a year of secret peace talks and savage brinkmanship. And a year in which the lives of relatives who loved and lost were indelibly defined by those last dying days – the days before the ceasefires.

“Our genuine hope for this documentary was to offer, twenty years on, a lesson from history - to acknowledge the great achievement of those peacemakers and politicians from all persuasions who helped make the Republican and Loyalist ceasefires a possibility. We wanted too to reflect on how far we have come since 1994 and whether we as a society truly respect the profound loss to the many thousands of victims’ relatives by moving the peace process forward.”

‘Ceasefire’ is a DoubleBand Films production for BBCNI and was produced and directed by Dermot Lavery (‘Road’) and Jonathan Golden. The documentary is narrated by Conleth Hill and was edited by David Gray. Executive Producer for BBCNI is Deirdre Devlin and Executive Producer for DoubleBand is Michael Hewitt.

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