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Reporting the Troubles: Journalists Tell Their Stories of the Northern Ireland Conflict, Deric Henderson, Ivan Little (eds.)

Fabrice Mourlon
p. 159-161
Référence(s) :

Reporting the Troubles: Journalists Tell Their Stories of the Northern Ireland Conflict, Deric Henderson, Ivan Little (eds.), Newtownards, Blackstaff Press, 2018, 238 p.

Texte intégral

1Reporting the Troubles is the latest addition to a number of collections of testimonial narratives, both a genre and a practice that developed in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 in Northern Ireland. These publications participate in the drawn-out process of dealing with the past in which acknowledging and remembering the human cost of a protracted conflict is central as well as the search for “truth and justice” in so-called cold cases.

2The practice of gathering people’s personal experience of the conflict started in the late 1990s with the aim of drawing lessons from the past by exposing the suffering and loss endured by the population, but also documenting events in the tradition of history from below. Considered as oral history by some or therapeutic accounts by others, these testimonies originally focused on victims and survivors or everyday people and later acknowledged members of institutions such as the police or the British Army in an attempt to include all parties of the conflict in the remembering process and give them equal space to tell their stories. Inclusivity being seen as paramount in a divided society where the definition of victimhood is contested.

3This volume follows the path of these books and compiles seventy narratives by journalists who covered the conflict from 1968 to the early 2000s. They were asked to write about defining moments that marked their career and personal experience. The objectives of the project are clearly stated by Senator George J. Mitchell in his foreword and by local journalists Deric Henderson and Ivan Little in the introduction to the book: tribute should be paid to the journalists who have worked in harrowing conditions to report on the violence, despite intimidations from paramilitary organisations and government pressure; their recollection of events should be deeply personal with a focus on their emotions so as to leave an strong impression on the reader; finally the volume is meant to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Troubles. However, the on-going negotiations about how the United Kingdom will leave the European Union have heightened tensions about the constitutional future of Northern Ireland and marred the prospect of restoring the local government and institutions. This volatile situation makes the publication of Reporting the Troubles all the more necessary as it attempts to thwart the possible return to violence. Indeed the book covers the major events of the conflict and insists on its impact on the population.

4The focus on emotions and traumatic events however can be overwhelming for the reader especially as the texts themselves are very short, and leave an impression of incremented pain. The vicarious trauma felt by the journalist is passed on to the reader. One may wonder whether emotions alone can have a transformative effect on the reader. Other narratives tell the story of meetings and relationships between the journalists and prominent political figures such as Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, Margaret Thatcher, or John Hume. This adds a more political dimension to the collection of texts. However the contents of those testimonies do not provide more information than other research has already produced.

5This book remains an invaluable and timely contribution to initiatives that have pushed for the creation of mechanisms and space to deal with the past in Northern Ireland, when the latest consultation on the issue was not able to build a consensus on the form it should take, and when the population, especially the young generation born after the conflict, will need to make sense of its troubled past.

6This compilation of testimonies by journalists can be considered as a memorial in itself and will be added to the archives of other testimonies that have been gathered over the last twenty years to be studied by future historians.

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Référence papier

Fabrice Mourlon, « Reporting the Troubles: Journalists Tell Their Stories of the Northern Ireland Conflict, Deric Henderson, Ivan Little (eds.) »Études irlandaises, 44-2 | 2019, 159-161.

Référence électronique

Fabrice Mourlon, « Reporting the Troubles: Journalists Tell Their Stories of the Northern Ireland Conflict, Deric Henderson, Ivan Little (eds.) »Études irlandaises [En ligne], 44-2 | 2019, mis en ligne le 06 mai 2020, consulté le 27 septembre 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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