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Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland | Preview (BBC Two)

Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland gives voice to people who lived through The Troubles, sharing intimate stories from all sides of the conflict.



The powerful new five-part documentary series combines personal accounts with archive footage to tell the story of the people and communities who had to live with violence on an everyday basis and are still dealing with its legacies today.



Interviewed at length about their experiences over a number of hours or days, it features contributors whose lives were changed forever by the conflict - from the son whose mother was kidnapped by the IRA, to a man from a loyalist estate whose family’s secret challenged some of his beliefs, and a woman who took a decision to plant firebombs.


Those taking part recall historic events and personal memories. The series runs chronologically from the beginning of The Troubles in the late 1960s to the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement in 1998.




As tensions between Catholic and Protestant communities increase, this episode charts the transition from a time of relative peace in Northern Ireland, to widespread community conflict.



Northern Ireland is governed by a majority Protestant, unionist Government. The civil rights movement gains pace, demanding (amongst other things) equal rights for Catholics. Growing up in poverty, Billy saw few opportunities for young Catholic nationalists like himself and became involved in violent street disorder. He was known as the “best rioter in Derry”.


James, a working-class Protestant teenager, viewed the civil rights marches with suspicion. He thought the protests could lead to a united Ireland and was worried about them on that account. For Ricky and his republican family, old wounds were reopened by the security and government response to the civil rights movement and the Provisional IRA come to the fore.




The British Army was deployed. Tactical mistakes had the effect of adding to the chaos and soldiers like 19-year-old Tom, who had arrived with little understanding of the unfolding conflict, quickly found themselves caught up in violent clashes.


When 13 unarmed Catholics were shot dead by the army in Londonderry, a watching world looked on in shocked disbelief. Known as Bloody Sunday, it was an event with far-reaching political consequences. For Fiona and her family, who lived in the midst of the community devastated by the effects of Bloody Sunday, what happened then set in motion a chain of events that would end in personal tragedy.



All episodes of Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland will be available on BBC iPlayer from Monday 22nd May.

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