Unheard Voices

Unheard Voices

Six powerful short stories of those who have lost someone or who have been injured permanently as a result of the Northern Ireland Conflict

These films present poignant reflections on a range of experiences, as survivors and relatives engage with the themes of loss, recovery, justice and remembering.

As the film addresses issues that victims and survivors struggle with on a daily basis, the participants’ responses suggest that the recording methodologies adopted in the creation of Unheard Voices were constructive and therapeutic.

The consultation process, which continued right up to exhibition, provided some control and reassurance to those who placed themselves in the vulnerable position of being in front of the camera and microphone, telling their painful stories to an unknown public. Meeting with each participant before recording also allowed them to be heard and validated. We gained insight and understanding into the issues that each one of them faced and we developed respect and empathy for each individual person.

The six chosen participants represented a range of experiences and geographical areas in contributing to the making of this film. 

  • Lorna McGarry lost her husband, Spence (46), a serving RUC detective, when he was killed by an IRA bomb planted under his car on April 6th 1991.  He had been visiting his mother who lived in Ballycastle, County Antrim.
  • Paul McKenna's sister, Sharon (27), was shot by the UVF while she was visiting an elderly neighbour in the Skegoniel area of north Belfast on January 17th 1993. It later transpired that Sharon’s murder was being investigated by the Historical Inquiries Team for possible collusion between the RUC Special Branch and the UVF.  
  • Jimmy Irons’s brother, Bobby (63), was killed by an IRA roadside bomb that was detonated when his work van was driving past Teebane crossroads in County Tyrone on January 17th 1992.  Seven other men were also killed and others injured in this incident. 
  • Marie Moore’s son, Gary (30), from Dungiven, County Derry, was shot whilst working on a housing site in north Belfast on December 6th 2000. No organisation claimed responsibility, although it is assumed that he was shot by the UDA.  
  • Sandra Riddell's brother, Johnny Proctor (25), a serving RUC Officer, was shot by the IRA whilst getting into his car at Magherafelt hospital on 14th September 1981. Johnny had been visiting his wife who had recently given birth to their son.  
  • Mark Kelly was injured in a no warning UVF bomb at the Glen Inn, Glengormley, on August 28th 1976.  Mark lost both his legs in the explosion.  He was 18 years old.

The film has been systematically screened across many council areas within Northern Ireland.  The first public screening was in Flowerfield, Portstewart followed with other screenings in Lisburn Civic Centre, Ballymena IMC Cinema, Newtownabbey Borough Council, Derry City Council and Belfast City Council. 

All of these events were concluded with a panel discussion which produced constructive discussion around forgiveness, reconciliation and on the role of story-telling, with participants from the floor sharing their own stories and enquiring about the exhibition possibilities of the material, including broadcasting for future archiving. It has also been screened at the Hallwells Contemporary Arts Centre, Buffalo, and at St Bonaventure University, NY (2012)

It is the hope of all the participants and organisations who produced this film that these stories will play some part in helping to heal the trauma of our contested past and perhaps contribute to a more peaceful future for Northern Ireland.