FR ALEC REID- BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
Wednesday, 29 November 7.30pm in Clonard Church
includes a showing of the documentary 14 DAYS (60 minutes)
Light refreshments in the monastery after. All welcome.
14 Days is an amazing piece of documentary.
When the directors, Dermot Lavery and Jonathan Golden from Doubleband Films, started thinking about remembering the worst 14 days in the Northern Irish Troubles they felt that it was too inflammatory.
In that short time span three unarmed members of the IRA were murdered in Gibraltar as they planned a bombing. That they were shot and not arrested raised tensions in Republican communities.
At their funerals a mad loyalist terrorist Michael Stone started shooting and throwing hand grenades, killing three and injuring sixty mourners.
Then at the funeral of two of those victims two British soldiers got somehow caught up in the huge cortege and were dragged from their car and murdered.
It was a time of bloody carnage and poisonous tension. Both sides could have been enraged at the remembering. In the midst of all this Dermot and Jonathan started to investigate Fr Alec Reid’s story.
They discovered a Catholic priest pastoring his own community in mourning and doing what he could to stop the violence getting worse. Reid tried to save the British soldiers by covering them with his own body from the terrorists seeking vengeance. He was told to leave or he would be shot and then returned to find the soldiers, now dead, attempting the kiss of life. He was photographed kneeling over them with their blood on his face.
That was almost a story... and then... the eureka moment. As Jonathan researched Fr Alec’s story the modest priest suddenly mentioned “the letter”. What letter? Well it seems that Fr Alec was at the second funerals in order to pick up a letter from Gerry Adams to hand to John Hume.
The letter was the terms for negotiations and a way into a peace process. Fr Alec had that letter in his pocket when he gave the British soldiers the last rites. Indeed he explained that he had to change the envelope because there was blood on it.
After that day when most of us would have gone home traumatised Fr Alec Reid drove to Derry with a letter from Sinn Fein to the SDLP that set out the building blocks for what in six years time would yield a cease fire and the peace process we enjoy the fruits of today.
Dermot and Jonathan had their way to tell the story of that dark fortnight. They had the light that was flickering into life at that darkest of times. Fr Alec Reid had redemption in his blood stained hands. It is responsible and prophetic journalism that is so often so sadly lacking.