BBC Radio 4 Documentary: The Ceasefire Generation

September 2012

I wrote and presented ‘The Ceasefire Generation’ a documentary about eighteen year-olds in Northern Ireland, born after the 1994 ceasefire, broadcast on Radio 4, September 2012.

Producer Owen McFadden said: 

August 2012 marked the eighteenth anniversary of the IRA ceasefire and the beginning of a process which has culminated in a devolved government at Stormont and an era of relative peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland. 
For many school leavers today, Northern Ireland is a place of opportunity, in which they're happy to settle. Many know little of the story for which their homeland is infamous around the world.

Professor of Psychology at Manchester University, Geoffrey Beattie, knows this territory. He grew up in Ligoniel in North Belfast, an area known as the 'murder triangle' where nearly 20% of all the murders in the Troubles took place. Academic excellence enabled him to escape the fate of many of his classmates. 'When I left Ligoniel for university,' he recalls, 'I had the strange experience of reading about my friends on the front pages of newspapers. A number had been murdered, some had become notorious killers, many just got by.'

For those of Beattie's generation, the 'Troubles' were seemingly never ending. Tribal beliefs, handed down from family to family, were unchanging and unchangeable. Violence only served to deepen divisions, not dent them. But then, in the summer of 1994, something remarkable happened. The IRA announced "a complete cessation of military operations."

In this programme Beattie returns home to engage with eighteen year olds from across Northern Ireland to discover what they feel about their country's past and future. Is there any sign that age-old beliefs might finally be changing or is the 'Good Friday Generation' doomed to carry the baggage of the past?

It is available  to listen again on iPlayer:

Find out more about my work on Northern Ireland