In February a group of young people visited Belfast as part of their project to create a documentary about the 1996 IRA Manchester bombing. As well as researching the impact it had on Manchester, the group were keen to discover more about the IRA and the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The documentary, made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be premièred at HOME cinema as well as being distributed to all Manchester secondary schools as an educational resource.

The trip was jam packed with unique opportunities, interviews and experiences, for some members it was even their first time on a plane. The group initially visited Stormont, the Northern Ireland Parliament, where they interviewed Pat Sheehan, a Sinn Fein politician who formerly took part in hunger strikes. The group also spoke to lecturers, ex-IRA and ex-UDA political prisoners and toured Crumlin Road Prison, the Irish Republican History Museum, the Falls Road Murals and the Shankill Road Murals. They also spent time with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum’s ‘United for Change’ group who work to end the historic segregation and move towards a positive future for the area.

As well as gaining footage for the documentary, young people began to gain a better understanding of why there was conflict in Northern Ireland and why Manchester was bombed. The trip made everything very real for the young people and now they hope to do the same for Manchester pupils through the documentary.

Speaking to Shannon, an 18 year old member who has been a key part of the project, she said,

‘It was educational and inspiring to learn about the recent history of our country and Northern Ireland. I didn’t know anything about it before. Learning about it in the places that it happened, from the people who lived it, made it real.’

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