RTÉ announces special coverage to mark Good Friday Agreement 25th Anniversary
RTÉ will mark the Good Friday Agreement 25th Anniversary with a number of landmark documentaries, special live news and current affairs broadcasts, podcasts, digital and archive content across the coming weeks, exploring its significance and its relevance today.
Coverage on RTÉ will include a two-part major documentary series The Agreement presented by Miriam O’Callaghan, a feature length documentary on the role of Fr Alec Reid, exclusive interviews with Bill and Hilary Clinton on Prime Time, special dedicated programming and broadcasts from Northern Ireland by Morning Ireland, Drivetime, The Week in Politics, Adhmhaidin and An tSeachtain le Máirín Ní Ghadhra; comprehensive news reporting on all platforms, a three-part Your Politics podcast series, engaging arts coverage with poetic features and essays on RTÉ Radio 1 and live television coverage of a national event at the Abbey Theatre, a multidenominational religious service, as well as unique archive and digital content on RTE.ie
The Agreement, a landmark two-part documentary presented by Miriam O’Callaghan, will be broadcast across two consecutive nights on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player, beginning on Monday 3rd April at 9.35pm. Examining the intense negotiations leading to the North’s comprehensive political settlement in April 1998 and the critical referendum campaign in the weeks that followed. Produced for RTÉ by Fine Point Films, in association with Queen’s University Belfast, the series is directed by Trevor Birney and includes interviews with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Senator George Mitchell and other key figures in the negotiations.
The documentary series will take an in-depth look at the historic negotiations which led to the first island-wide referendum in Ireland since 1918, which was supported by an unprecedented 94% of the Irish electorate and over 70% in the North. The programmes put a spotlight on the events that led John Hume and David Trimble to share the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in advocating solutions to end conflict. Even today aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, such as a potential border poll, are under renewed scrutiny by politicians and people alike.
RTÉ One will premiere the feature length documentary, The Secret Peacemaker at 10.30pm on Easter Sunday, the extraordinary true story of Irish priest Fr Alec Reid’s secret mission to help stop the killing in Northern Ireland. The new documentary tells the inspiring story of the agreement’s earliest and unlikeliest of architects, the Tipperary raised Redemptorist priest Fr Alec Reid. In 1988, Father Reid was first seen by the world as he was photographed trying to save the life of a dying British corporal in the horrific aftermath of an IRA funeral. The haunted face of Father Reid as he delivered the Last Rites became symbolic of the thirty-year long conflict. But unknown to most, the photograph also captured a secret peacemaker at work. In Fr Reid’s jacket pocket were the first documents of a fledgling plan that would help end The Troubles.
RTÉ News programmes and journalists will provide comprehensive coverage in English agus as Gaeilge, of the anniversary with wide ranging reports and personal accounts giving insight across the week leading up to Good Friday including political developments and expert analysis from RTÉ News’ Northern Editor Vincent Kearney and Northern Correspondent Conor Macauley, in addition to the current news events each day. news2day, RTÉ’s news programme for children will look to make the events of 25 years ago understandable to viewers of all ages with a special explainer video, as well as reporting on the lives of young people living on both sides of the border today. RTE.ie/news and the RTÉ News App will carry in-depth coverage of the anniversary and how the agreement continues to shape Northern Ireland. Followers of RTÉ News can expect tailored content across social media platforms, including hearing the hopes and reflections of young people who have grown up in an era of peace and safety. Short, shareable explainer videos will break down the complexities of the deal and remind audiences who were the key players who got it across the line.
Prime Time will mark the anniversary focusing on the past, present and future for Northern Ireland, including live studio debate, reports on those affected most by the Troubles and the gains of the intervening years. On Tuesday 4th April the programme will feature exclusive interviews with both former President of the United States Bill Clinton, and former First Lady and later US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
On Thursday April 6th Miriam O’Callaghan will present a special extended Prime Time from Belfast. She reports from both sides of the giant peace walls which separate communities in Belfast, speaking to both Unionists and Nationalists who live under their shadow, to understand why 25 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, there is still little appetite to remove them. Prime Time journalist Louise Byrne meets the first baby born in Northern Ireland after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, as she and her parents reflect on how the deal has impacted their lives. And in North Belfast’s Ardoyne area parents of the children who will write the next chapter of Northern Ireland’s history share their thoughts on the so-called peace dividend. Security Correspondent Barry Cummins reports as victims of the conflict are left in limbo as a result of UK government bill which would end investigations, and on the ongoing trauma that holds back the injured and the bereaved.
The Week in Politics will see many sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland join together in a special programme broadcast live from Queens University Belfast on Sunday 2nd April to mark the anniversary presented by Aine Lawlor.
RTÉ’s popular politics podcast, Your Politics presents a special three-part podcast series to mark the anniversary, giving a behind the scenes view of the talks leading up to the signing, focusing on the women who were crucial to the Good Friday Agreement and looking forward.
Coverage of the Government’s Good Friday Agreement 25th Anniversary cultural event will be live streamed from the Abbey Theatre, on Sunday 2 April at 6pm. The event, featuring spoken word and music performances, will be available to watch on the RTÉ News Channel and worldwide on the RTÉ Player.
RTÉ will broadcast a multi-denominational service on Holy Thursday, marking the 25th anniversary of the agreement, as a diverse group of religious and community leaders, peacemakers, activists, survivors and family members of victims of the Troubles come together. The service will begin available on Thursday 6th April to watch on RTÉ One from 4.40pm and to listen to from 7.00pm on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.
RTÉ Radio 1 will mark the anniversary with a number of special programmes and reports across the schedule. On Friday 31st March, Drivetime will present a special edition of the programme to mark the anniversary, with Sarah McInerney broadcasting from the RTÉ Studios in Dublin and Cormac O’hEadhra co-presenting from the Guildhall in Derry.
On Good Friday, 7th April, Morning Ireland will present a dedicated programme live from Belfast with Rachael English and Áine Lawlor taking a look back at the historic events, along with major interviews and special reports.
Also, on Good Friday at 1.45pm, RTÉ Radio 1 will broadcast Field of Peace, a short poetic radio feature reflecting on the subjects of conflict, resolution and peace. Featuring words and music from acclaimed Irish and international writers and speakers.
Sunday with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1 will feature an interview with David Kerr and Tim Attwood, the two men who organised the famous Concert for Yes where Bono held up the hands of David Trimble and John Hume on stage.
On Sunday nights at 7.00pm, RTÉ Radio 1 features a series of essays called Impermanence, by writers from or living in Northern Ireland and commissioned by the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Capturing the various voices of Northern Ireland on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The writing originates from the public and personal experiences of its contributors. The essays pose and answer questions of a public, official and private nature about what it means to belong and live in a place that for so many years has experienced public scrutiny and comment. Contributors include Jan Carson, Kerri ni Dochartaigh, Neil Hegarty, Carlo Gebler, Susan McKay, Paul McVeigh, Maria McManus, Gail McConnell and Henrietta McKervey.
RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s news and current affairs programmes will be commemorating the signing of the Good Friday Agreement with two live programmes from Belfast over Easter weekend.
On Saturday 8 April at 11.00am, An tSeachtain le Máirín Ní Ghadhra will feature a panel discussion with Póilín Ní Chiaráin, Fergus Ó hÍr, Máirín Hurndall, Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin and Gráinne Ní Ghréacháin about the biggest changes in the north since the Agreement was signed twenty five years ago, and the challenges still to be overcome.
On Monday morning at 8.00am, RnaG will broadcast a special two-hour edition of current affairs show Adhmhaidin from the Raidió Fáilte studios in Belfast. The programme will look back at that critical time in the history of Northern Ireland which finally brought peace to the region. A panel discussion will look at the positive and negative elements of Agreement, as perceived by the two main communities in the north and hear from the younger generation about the type of future they would like to see, and whether or not the Good Friday Agreement can fulfil those expectations.
A curation of all of the above content as well as a selection of authored online articles and unique archive materials giving an insight into events 25 years ago will be made available at rte.ie/goodfriday