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Peacemaker Fr Alec Reid remembered in new television drama

Fr Alec Reid continues to be an inspirational figure. Picture by Mal McCann.
Fr Alec Reid continues to be an inspirational figure. Picture by Mal McCann. Fr Alec Reid continues to be an inspirational figure. Picture by Mal McCann.

The vision and diplomacy of the late Fr Alec Reid, the Redemptorist priest from Clonard in Belfast, who played an influential role in bringing an end to armed conflict in Northern Ireland, is celebrated in a new feature-length drama-documentary this Easter.

In 1988, after years of studiously avoiding press and public attention, Fr Reid first came to the world’s attention, after he was photographed trying to save the life of a British corporal, beaten and shot in the aftermath of an IRA funeral. The haunted face of Fr Reid, as he administered the Last Rites somehow epitomised the best and worst of the human impact of the Troubles.

Unknown to most, though, that photograph also captured the secret peacemaker at work. In Fr Reid’s jacket pocket that day were the first documents of a fledgling plan to end the conflict.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, on April 10 1998, a landmark drama-documentary will be broadcast on RTÉ One and the RTÉ Player this Easter Sunday.

Based on interviews recorded with Fr Reid before his death, ten years ago, This Secret Peacemaker charts his ambitious and perilous peace mission to stop the killing.

Belfast actor, Marty Rea, will play Fr Alec in dramatic reconstructions of key events.

Contributors to the programme include: former Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries, Jake Mac Siacais and David “Packie” Hamilton; peacemakers, Monica McWilliams, the Rev Harold Good and the Rev Ken Newell; former Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams; former SDLP Deputy Leader, Bríd Rodgers; former UUP leader, Mike Nesbitt; the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Ian Jeffers; and journalists, Tim Pat Coogan, Brendan O’Brien and Mark Devenport.

The Secret Peacemaker will be shown on RTÉ One at 10.30pm on Easter Sunday.