Northern Ireland news

Patrick Kielty says Brexit fall-out has 're-triggered trauma' of father's murder as Carl Frampton 'has considered leaving north'

On the 100th anniversary of its creation, the programme sees Patrick Kielty explore what the future holds for Northern Ireland. Picture by Seamus McCracken/ BBC

COMEDIAN Patrick Kielty has revealed that the "fall-out from Brexit has re-triggered the trauma" he experienced after his father was murdered by loyalists during the Troubles.

Amid the continuing tensions of the Irish Sea Border and violence that erupted over the summer, Co-Down born Kielty says returning home this year was particularly difficult, making him realise he still does not "have peace of mind".

In a BBC documentary, Kielty also speaks to former world boxing champion Carl Frampton, who reveals he has considered leaving the north "because of Brexit and because of the tension", as well as the fear of potential violence.

On the 100th anniversary of its creation, the programme sees Kielty, from Dundrum, explore what the future holds for Northern Ireland.

He examines why a new trade border in the Irish Sea has led to violent protests, sparking fear among some of a return to conflict, almost 25 years after the end of the Troubles, which claimed thousands of lives, including that of his businessman father Jack by the UFF.

'Patrick Kielty: One Hundred Years of Union' follows the comedian as he focuses on the generation born after the ceasefire, to try to understand what is driving this new wave of unrest, particularly in loyalist communities.

He explores why some feel a united Ireland could now be on the horizon and how the trauma of the past is shaping its future.

His fears about the north are shared by Frampton, who looks back at his own childhood growing up in the loyalist Tigers Bay area of north Belfast and how he "would have got involved in some of the trouble, some of the riots".

"You went down, threw a few stones at the cops, army, the Catholics on the other side as well and vice versa. But when you grow up and you start to think for yourself it kind of changes your whole outlook," he said.

Asked by Kielty if Brexit had "changed things", Frampton said: "It's changed this massively, we are kind of in no man's land here in Northern Ireland, I don't think we are cared about at all by the Tory government in power at the minute.

"I think we are a bit more of a hindrance that anything.

"Boris Johnson made all these promises that haven't materialised.

"I'm very very proud to come from Northern Ireland, but because of Brexit and because of the tension, I've had conversations with my wife about potentially moving, don't know where - the Middle East we were thinking of for a while, even Spain has been a conversation, but just I think there is a potential for real violence here again and I don't want to see it myself and I don't want to bring my kids up around it.

"A lot of them people who were involved in the protests we seen recently are good people as well.. but they are feeling left behind."

Kielty admits that the fact that Frampton "would consider leaving Northern Ireland makes it hit home to me how much Brexit has changed things here and how fragile Northern Ireland is when you scratch the surface".

Visiting Dundrum, Kielty looks back on his father's killing by the UVF in 1988 and admits "since I've been back I have realised that fall-out from Brexit has re-triggered the trauma I first felt after my Dad died".

He discusses that struggle when he meets Bronagh McConville, whose grandmother Jean McConville was abducted, killed and secretly buried by the IRA.

Despite being born after the Troubles, Ms McConville says she has been left traumatised by the conflict with Kielty revealing the recent violence had provoked old memories.

"I don't deal it with as well as I thought I did and I think with some of the stuff that has happened here recently it shows you that you don't need much of a trigger here," he said.

He added: "I'm beginning to realise that there are far more of us carrying the pain and damage of the past than I thought and I think that residual trauma is being triggered by current events and the fact that we could be soon reaching a crossroads."

Kielty tours Sandy Row and parts of east Belfast, meeting former loyalist paramilitary commander Jackie McDonald and Joel Keys, who has emerged as a voice for young loyalists.

He helps Keys build a bonfire and watches it being lit on the Eleventh Night.

"This is the first bonfire I have been at in my life, I would like more people from a Catholic/nationalist background to actually come and see a bonfire because for me the mystery goes," said Kielty.

Reflecting on his return home, Kielty said "coming back home this time has been harder than I thought, I've realised that while both sides have made peace, so many people including myself still don't have peace of mind".

"But for me, how we continue to heal ourselves and how we look out for each other, no what what side you are on or where the border is drawn matters most."

Patrick Kielty: One Hundred Years of Union is on BBC One tonight at 9pm.

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