‘We had a private premiere last September for the families of those killed by the Glenanne Gang. I don’t think any screening will ever surpass the emotion we all felt that night’

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Unquiet Graves, a new documentary about the loyalist Glenanne Gang – thought to have been responsible for more than 120 killings in an area of Mid Ulster once dubbed ‘the murder triangle’ – recently premiered in Belfast. VIEW editor Brian Pelan talks to the writer and director Sean Murray

I met Sean Murray at a hotel in Belfast. He was engaged in a seemingly endless round of media interviews about his new documentary Unquiet Graves which offers an unflinching look at a loyalist
death squad and state collusion. It pulls no punches.

Amidst the background chatter of a busy reception area, I asked Sean where did his film fit into the area of victims, survivors and legacy?

“The film offers an important voice for victims, particularly when we look at how the criminal justice system has failed so many victims.

Director Sean Murray

“We had a private premiere last September for the families of those killed by the Glenanne Gang. I don’t think any screening will ever surpass the emotion we all felt that night. There were around 350 people present. Margaret Campbell’s story in the documentary particularly affected me. Because it wasn’t just about the murder of her husband, it was also about the way she was brought by the police to an identity parade and how she was treated. It shocked me.

“The film looks at over 120 killings of civilians but it couldn’t be in an chronological order in the way that journalist Anne Cadwallader done in her book ‘Lethal Allies’. Being a story-teller and writing a narrative is very different.

“The first thing I said to the families was that I can’t have everyone’s stories in the film. Overall they understood that this was my creative decision. I think and I hope that the families were OK with my decision. The purpose of this documentary was to focus on the victims and not the perpetrators.

I asked Sean did he think his film would add weight to the campaign for those in the security forces who colluded with the killers to face justice?

“I think it will,” replied Sean. “This is one of the reasons why I set out to make the documentary. It’s about pressurising the British government.

Would an apology by the Government represent justice?

“That’s a very tough and complicated question,” said Sean. “It’s not about what I think. It’s about what the families think. Some families would like to see people in court, whilst other families would be satisfied with an apology. That question can’t be answered by me.

Sean finished off our interview by talking about the high personal cost to him in making the film. “It took a lot longer to make than originally thought because of financial constraints. But I’m delighted with what we have achieved at the end. I hope it will help the families of those murdered by the Glenanne Gang.”

• To view an online version of our latest edition of VIEW which looks at Victims, Survivors and Legacy issues, go to https://issuu.com/brianpelanone/docs/view_issue_51

• To download a version of our latest edition of VIEW which looks at Victims, Survivors and Legacy issues, go to https://cl.ly/592c8b542ae8

• Sign up at http://viewdigital.org/sign-get-view/ to receive future issues of VIEW magazine and details about upcoming digital training courses.

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