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25 Pieces: The history and horror on the road to Good Friday 1998 and beyond

Posted On: 10 Mar 2023

North-South Northern Ireland


On Thursday 9 March, in collaboration with the Creative Hollywood Festival, CCBS was delighted to organise an event with award winning journalist Brian Rowan entitled ‘25 pieces: The history and horror on the road to Good Friday 1998 and beyond’.

In conversation with former BBC colleague Mervyn Jess, Brian Rowan took the audience through 25 unique pieces from his archive gathered whilst covering the lead up to and the immediate aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement (1992-2002).

The 25 pieces, which have also been compiled in a short book, include paramilitary ceasefire announcements scribbled on receipts during informal interviews, personal takes of the conflict penned by some of the leading religious and political figures of the time, and documents giving insights into breakthrough moments in the talks process.

In a revealing and often profound discussion, Brian Rowan’s exploration of his archive helped us understand the ongoing journey of the Good Friday Agreement, and the major moments in the transition from conflict to peace.

Speaking at the event, Director of CCBS, Dr Anthony Soares said, “As a stepping stone to a new beginning, the Good Friday Agreement is not a relic of the past. We at the Centre for Cross Border Studies, live it, rely on it, every day. Brian’s 25 pieces are a reminder of what it took to get there, and the possibilities it has opened up for us.”

Of particular value to the evening was the contributions from audience members who were heavily involved in the peace process, including former advisors, politicians, former prisoners and religious moderators.

Attendees also heard from the post-conflict generation, represented by students at Lagan College, Belfast, who explained their hopes for the next 25 years in pre-recorded interviews played during the event.

A core theme of discussion was the presence of real leadership and compromise among the political actors involved in the Agreement and the need for similar leadership now. Acknowledging the loss in recent years of many of the political giants of the peace talks, Brian Rowan spoke of “the memory we’re losing as we wait in the present for the past to be addressed”.

He said, “Good Friday ’98 was a beginning, not an end. It is unfinished work. The next 25 years are arguably more important than the past 25 years.

“Good Friday was a remarkable achievement. But this 25th anniversary cannot just be a celebration of that moment but, more, an opportunity to think forward – to look to the future, not back into the past. In 2048 what might be the 25 pieces on display.”

Brian Rowan’s 25 pieces are collated in the booklet.