The editor of a new book detailing the living experiences of people during the Troubles says he often had tears in his eyes while listening to accounts from witnesses.
Eamonn Baker was speaking yesterday at the official launch of ‘To Tell You The Truth’ a challenging and compelling book in which 22 people share their stories from some of Northern Ireland’s darkest days.
Contributions came from Donna Smith, mother of Andy Allen, murdered in Buncrana in 2012, Kevin Skelton who lost his wife Mena in the Omagh bomb, local woman Mary Hamilton who survived the Claudy bomb, Sammy McDevitt whose brother Eamonn was shot in Strabane in 1971 by a British soldier and Donal Dunn whose father was blown up on the Limavady Road when a bomb was planted under his car in 1974. At the time Mr Dunn had been given Cecilia Byrne a driving lesson. Cecilia died as well that day.
Eamonn Baker said it was his hope that the book would promote empathy and understanding.
“I am mindful that there would have been no book without all of the people who sat down with me and shared their stories,” he said. “There were many times when there were tears in my eyes.
“22 people shared their very human story about the impact of the troubles, they all came from a wide range of backgrounds. Most of them have lost loved ones, two have sustained life threatening injuries.
“All have struggled to find light in their darkest of days, in the long years since.
“All of them have taken the time here to share their truth, their reality, their testimony as to what their lives have been like.
“I am deeply grateful to each person who has shared his/her story here, each person who has so generously and courageously opened their door and their hearts.
“Some have managed to find peace, for some the harrowing struggle for truth and justice continues.”
Maureen Hetherington from Towards Understanding and Healing paid tribute to Eamonn Baker’s commitment to the book.
“Eamonn is a cancer survivor,” she said. “Last year while he was gathering stories for the book he was rushed into hospital.
“He returned to work a few weeks later with a determination to finish the book.
“The book has values, courage, honesty and integrity.”
Yesterday the Holywell Trust was packed to capacity for the launch of the book.
So many people turned up that the launch had to spill into a second room where they provided live streaming.
During the event moving extracts were read from the book. Music was provided by Tracey Mc Rory, Roy Arbuckle and Anne Tracey (singing from their recent CD “Songs for the Soul”).
The guest speaker was Independent Complaints Commissioner, Kathryn Stone OBE, previously the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland,