International media cover Playhouse ICAN conference

Posted on: 26th March 2012

NINE TENTHS UNDER- Performing the Peace

Thursday 22 to March 24, 2012


"People could well be killed" journalist Ed Maloney said in a passionate speech about the Boston College controversy at ICAN conference, jointly hosted with Queen's University, over the weekend.

The arts and peace-building conference, which gained international press coverage from the news network CNN, as Maloney discussed Boston College's ‘Belfast Project' oral history interviews.

The Belfast/Boston project caused major political controversy following an extensive legal battle with the US government, as they attempt to force the handover of interview materials with interviewees.

The award-winning journalist was just one of several highly esteemed panelists from around the world participating in the conference, which was held in partnership with Playhouse ICAN and Queen's School of Creative Arts.

The conference, entitled ‘Nine Tenths Under; Performing the Peace', invited creative artists, community activists, academics, students and a range of different communities across Northern Ireland to explore how the arts can cast light on the hidden face of the peace process.

Ed Maloney spoke at a special panel chaired by filmmaker Declan Keeney, including University of Ulster's Cahal McLaughlin of The Prison Memory Archive, filmmaker Alison Millar, and Claire Hackett, from the Healing Through Remembering project and Falls Community Council's oral history archive, Dúchas.

In his speech Maloney said that many involved have been put at risk by Boston College's response to the legal battle.

"People could well be killed. My researcher is at risk and so are the people he interviewed. All are at risk of being treated as informers by their former comrades" Maloney said.

"Some could end up in jail or at least face the possibility of criminal charges. When Boston College undertook this project they gave us and the interviewees a solemn promise that their confidentiality would be protected until death. Now some of them face the possibility of death and the betrayal of their confidentiality. Shame on them."

He said this would not be the only consequence of the legal action.

"This conference has as its inspiration the idea that history is rather like an iceberg, only one-tenth is visible while the vast bulk remains unseen and unheard. So where do we usually get that one-tenth of history from?" he said.

"In the end the most insidious aspect of the HET [Historical Enquiries Team]/PSNI offensive against the Boston College is that it will effectively close down any effort to tell the story of the Troubles from the point of view of the foot soldiers".

"In that sense the HET is staking a claim on behalf of two groups that only they will be permitted to tell the story of the Troubles. One is the State through its security agencies and the other is the leaders who survived the war and now prosper in the peace. More than any other reason that is why their action, and the silence from those who should not be silent about this affair, should be condemned and resisted with all the force we can muster."

Held at The Brian Friel Theatre Belfast from Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 March, the conference screened ‘The Far Side of Revenge', a groundbreaking film documenting producer and director Margo Harkin's engagement with Teya Sepinuck's Theatre of Witness project. The Playhouse Theatre of Witness project puts marginalized people at the core of a type of performance in which they relate their own, often shocking, stories of the Troubles to the public.

Other esteemed contributors to the conference include playwrights Dave Duggan and Owen McCafferty, Jane Taylor of the University of Chicago and University of The Western Cape, and multidisciplinary visual performance artist and puppeteer Aja Marneweck.

The Playhouse brought artists and practitioners from post conflict and conflict societies together, including Aparat Theatre Company, Sarajevo and practitioners from Afghanistan

"The conference ignited conversations around how the Arts can benefit post conflict societies. It was great to see people exchange ideas, talk about new methods applicable to local and international issues" Elaine Forde ICAN co-ordinator said.

ICAN is an innovative project with a programme consisting of international residencies, local projects and conferences. ICAN is a three year project which has been part-financed by the European Union's Regional Development fund through EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation (Peace III) managed through Special EU Programmes Body.

For more information about the ICAN project contact Elaine Forde on (028)71268027, email or visit



Ed Maloney's full speech can be accessed by this link-



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