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Project Children: Defusing the Troubles, BBC One Northern Ireland, 8.30pm, Monday 5 December.

Date Posted: December 1, 2016

A new documentary telling the previously untold story of how an NYPD bomb disposal expert played a key role in helping defuse the “Troubles” is to be broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday 5 December at 8.30pm.

The programme titled Project Children: Defusing the Troubles received funding from Northern Ireland Screen and Invest NI as well as Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

In 1975 Denis Mulcahy – an Irish Immigrant – decided he couldn’t stand by whilst Northern Ireland blew up on his nightly news bulletin. Along with his family and neighbours in a small New York state town, he started a scheme that would ultimately see 23,000 children escape the worst of the violence for a summer of peace.

Over a 40 year period Project Children took children from deprived areas of Northern Ireland and placed them with host families in America for six weeks during their summer school break. There, they were given the opportunity to discover that perhaps they had more in common with the ‘enemy’ at home than they thought.

Using archive footage and with contributions from former US President Bill Clinton, this feature-length documentary weaves the personal stories of the children who were given this unique experience with the wider political story of how Washington came to be involved in dealing with the situation in Northern Ireland.

Narrated by Liam Neeson, the documentary also reveals what happened to many of the children involved in Project Children. It hears about those who successfully overcame the difficulties of the Troubles and others who failed to escape the violence.

From the conflict of the early seventies to the signing of an historic agreement in the late nineties, the programme looks at the incredible story of how one man’s visionary approach to reconciliation led to him influencing American politicians and subsequently contributing to peace in Northern Ireland.

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