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Monday, November 2, 1998 Published at 15:56 GMT


Irish stars back bridge of hope

Liam Neeson records Sean McLaughlin's poem for the album

Some of Ireland's top musicians, from U2 to The Corrs, are backing a peace album which will raise money for the victims of the Omagh bombing.

Van Morrison, Boyzone, Ash, The Divine Comedy and Paul Brady are also supporting Across The Bridge Of Hope, which takes its title from a peace poem written by 12-year-old Sean McLaughlin, who was killed in the explosion on 15 August.

Actor Liam Neeson has recorded Sean's words for the album, with part of a poem by Seamus Heaney.

Belfast-based record company boss Ross Graham, who put the album together with Derry-based colleague Tim Hegarty, said the album would be a "much-needed" fund-raising opportunity.

'Collective statement of sympathy'

[ image: Van Morrison: Backing the peace album]
Van Morrison: Backing the peace album
"It's a collective statement of sympathy for all those who have suffered as a result of the long history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland," he said.

"All of the artists have been great and came back to us quickly to see what they could do.

"Some of the songs have been chosen because they were written over the years in response to the Troubles.

"Others are there because they are by such major artists and they just seemed right."

Among the tracks is Sinead O'Connor's version of Abba's 1979 hit Chiquitita, which has lyrics about hope in times of war.

"It is about a parent's comfort to a child and it is quite optimistic. I suggested recording the song to Sinead having seen her perform it on television," said Mr Graham.

Neeson reading poem

[ image: 29 died and hundreds were injured in the Omagh bombing]
29 died and hundreds were injured in the Omagh bombing
Liam Neeson and his wife Natasha Richardson have already donated a £50,000 libel settlement to the Omagh Fund.

Donegal youngster Sean McLaughlin presented his poem to Irish president Mary McAleese, and she stuck it on her wall.

But weeks later he was one of the 29 people killed in the bombing, when he was one of the Irish and Spanish children passing through Omagh when the Real IRA bomb exploded.

His devastated parents released a picture of Sean in his coffin to shame those standing in the way of the peace process. He wrote:

Orange and green it doesn't matter

United now don't shatter our dream

Scatter the seeds of peace over our land

So we can travel hand in hand across the bridge of hope.

The album will be released on November 30.

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