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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK


UK: Northern Ireland

Turning the pages on lost lives

David McKittrick: "We shed tears while writing it"

A moving account of more than 3,600 deaths related to 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland has been published.

Journalists David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Chris Thornton and Brian Feeney took a painstaking eight years to compile the mammoth Lost Lives, which is almost a million words long.


[ image: Omagh atrocity: Among many remembered in book]
Omagh atrocity: Among many remembered in book
One of the authors, BBC journalist Seamus Kelters, told BBC News Online: "It had its origins eight years ago when we decided that people killed in these troubles should not be forgotten."

It is a book which the authors hope will bring home the human cost of the troubles.

Another of the authors, David McKittrick, the London Independent's Ireland correspondent said: "We shed tears while researching and writing it."

"Many of the stories contained within its covers will surely melt the hardest of hearts and bring home the human cost of the troubles.

"We also hope that anyone tempted to think of resorting to violence will find in these pages more than 3,600 reasons for thinking again."

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To the authors' knowledge, it is the first complete chronicle to try to describe the circumstances leading to every death in a conflict, with cross-references to all connected victims.

The book, published on Friday, includes loyalist and republican murders in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Europe.

There are the major atrocities which have become by-words for tragedy, Omagh, Shankill, Enniskillen, Greysteel, La Mon.

Particularly poignant are the stories of the "disappeared", murdered by the IRA more than 20 years ago. Only some of the bodies have been recovered recently.

There are also the stories of the hunger strikers, and several hundred people who lost their lives at the hands of the security forces, often in contentious circumstances.

The families of the 14 victims of Bloody Sunday, shot dead by paratroopers in Londonderry in January 1972, currently await the start of a fresh judicial inquiry 27 years later.


[ image: Lost lives: Telling the stories of more than 3,600 deaths]
Lost lives: Telling the stories of more than 3,600 deaths
But Mr McKittrick stressed that major incidents with high death tolls in no way overshadowed the many tragic stories, often untold until now, and the anguish suffered by individuals and their loved ones.

They included RUC Constable Jim Seymour, shot in the head in 1973 who lay unable to move for 22 years, visited by his wife every day until he died aged 55 in 1995.

Mr McKittrick explained the work was made all the more difficult by the fact that there were often extremely scant records of many of the deaths, especially in the early years of the troubles.

Almost 70 publishers turned down the project as commercially unviable.

The authors received initial funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Ireland Fund and have now got a publishing deal from Edinburgh firm, Mainstream.

Mr McKittrick said: "We very much hope the troubles are now ending, that this volume will stand as a monument to the sheer waste and horror of war, and that there will be no more lost lives."

Lost Lives: The stories of the men, women and children who died in the Troubles, is published by Mainstream, Edinburgh, price 25.



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