Past in the Present

Elle Rowan

Belfast School of Art, Ulster University

I have been photographing brothers and sisters who lost a parent during the decades of conflict in Northern Ireland. Today the peace process here is held up as an international example, but beneath the headlines of peace, the pain of the past is still very much evident. The detail of many killings are forgotten outside close family circles. My photographs are an illustration of how violence committed in the 1970s, 80s and 90s is still real and raw today. I met the families I photographed through the organisations "Relatives for Justice" and the WAVE trauma centre. Those photographed in my project lost fathers and mothers in gun and bomb attacks. When the Northern Ireland conflict is reported internationally it is most often remembered in terms of headline events such as the Enniskillen and Omagh bombings where there were multiple deaths. Many of the people I have photographed have been forgotten in the news coverage that recalls decades of violence. This project is a reminder that the past still exists in the present. For families who had a loved one killed the horrific detail is as clear and as real today as it was twenty, thirty or forty years ago. My work helps to remember the forgotten.

CAPTION: John and Katherine FinucanePat Finucane was a prominent Belfast lawyer who was murdered by loyalists at his home in February 1989 while eating dinner with his wife Geraldine and his three children Michael, John and Katherine. For twenty-five years his family have campaigned for an Independent International inquiry to establish the truth. It is accepted that there was collusion in the killing, the question that is still to be answered is, who wanted Pat Finucane dead?