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As Northern Ireland leaves behind a period of bitter violence, part of the continuing peace process focuses on how best to come to terms with the suffering of the past. David Park illustrates how one solution might take shape by inventing a fictional truth commission, modeled on South Africa's TRC. Revolving around the lives of four men who are uncomfortably bound together in this communal search for healing, The Truth Commissioner chronicles the Commission's first hearing, that of Connor Walshe, a fifteen-year-old Irish Catholic boy who disappeared and whose fate has remained a mystery. Three men are called to testify: Francis Gilroy, a newly appointed government minister and former IRA leader; retired policeman James Fenton, who recruited Connor as an informer; and Danny, né Michael Madden, then an eighteen-year old IRA volunteer, who had fled to America, only to be called back to Belfast to testify fifteen years later.
Henry Stanfield, of Irish Catholic and English Protestant parentage, presides over the hearing. Selected for his neutrality, Stanfield is forced into the historic web of lies, and the truth, which is shaped by the four men's different pasts, remains as elusive as ever. An important novel from post-Troubles Northern Ireland, The Truth Commissioner is as gripping as it is insightful and powerfully reveals a shared humanity that transcends the bitter divisions of history.
- Bloomsbury Publishing, December 2008
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