Dear friends,

The Embassy of Ireland

and the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels

are pleased to invite you to the European premiere of

Tony Connelly: A Hidden History

When: Thursday, 8 June at 18:00

Where: ONIEB, Chaussée d'Etterbeek 180, 1040 Brussels

The event will be followed by a reception.

Please follow this link to register

Produced as part of RTÉ’s “Decade of Centenaries” collection, ‘Tony Connelly: A Hidden History’ tackles the difficult and hugely controversial subject of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British police force in Ireland until its disbandment in 1922.

Intriguingly, this landmark documentary explores its subject in a highly personal manner via Tony Connelly, RTÉ’s trusted and respected Europe Editor, taking a break from his usual role reporting on breaking news of the war in Ukraine or Brexit. Here, he sets out to discover more about his paternal grandfather, Michael Connelly, a constable in the RIC during the War of Independence, who died before Tony was born.
Initially armed with only a few faded photographs and handful of family stories, Tony knows only the bare bones of his grandfather’s life, but he is all-too aware that the RIC and the men who served in it are still regarded with anger and hatred by many in this country. They became seen as spies for the British, siding with the enemy, and the opponents of those who would rid us of an occupying nation. Over 500 RIC men lost their lives in the conflict at the hands of Republican forces, and many feel little sympathy for them, even today.
Piecing together his grandfather’s life from an impressive clutch of records, journals newspaper articles and other historical documents, Tony enlists the help of a host of experts, archivists, historians. The cessation of the War of Independence, disbandment of the RIC, and partition of Ireland would bring yet more astonishing twists and turmoil for Tony to unravel. Left with few options, Michael Connelly took the fateful step of joining the fledgling RUC, crossing the newly established border to forge a new life with his growing family - one fraught with the tensions of making his way as a Catholic policeman from rural Galway in the strongly loyalist heartlands of County Antrim".
Inevitably, this documentary is a highly personal undertaking for Tony, and shows a side of him which viewers will not have seen before. His own family history is the subject, against the backdrop of one of the more difficult chapters in Ireland’s revolutionary history. Fortunately, Tony’s natural curiosity, journalistic rigour and disarming charm allow him to broach this thorny topic.
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