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Derrygonnelly family's meeting with Peacemaker Mitchell to air on BBC 1

Published: 20 Sep 2012 13:000 comments

A documentary which follows former US Senator George Mitchell on an emotional return to Northern Ireland airs next week.

Senator George Mitchell (right) and his son Andrew (third left) enjoying some Fermanagh hospitality at the Robinson family home. From left, Martin and Mary Robinson with Adrian and Conor Robinson.

Viewers will see Senator Mitchell meet with three families, including the Robinson family from Derrygonnelly, to assess how life has changed for people in the country since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

He is fondly remembered as one of the key architects of the Good Friday Agreement having had a leading role in the difficult negotiations of 1998. It was during these talks that his son Andrew was born back home in New York. His son's birth inspired him to persist with his peace mission as 61 children were born in Northern Ireland on the same day.

Earlier this year he brought 14-year-old Andrew to the county to meet Derrygonnelly boy, Conor Robinson, who was also born on October 16, 1997.

Senator Mitchell, who narrates the documentary spoke to this newspaper at the time of filming, saying taking part in the project was "important and meaningful".

"I began to think about the 61 children the same age as my son. I didn't know any of them, I didn't know their parents, but I was pretty sure their parents had the same aspirations that I had for my son. My wife said to me: 'shouldn't those children have the same chance in life as we want for our son?' She encouraged me to go back, she said: you'll never forgive yourself if you don't. A few days later I came back," he said.

The programme also includes an interview with former US President, Bill Clinton, who recalls the moment when Senator Mitchell discussed leaving his role as Peace Envoy to be with his new born son.

The programme was produced and directed by Michael Fanning for Below The Radar TV. He said: "The result is an intriguing and at times emotional documentary, not about Northern Ireland's troubled past but about Northern Ireland today. How things have or haven't changed since 1998 - told through the prism of family values and family life."

George Mitchell: My Journey's End is on Tuesday, September 25, BBC One NI, at 10.35pm.

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