Campus: CSU Chico -- July 29, 2005

CSU Chico Students Filming Documentary in Northern Ireland

Fifteen students from California State University, Chico are in Belfast, Ireland, investigating the causes of conflict and prospects for peace. They could not be there at a more propitious time, as today the Irish Republican Army announced that their armed campaign is over, according to BBC News, UK edition online.

The Chico students are interviewing and filming people on the street and principal actors in the conflict between Catholic separatists and Protestant loyalists to Britain. They will produce a film documenting the search for peace in “the troubles,” as some partisans call the conflict. The news of the IRA pursing peace through exclusively peaceful means provides a new chapter to their story.

CSU Chico alumnus Kelly Candaele, who is a prominent journalist, filmmaker, and expert on Northern Ireland, is supervising the documentary; graduate student Cathy Growdon is coordinating the project; and Ron Hirschbein, Department of Philosophy, serves as the third group leader in his capacity as director of the Peace Institute at CSU, Chico, the project sponsor.

The film will be shown in institutions of higher education in California. Prior to leaving the United States, several students interviewed former Senator George Mitchell, the architect of the Good Friday Agreement that substantially reduced the violence in Northern Ireland.

In order to understand the background of the conflict, the students are interviewing loyalists such as Member of Parliament David Ervine, who wish to remain within the United Kingdom, and republican nationalists (also called unionists) such as Gerry Adams, who strive for a united Ireland. Ordinary citizens are also being interviewed in Protestant loyalist and Catholic separatist areas. Student efforts are complemented by a three-week course on Irish culture and politics at Queens University.

During a trip to Dublin, students interviewed former Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, who moved the peacemaking process forward during his tenure in office. In Derry (called Londonderry by unionists) interviews were conducted with Nobel Laureate John Hume (who was awarded both the Martin Luther King and Gandhi peace prizes for his unflagging efforts to reconcile Protestant and Catholic factions).

“We were struck by the warmth and hospitality of these officials, who spent many hours enduring intense questioning and playful conversation with our students and group leaders,” said Hirschbein. “We are particularly pleased that both Reynolds and Hume wish to visit Chico in order to share their experience in peacemaking with the campus and larger community. Reynolds’ campaign slogan still resonates: “Who’s afraid of peace?”

For more information about the Peace Institute, contact the director, Ron Hirschbein, at or go to

Contact: Kathleen McPartland, 530-898-4143

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