Based on true events.
Northern Ireland 1974. The"SS" Royal Ulster Constabulary releases details of unidentified BODY PARTS they have held secretly for years. ORLA KINNON, a young reporter on her first real assignment bravely seeks the truth behind the torture and death of a mutilated body found in a remote bog.
EXT. REMOTE PEAT BOG NORTHERN IRELAND DUSK 1964
We are flying (DRONE) at a low level over a seemingly endless area of bogland with the closing in of day emphasizing it's dark, primodial nature.
ORLA's PLAINT; THIN REEDY TRADITIONAL TUNE. MAYBE UILLEANN PIPES
The tack sharp sound is only of wind, the slight rustling of trees.. but there is another, repetitive sound overlaid that is quite unfamiliar and strange.. we fly on and we see an area of tidy, well cut bog and a tiny figure at work in it. We DRONE in to see the figure. It is CILLIAN BOYLE. an old farmer, with a wheel barrow, and a dog sitting patiently beside him.
EXT BOG NORTHERN IRELAND DUSK 1964 LOC 1
The unfamiliar sound we have heard throughout is of his peat spade (special) cutting the peat into turves which he then puts on his wheelbarrow. He pauses for a moment, leans on the spade, straightens up, and arches his old aching back for a moment He glances at the wheelbarrow which is about half full, reaches into his pocket, pulls out a battered "OLD HOLBORN" tin and expertly rolls a cig. Pops it in his mouth and lights it with a match, takes a couple of puffs, and with the sad ciggie hanging on his lips, digs again into the peat
a chance to dwell visually on the grime engrained hands and face of this old farm worker.
We see him cut a piece with the blade slicing smoothly, then on the next cut the blade seems to jam up against something. CIALLIN BOYLE (the cutter) wiggles the blade to clear the clogging peat a little to reveal what seems to be a human head in and advanced state of decay but.. he jiggles the spade to get round and under it. Manages to balance it on the metal and pull it out as if to have a look.
We move round so that we are looking at the back of it balanced on the shovel as he lifts it up. It IS a head. We see the back of the head, with a mass of grey hair matted with the bog stuff..we lose focus on the hair to BOYLE's face directly behind it, and the camera moves in closer and closer on his weathered face. Still puffing on his fag. with face full frame still squinting at the head, as if he should have his glasses on, but squints until an expression of involuntary astonishment, of shock, ideally the pupils dilate for a moment. The eyes fill with tears..
We lift away to reveal Ciallin with the head still on the shovel..as we pull back we see the head fall from he shovel to the ground, and we see Ciallin slump to sit on the uncut peat bank. Almost foetal, a terrible image of hatred and despair. the distressed figure becomes small again in the frame and finally we fly on over the bogland into the gathering dark.
EXT. 1974 METHODIST CHURCH WITH BULBED SIGN,"ALL WELCOME" AM
It is pouring with rain, overcast and dark. We are outside a Methodist chapel, with the congregation pouring out. Shining out is a clearly new sign which says ALL are welcome..The ALL is picked out in light bulbs, like a fun fair. The Reverend is outside chatting to her people, after a service of dedication, a poster proclaims it. Brollies a plenty. She is standing by it and the people are looking at it with various reactions... as they pass and say good bye. A young woman is chatting to various people as they leave the church. She has a notebook in hand and our camera moves through the Irish faces in the rain, catching odd remarks among the hubbub..
…oo Oi don’t know.. ...cheers the place up a bit… ..has her own ideas this one.. ..no good will come of it… ... shes trying to do something...
The REVEREND SHARON CONNOR chats to people as they leave. She is approached by the young woman with the note book, who catches her eye. She is ORLA KINNON, our reporter from the local paper. 26. attractive, businesslike. A mild NI accent.
Reverend, I wonder if I could have a word or two with ye?
..of course dear, can you give me a minute…
ORLA nods and steps to one side as the Reverend sees the last of the parishoners off... ORLA has her notebook out..
She turns to Orla ,welcoming.
REVEREND SHARON CONNOR
Yes my dear what can I do for you..
the interview continues under the umbrella, the lights kicking out in the background.
I'm Orla Kennon, from the Omagh Times, and they sent me up to cover the dedication of your new sign, which has raised a few eyebrows.
ORLA KENNON (cont'd)
Oh, the press. That’s good…
So let me get it right. Reverend Sharon Connor. and how long have you been the minister here?
5 years here, and before that in Belfast...
looks appraisingly at blinking sign
... do you like it ORLA??
they both look round at the new sign outside the chapel.. With the words ALL are welcome picked out in bulbs Really kicks out in the drab soaking light.
.. well I do, it is very... (searches for words) cheering.. But what do your people say.. do they like it?? That’s the question..
..well to be honest, quite a lot of them seem to think it's like pinning a bullseye on the church for target practice.. I think they're taking bets on it..
... but ALL is ALL, and the way things are going, we just have to do what we can..
we have to try to reach out across
ORLA KINNON (cont'd)
this situation that’s just getting out of control
ORLA is writing away in her notebook.
so Reverend, is this your own idea or is it a Methodist decision?
..call me Sharon please..well its something we do discuss in general terms. What we Methodists try is to find some common ground which seems to be slipping from under out feet right now... as you know our youth clubs, schools and so on welcome people of all religions... but this idea I must say was my own.. sure enough it is a wee thing...but who knows..
we are all Christs children.. So ALL are welcome.. seemed quite good..
so.. your idea…tell me, how do the folks round here feel about you,, you have Catholic Nationalists on one side and Protestant Loyalist on the other, literally on the other side of the street?
REV SHARON CONNOR
I think they respect us for what we are trying to do.. but what they think of each other is a very different matter..
.. Tell me Orla, which side of the street are you on? If you are..
..funny enough my parents are both
REV SHARON CONNOR (cont'd)
Methodists in Belfast.
I was over in London there to do my degree. and I came back for the job,
I did politics at the LSE
whats that saying, may you live in interesting times? Here you are back home, in a warzone.. lets hope you don’t become a war correspondent.
Its an important time for sure.. That’s why I wanted to be here…
REVEREND SHARON CONNOR
Well be sure to keep in touch, lets see how it goes with my sign.
thanks so much Sharon, may I do a shot with it?
REVEREND SHARON CONNOR
ORLA opens her own umbrella and takes her photo from under it.
She gives SHARON her card
this is so interesting.. If anything developes you will let me know?
you mean if its blown up?
(A WRY LAUGH)
..yes, don’t worry, I will..
Interior of ARMAGH TIMES, a local newspaper office. Fairly subdued. Each desk is taken with someone at work. at the top is a glass walled office and we can glimpse the editor LIAM O'NEILL in his chair poring over various pages of an issue he is working on. We roam round the office and we see Orla focussed on her work bashing away determindedly with an ancient typewriter. We see next to her the senior reporter. He is RAY HUME,30s agreeable able, bit tweedy, glasses. He is going through a report very intently. We see they are reports with the heading, RUC and see under that a subheading: FORENSICS LIST BY YEAR. With sub heading below. we continue to browse round the office and come to rest on a middle aged lady on the phone. In her hand she holds an envelope, and a SMALL AD FORM. She reads and talks.
SMALL AD BOOKER
.. Yes Mrs Rankin I have it here.. No, it's sure to be in Thursday's don’t worry, but..
I want to be quite sure that its St Thomas Church at 3 not St Thomas Hall... for some reason they are quite a way apart.. and we had a problem with this before.
she goes on chatting and as she does over her shoulder we see RAY and ORLA working.
Suddenly RAY bolts upright in his chair, excited by something he has read. He gets up and hurries across to the glassed office.. knocks on the open door and is waved in.The Editor LIAM O'NEILL (70+ Sam Neil?) is at his desk, looking through proofs.
INT 1974 EDITORS OFFICE WITHIN NEWS OFFICE AM
..Mr O'Neill, there's something here.. O'NEILL looks up at RAY with interest ...to do with these disclosures..
.one of these bodies the've been keeping turns out to come from Belcoo.. Your patch I think..
.. It’s a 'body parts", that's all they say they’ve been holding onto for 9 years.. no idea who it is…
(thinks for a moment) ...hmm 1966.. Now that IS interesting... Lets have a look...
Staffer takes notes over to O'Neill's desk. They confer. O'Neill is thoughtful, finally looks up at RAY
Ray would you ask Orla to join us?
RAY leaves and returns a few momentS late with ORLA KINNON
Hows the piece ORLA? How did you get on with the fairground minister?
It was quite interesting.. If we hadn't had two murders yesterday it would have been quite funny.. as it is, seems very brave to me.. Some people did not like it at all..got some good quotes though... nearly done..
pros and cons? good, bring it in as soon as your ready.. Sit down, and you Ray.
They form a group round his desk
Ray, can you fill her in on the background to all this??
ORLA looks up. ORLA KINNON is a young trainee reporter into her third month on the paper Irish, quite lovely, very bright, (Hannah John-Kamen?) ambitious but not irritatingly so, and thoughtful, with an inquisitive nature combined with imagination. Her particular quality is to go into a "two pipe" state when she is puzzled, by being stonewalled. Misdirected or evaded she becomes thoughtful, and invariably comes back with a device, question, that usually gets her the info she is looking for. It is this quality, combined with memory and thoroughness that we come to value in her path to what may or may not be the truth.
(polite and interested) ..Mr O'Neill..
Well Orla, for years now the RUC, Bless'm, have been storing bodies and bits of bodies from murders,
bombs, you name it.. people they
RAY HUME (cont'd)
cannot identify but hope that in the fullness of time might be..and help close some cases.. OK?
ORLA listens intently and knods.
RAY HUME (cont'd)
up to now they have kept quiet about it, who and what they have and so on, but now they have released a list of what they have, and where it came from and so on..
Orla nods as she listens. She is a trainee so she might not know this
.. Ok, now have a look at this.
passes the notes to her, she reads closely..looks up …what do you think?.. look at the one I've high lighted..
Orla studies the list thoughtfully
What do you think?
..well first thing comes to me is why did they keep the the parts? and what parts exactly...is that usual..?
…Exactly Orla, what parts and why..? and why this one that's marked?
The trouble is they have no way of identifying a person with no fingers or maybe teeth, or special I.D. So they are keeping them until science catches up..
Now that particular one..
RAY HUME (cont'd)
(Indicates the underlined details) ..happens to be very local..
looks across to staffer..meaningfully
..the fact that it was found where I was born and bred has nothing to do with it…
that sinks in ..but I must confess I do find it interesting, and I think it might be something for you to cut your teeth on, so I'm thinking to ask you to have a look into it for us..?
visibly affected by this assignment after two months of vicars and tea ..of course Mr.O'NEILL .. thank you..
..hmm, we'll see. now it so happens that I remembered this case, and the reporting Officer at the time is or was a friend of mine from school..
(He writes on a pad)
this is his name, PC O'CONNOR as was, and he lived in the police house in Belcoo.. so there is a start for you..I hope.. Ray here..
indicates RAY ... will point you right, just see how you get on..
O'NEIL waves them out and returns to the pages on his desk. ORLA and RAY leave together and return to their desks...
INT. 1974 LOYALIST PUB AT BELCOO EVENING
We see the Irish Pub Interior, various people having a drink. we find a uniformed older policeman, rank of sergeant. at the bar with his Guinness in front of him. Behind him is the door to pub and we see it open, and the slim figure of ORLA KENNON is framed for a moment as she enters, spots the Sergeant, smiles and moves to join him at the bar..
..and you must be Orla, from the paper..
.. Let me buy you a drink..
.. That would be …