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Billy Hutchinson is from the Shankill Road Belfast. He left school at fifteen with no qualifications and was imprisoned in Long Kesh (the Compounds at Maze and Long Kesh Prison) between 1974-1990. Billy studied Social Sciences with The Open University from 1984-90. He was in charge of the Ulster Volunteer Force/Red Hand Commando prisoners and involved in negotiations with the prison authorities and the British Government to close the Compounds housing Special Category prisoners and the release of all political prisoners housed in Long Kesh Compounds. On his release in 1990 he completed his degree and graduated in 1992. While in the Compoun...ds he also studied a distance learning course in Planning with the University of Dundee. After his release Billy continued to work with the UVF to bring about a ceasefire in 1994. He was a leading member of the Progressive Unionist Party and involved in talks culminating in the Belfast Agreement. He was Director of the Springfield Intercommunity Development Project and a lay member of the Department of Education and Training Inspectorate. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly as MLA for North Belfast in 1998 where he served until 2003. At time of interview in 2011 he was Councillor on Belfast City Council and worked as Co-ordinator for the Mount Vernon Community Development Forum. Subsequently, Billy became leader of the Progressive Unionist Party.
Metadata describing this Open University audio clip
Title: It allowed me to see things differently
Description: Billy Hutchinson recalls how his academic study with the Open University in the Compounds (the Maze and Long Kesh Prison) in the 1980s helped equip him to negotiate with governments and political opponents during the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Rights statement: Rights owned or controlled by The Open University
Restrictions on use: Contact the OU Archive prior to any re-use. Contact
Contributor: Billy Hutchinson
Duration: 00:01:25
Master programe code and title: Billy Hutchinson Interview
Master programme start time: 00:40:59
Master programme end time: 00:42:24
Master programme production number: 002_S_01
Available to public: yes