MLA candidate defends Hazel Stewart/Colin Howell murder drama

Lauren Bradford, Lesley Howell's daughter
Lauren Bradford, Lesley Howell's daughter

A politician from the region where the infamous Howell-Stewart killings took place has said he understands there are “sensitivities” around the screening of a drama based on the crimes.

However Adrian McQuillan – who was DUP MLA for East Londonderry until the Assembly was dissolved – said that such concerns would not put him off watching the drama, adding that he believed it had been told in a “sensitive way” so far.

He was speaking as relatives of the pair killed in Castlerock in 1991 voiced dismay over the decision to air the TV show ‘The Secret’, based on those real-life events.

The four-part drama stars Northern Irish actor James Nesbitt, and is presently being screened on UTV.

Mr McQuillan (who is vying for his East Londonderry seat again on Thursday) said: “I think that the writer [former PA journalist Deric Henderson] has done a fair good job.

“What I saw of it on TV now, it portrayed the story well enough... I can understand the sensitivities and all about it, and if you’d lived through that yourself you’d understand it even better.

“But, you know, the story has been told and has to be told, I suppose. People are intrigued by it because it happened locally.”

Asked if he would be put off watching more of the show, he said: “No, it certainly wouldn’t, no. But I can understand if you were a family member how it’d be very hard to watch.”

Writing in The Guardian newspaper on Monday, Lauren Bradford – daughter of Lesley Howell – spoke of having put up “resistance” to the drama, to little avail.

She said that the show fails to capture her mother’s “ambition and drive, her wicked sense of humour, her thoughtfulness and warmth”.

She added: “The reality of murder is devoid of eerie music or close-ups, just devastation and sorrow: first for the murders themselves, then for a justice process that strips them of control, and finally for the unnecessary sensationalisation of events in the aftermath.”