Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. Monday, September 10, 2018
There has been huge online reaction to the network premiere of Massacre at Ballymurphy, the hard-hitting documentary by award-winning film-maker Callum Macrea which screened on Channel 4 at the weekend.
The film, which was previously premiered at Féile an Phobail, was shown on Saturday, with a reconstruction and forensic examination of the events which started on August 9, 1971.
The documentary contains personal stories from relatives of the 10 people shot dead in west Belfast by members of the parachute regiment over three days of horrific violence.
Paddy McCarthy, considered the 11th victim, died of a heart attack after British soldiers fired shots over his head.
Among the dead were mother-of-eight Joan Connolly and Fr Hugh Mullan, who was shot dead going to the rescue of another victim.
The film details a shocking re-enactment of the circumstances of Daniel Teggart’s death.
He was shot 14 times, and most of the bullets entered his back as he lay injured on the ground.
Following the programme Unionist Irish language activist Linda Ervine posted on Twitter: “Before watching #MassacreAtBallymurphy I had no knowledge of what took place all those years ago. A terrible wrong has been done”.
Another documentary maker, Seán Murray, said he hoped the screening of the film by Channel 4 “awakens the British public to the actions of their government during the conflict. Well done to my friend Callum Macrae and all involved”.
Journalist and broadcaster Eamonn Holmes tweeted in support of Mr Macrea, saying: “Regardless of your political persuasion or views on the Northern Irish Troubles, I would urge you to both hear what this man has to say and watch his film if you can. The year is 1971. The subject is the killing of civilians by the Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy West Belfast.”
Ian Katz, director of programmes at Channel 4, said: “Ashamed to say I knew nothing about the Ballymurphy massacre – the 1971 killing of 11 men and women by the British army in Belfast – till I saw Callum Macrae’s meticulous and shocking reconstruction of it.”
Scottish political activist Tommy Sheridan said it was “absolutely shocking”.
“I am ashamed that despite my limited knowledge of British army atrocities in Northern Ireland I didn’t know about these state murders in Ballymurphy,” he said.
“No wonder the British Establishment have hidden such massacres from the general public for 47 years.”
Former soldier Glenn Bradley said he had “met the Ballymurphy families some years ago and have supported their call for truth since”.
“I watched Massacre At Ballymurphy and my lasting thought is how docile and compliant were the media then”.
Belfast boxer Michael Conlan said: “Watching Ballymurphy Massacre and listening to what families have gone through and still going through, my eyes are filling up, very sad stories to poor innocent families”.
Former Antrim football captain Anto Finnegan said: “This is not rewriting history, this is shining a light into that dark place those in power want to keep hidden.”
Rather than simply bemoaning the lack of an Executive in the North, the Taoiseach should be asserting his government’s role as co-guarantor of previous agreements in order to help re-establish it, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
The Sinn Féin Vice President was responding to comments made by Leo Varadkar at the Fine Gael ‘think-in’ today in Galway.
She said: “It is disappointing to hear the Taoiseach bemoaning the fact that the North is still without an Assembly and Executive as if his government has no responsibilities for ensuring the right conditions are in place for a power-sharing administration to be re-established.
“The institutions of the Good Friday Agreement must be underpinned by the principles of equality, mutual respect and parity of esteem that are guaranteed by that agreement. That is not the case if the DUP, supported by the British Government, persist with denying rights and equality to citizens in the North.
“Leo Varadkar would not tolerate discrimination against the LGBT community, women, victims and Irish speakers in Dublin. He should not tolerate it in Belfast either.
“The Dublin Government should assert its full role as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement in order to help restore the political institutions and address directly the core problem of the denial of rights.
“Leo Varadkar has pledged not to abandon northern citizens in the context of Brexit. He also has responsibilities to them in terms of rights and his government, rather than engaging in party political attacks, should be showing leadership in securing and defending rights which are routinely delivered everywhere else on this island.”
Speaking after a phone call with British Secretary of State Karen Bradley today, Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill said today that the price of the Tories’ toxic pact with the DUP is no Assembly and no Executive.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“I spoke to the British Secretary of State Karen Bradley today and it is abundantly clear that her government’s plan is to do nothing to help restore the political institutions in the north.
“The Tory government has no regard for the people of the north and the price of its toxic pact with the DUP is no Assembly and no Executive.
“They continue to put their own selfish party political interests above the need to have political institutions which can deliver front-line public services and equality for all our citizens.
“The British government continues to facilitate the DUP’s denial of rights enjoyed by citizens everywhere else on these islands
“The denial of marriage rights, language rights, women’s rights and the right to a coroner’s inquest would not be tolerated in Britain and is unacceptable in the north.”
Michelle O’Neill also said that publication by the British government of guidance on a No Deal Brexit confirms the Tories’ absolute contempt for the people of the north. She said:
“The guidance published today confirms the absolute contempt and blatant disregard the Tories have for the people of the north.
“It confirms the disastrous consequences of Brexit, including more bureaucracy and more expense for businesses.
“It also confirms the British government’s utter lack of preparation for the No Deal scenario they are hurtling towards.
“There is an onus on the Taoiseach and the Tanáiste to stand up for the rights of Irish citizens and in the national interest on Brexit and there needs to be an urgent special meeting in September between Britain and the EU to deal exclusively with the arrangements for the north.” ENDS/CRÍOCH
A leading expert argues that a united Ireland is now unstoppable and a question of when rather than if is the only thing left to be decided.
The debate about Irish reunification is now alive and kicking, with endless chatter over the last year about the prospects of a historic border poll taking place in the next few years. There are various strands that are beginning to weave together, creating, what I believe, will prove to be unstoppable momentum. So here are ten reasons why a united Ireland is now on the way:
Northern Ireland was designed to lock-in Protestant-Unionist ascendancy. This is why it only includes six counties of the ancient province of Ulster. (The other three had Catholics majorities). Even so, the last census in 2011 showed that Protestant-Unionists now account for less than half (48%) the population of Northern Ireland, with Catholics on 45%. Of course, not all Catholics want a united Ireland, just as not all Protestants hate the idea, but the figures are still a pretty good indicator of where support lies.
The ground has shifted dramatically in recent years, with Catholics now outnumbering Protestants at every level of the education system. Let’s put it this way, the voters who will ensure there’s a united Ireland have already been born.
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union back in June 2016 has electrified the debate about Irish unity. On average, 56% of people in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union (with Catholic-Nationalists voting by as much as 88%). For many soft nationalists and even for a growing number of unionists, the loss of their EU citizenship is building support for Irish unity. More than a quarter (28%) of a cross-section of people in Northern Ireland said the UK's decision to leave the EU had made them more likely to vote for a united Ireland, according to a BBC poll. Meanwhile, another poll for British radio station, LBC, found that leaving the EU is more important to average British voters than keeping Northern Ireland in the UK.
In the 2017 elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, Sinn Fein came within 1,100 votes from beating the Democratic Unionists into second place. Just 30,000 votes or so now separate parties committed to Irish unity from those who favor remaining part of Britain. At the next elections, scheduled for 2022, SF may well top the poll, with parties committed to Irish unity, or just those in favor of holding a referendum about it, in a majority. If this happens, the British Government, which decides when a referendum on Northern Ireland’s future status can be called under the terms of Good Friday Agreement, will be hard-pushed to avoid heeding the call.
The hard bit is already done. The actual process for bringing about a united Ireland was confirmed 20 years ago with the signing of the GFA. It allows for a referendum on Irish unity if “at any time” it appears likely to the British Secretary of State “that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.” The blueprint is already in place. All it now needs now are the right conditions to be met.
Back in 2014, the Scots voted narrowly to stay in the UK by just 55-45%.The British political establishment threw everything into persuading them to remain, with dire predictions about life outside the UK. These ‘Project Fear’ warnings had little effect and the campaign for independence got stronger and stronger throughout the campaign. Remember, this was before Brexit, where 63% of Scots chose to stay in the EU.
So the scene is set for another vote on independence in the next few years, with nationalists complaining about being forced out of the EU against their wishes by the English. Scotland’s a much bigger deal for the UK and if goes, taking its oil fields and nuclear submarine bases with it, losing Northern Ireland, in comparison, will feel like an afterthought.
When people in Britain think of Northern Ireland there’s a general air of bewilderment. They remember the IRA bombings and wonder why Orangemen want to walk down streets where they are not wanted. That’s if they think of the place at all. They have little affinity with Northern Ireland, with many wondering why Britain is still there. There’s also brooding English resentment at the Democratic Unionists, who prop up Theresa May’s government in the House of Commons in return for £1 billion in extra funding. Senior members of Theresa May’s own party were appalled at the arrangement, given the DUP’s blatant homophobia, while the poorer English regions are angry at the special treatment given to unionists at, as they see it, their expense.
Northern Ireland’s economy is set to be devastated by Brexit. Why would outside investors (many from the US) entertain the idea of basing themselves in Northern Ireland, which, after Brexit, no longer has automatic access to the EU’s single market? In contrast, opening up down the road in the Republic guarantees lower taxes and immediate access to the single market. For many Northern Irish business leaders and farmers, the hard reality of Brexit makes Irish unity the obvious solution.
Northern Ireland amounts to just 1.5% of the UK’s economy and is reliant on a £10 billion grant from the British Government each year. The place makes no economic sense and has seen its traditional industries wane over the past 50 years. A report from 2016 by a team of European academics modeled the effects of Irish unity and found that a single Irish state would generate tens of billions of Euro in extra economic activity straightaway, with the north benefiting most from emulating the successes of southern Ireland.
If Northern Ireland votes to become part of a single Irish state, the people who already live in the Republic will have to vote on it too. So what’s in it for the south? First off, this is clearly unfinished business for most Irish people. The reunification of the country is a deeply and sincerely held belief. (Polls routinely show two-thirds in favor). Furthermore, it will increase the Irish population to nearly seven million, making the Republic a bigger player in the European Union and creating a larger domestic economy.
Northern Ireland simply wasn’t built to last. Its creation was a back foot political compromise from a beleaguered British government that couldn’t defeat the IRA’s guerrilla campaign during the War of Independence, but didn’t want to be humiliated and felt it owed something to unionists, (especially as so many served in the First World War). So it split the difference. History usually tells us anything created as a messy compromise is not destined to last. As Northern Ireland crawls to its centenary in 1921, many are asking, will it survive much longer?
Mary Lou McDonald speaking at a rally in West Belfast to show support for Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey and their families following recent bomb attacks on their homes slams those responsible as cowards.