Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Meant to be

I came home early from work and took a nap. Seems I'm trying to catch a cold and the battle's been ongoing for the week, so I'd pretty much talked myself into staying in all weekend.

But then I remembered the Albright-Knox was having a viewing of some Irish short films and a documentary on Bernadette Devlin...and I talked myself into going out for dinner then watching them. It was a nasty little argument, too, but Brendan kicked in and reminded me of my obligations, so I bought some cough drops, too.

I'm glad I went. It was a fascinating documentary, apparently done for RTE by a woman who's been as big a firebrand as Bernadette has -- Lelia Doolan. She's been working in Irish film and television since 1961 and is very left-wing. She famously resigned from RET because it would not let her do the projects she wanted, and was director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin for years. She made this documentary just a year ago, while she was well into her 70s.

Bernadette Devlin McAlisky was at the center of the People's Democracy movement in Northern Ireland, was at the October 5th march that wound up brutalized and bloodied by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was on the People's Democracy march in January that was attacked at Burntollet Bridge, was the youngest woman ever to be elected to Parliament (at the age of 20; she took her seat after she turned 21), was part of the rioting in August that brought the British Army into Northern Ireland, and was tried and convicted and sent to jail for "inciting the riots."

She was at Bloody Sunday and famously slapped Reginald Maudling, the Home Secretary in the Conservative government, when he claimed in the House of Commons that the British Army fired in self-defense on Bloody Sunday. When asked if she would apologize to him, afterwards, her snap back was, "I'm only sorry I didn't my hands on his throat." She was also nearly assassinated by radical Unionists on the eve of the hunger strikes that wound up with Bobby Sands and 9 others starving themselves to death. She is still an organizer on the side of human beings and against the state apparatus that keeps people's rights on a tight leash.

She was amazing to listen to and there was archival footage I hadn't seen, before. And what was really interesting was how the times leading up to "the Troubles" are so damned much like the times of today. in the US. The poor being turned against the poor (using race in this country instead of religion) while the rich maintain their control through their casual access to government. Nothing ever seems to change.

At least I don't need to worry about "Place of Safety" even seeming outdated.

As for the shorts - they were mainly cute and polished. The usual stuff.

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