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People of Ireland! (1970)

Courtesy of Cinema Action

Main image of People of Ireland! (1970)
Produced, Directed, Filmed and Edited byCinema Action

An analysis and chronicle of the power struggle in Northern Ireland. Shows the barricaded resistance zone of Free Derry in August 1969, gives instances of the contradiction between labour and describes the movement towards the realisation of a socialist workers' republic.

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People of Ireland! (1971) was filmed in 1969 - the year from which the modern 'Troubles' of Northern Ireland are often dated. 'Free Derry' was the name given to the Nationalist/Catholic areas of the city, particularly the Bogside, which had been barricaded by their communities to separate themselves from the apparatus of the Northern Irish and British governments.

Although the issues of housing and employment are familiar from Cinema Action's films about industrial disputes, here they are subject to sectarianism. Several men talk about the devastating effects of economic migration and the Catch-22 of being barred from work on religious grounds in Northern Ireland and on racial grounds in England.

There is an attack on the influence of the Church throughout the film, sustained by various interviewees and through devices such as a call to guard the barricades being heard over scenes of a congregation. The film's position seeks to divorce identification of working-class interests with differences of creed. In 1969, the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA split, partly because the latter had adopted a similarly Marxist analysis.

The film calls on all workers to support the creation of a socialist republic in Ireland. In this respect, Free Derry is portrayed as exemplary but a warning is contained in the film's end, when elements of the Derry Defence Association broker a compromise deal to disband the barricades after the Prime Minister's visit.

The graffiti and murals are particularly memorable among the indelible images and sounds of the Bogside. The sudden appearance of them at several points works to advance the film's thesis. The giant message "you are now entering Free Derry" has become the most famous of them. The house on which it was painted has been demolished but the wall still exists as a political monument.

Kieron Webb

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Cinema Action