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Topical Budget: Ireland

TB witnessed and recorded one of Ireland's most turbulent periods

Main image of Topical Budget: Ireland

In 1931, the Pathé Gazette newsreel held a poll among its audiences to determine which was the most popular of a selection of stories featured over the past twenty-one years. Top of the poll came the coronation of King George V in 1911; next came scenes from the First World War, the King's illness (1928), the R101 airship disaster (1930), the investiture of the Prince of Wales (1911), the spectacular burning of Smyrna (1922), and the British Empire Exhibition (1924). Bottom came 'pictures of Soviet Russia' and 'war conditions in Ireland'.

The poll is an interesting reflection of what one newsreel felt were the highlights of its past, and a not surprising reflection of audience tastes. It is an indication of the commitment to hard news stories, for which the newsreels of this time aren't always given credit, that Topical Budget devoted between ten and twenty percent of its output to Ireland in the early 1920s, covering the creation of the Irish Free State and the ensuing civil war. Its coverage was extensive, varied, and relatively free from comment. Its stance was the declared position of the British government, hoping for an equitable peace settlement and upholding the validity of the Irish Free State. Chiefly it was interested in providing dramatic pictures, and these it was able to provide in abundance.

The background history comes from the growing Irish demands for Home Rule that began in the 1870s. Ireland was then united with Great Britain as a single country, following the Act of Union in 1801. After two Home Rules bills had failed, the Liberals introduced a third in 1912, only for it to be shelved on the outset of the First World War. A rebellion took place in Dublin in Easter 1916, which sought immediate independence for Ireland and proclaimed a provisional Irish Republic. The rebellion was overturned and the leaders executed by the British.

The process resumed after the war, with Ireland being given dominion status in December 1921. However, this excluded six of the nine counties of Ulster, where the Protestant majority wanted to remain with Great Britain, and which was given limited self-government as Northern Ireland. The Irish Free State was proclaimed on 6 December 1922, but it was held to be unacceptable by Eamonn de Valera's Fianna Fáil party, which sought independence for the totality of Ireland. Civil war ensued, which lasted through into 1923.

Luke McKernan

Films and TV programmes

Topical Budget 151-1: Orange Day (1914)
Topical Budget 245-2: The Dublin Rebellion (1916)
Topical Budget 247-1: Trial of Casement (1916)
Topical Budget 247-2: Sinn Fein Rebels (1916)
Topical Budget 486-1: Ireland's Agony (1920)
Topical Budget 511-1: Ulster's Parliament Assembles (1921)
Topical Budget 515-2: Is It The Dawn? (1921)
Topical Budget 516-1: 'I Want Peace' (1921)
Topical Budget 524-1: Ireland's Fate Decided in the Highlands (1921)
Topical Budget 529-1: Is It Peace? (1921)
Topical Budget 529-2: Government's Answer to De Valera (1921)
Topical Budget 533: Will There Be Peace in Ireland? (1921)
Topical Budget 534-1: Historic Unionist Conference at Liverpool (1921)
Topical Budget 537-1: 'Forgive and Forget' (1921)
Topical Budget 537-1: Irish Free State (1921)
Topical Budget 537-1: Peace Council At The Palace (1921)
Topical Budget 537-2: Irish Peace Imperilled by Extremists (1921)
Topical Budget 538-?: Further Pictures of Irish Peace (1921)
Topical Budget 543-1: 'Surrender' of Dublin Castle (1922)
Topical Budget 543-2: British Evacuate Ireland (1922)
Topical Budget 544-1: The Great Trek (1922)
Topical Budget 544-2: Hunting in Full Swing in Irish Free State (1922)
Topical Budget 563-2: Ulster's Gallant Woman Admiral (1922)
Topical Budget 564-1: Battle of Belleek (1922)
Topical Budget 566-2: Civil War in Ireland (1922)
Topical Budget 567-2: Dublin's Civil War (1922)
Topical Budget 568-2: Ulster Day the Twelfth (1922)
Topical Budget 570-1: Fall of Limerick (1922)
Topical Budget 575-1: Let The Dublin Guards Bury Me (1922)
Topical Budget 589-2: Rebirth of a Nation (1922)
Topical Budget 627-1: Free State or Republic? (1923)
Topical Budget 674-2: Duke and Duchess of York (1924)
Topical Budget 75-2: Derry Election Day (1913)