Screening at Solstice, Navan, this week, is 'Unquiet Graves: The story of the Glenanne Gang' which details how members of the RUC and UDR were centrally involved in the murder of over 120 innocent civilians during the recent conﬂict in Ireland. Narrated by actor Stephen Rea, it tells how members worked hand in hand with known sectarian murderers in the targeted assassinations of farmers, shopkeepers, publicans and other civilians in a campaign aimed at terrorising the most vulnerable in society. Now known as the Glenanne Gang, the group of killers rampaged through Counties Tyrone and Armagh and across into the Irish Republic in a campaign that lasted from July 1972 to the end of 1978.
The screening on Thursday night at 7.30pm will be followed by a Q&A with director Seán Murray, an award-winning ﬁlmmaker from Belfast. His recent ﬁlm, 'Fractured City' won a Royal Television Society Award at the BFI in London's South Bank.
He is also director of Relapse Pictures, a Belfast-based production company specialising in a range of work, including documentary and film. He has directed a number of testimony-based documentaries dealing with legacy issues pertaining to the recent conﬂict in the North of Ireland and his recent ﬁlm Ballymurphy was screened at a number of international festivals. Tickets: €10 / 9 (conc)
In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement heralded a new era within Irish and British politics. Bolstered by the validation oﬀered by referenda both north and south, the prospect of a shared future was greeted with great hope and optimism. The involvement of the Clinton White House administration created a greater international dynamic to the agreement with media outlets readily reporting the success as a template for other global conﬂicts. However, when the bright lights and media frenzy had calmed down, many diﬃcult legacies of the conﬂict remained to be addressed. In particular, a growing community of victims and survivors suﬀer psychological trauma and social and economic exclusion from the eﬀects of over thirty years of political violence.
There is now general acknowledgment that adequate government support was seldom put in place to tackle issues of conﬂict-related trauma across a broad spectrum of victims and survivors. In the absence of such support, the work of ﬁlmmakers has increasingly sought to address this phenomenon by highlighting issues concerning transitional justice; a task complicated by contested interpretations of what deﬁnes justice. For Unionism emphasis on the application of law, order and security tends to take precedence in these debates, while nationalists invariably stress the requirement of parity and social justice. Such agreements are further complicated by the role of the media, which for over thirty years has been far from an impartial arbitrator between the political ideologies of both traditions, habitually presenting a legacy of dominant narratives shaped by state censorship and control, both north and south.
I have had many inﬂuences on my journey to completing ‘Unquiet Graves’. The inspiration for such work can be drawn from a number of early ﬁlms that enlightened me to the power of documentary. The work of the late Art McCaig oﬀered alternative narratives to the political discourse being beamed from broadcast channels under an atmosphere of censorship during the recent conﬂict, while television documentaries, such as Death on the Rock, (Roger Bolton, 1988) challenged the British state in its cover up of the executions of three Irish citizens in Gibraltar in March 1988. The exceptional investigative work carried out by the English journalists and ﬁlmmakers was later vindicated by a ruling at the ECHR that the killings breached Article 2 of the Convention on Human Rights.
Under the current political climate activist ﬁlmmakers have a duty and responsibility to both engage and contribute to the process of conﬂict transformation. The foregrounding of the personal cost to the horrors of our past oﬀers an empowering voice to victims, one that holds no political authority but can be seen as both redressing the past for some and rebalancing a new historical understanding of the conﬂict.