Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Irish Ways

  • Rating: **
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $390.00
  • Date: Copyright 1989. Released 1989.
  • Descriptors: Irish Republican Army. Great Britain - History - 20th century.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Arthur MacCaig. Color. 52 min.
  • Production Company: F Productions
  • Available from: First Run/Icarus Films 153 Waverly Pl., 6th Floor New York, NY 10014 (212)243-0600
  • Cataloging: 941.60824 Great Britain - History - 20th century
  • Print Entry #: 2:1324
  • Reviewer: Norman G. Raiford, Ph.D.

    The apparent purpose of this program is to portray in as favorable a light as possible the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its political wing, the Sinn Fein. Members of the IRA offer their personal stories and political viewpoints via interviews. Included is actual footage of hooded and machine-gun-armed IRA enlistees roaming through neighborhood streets filled with casually interested pedestrians. Formerly imprisoned IRA members recount the circumstances that led to their incarceration. Hunger-striking imprisoned IRA members speak of their painful memories. Mourners and a funeral cortege for an IRA "soldier" killed in action fill the screen. Heavily armed British forces appear in what seems like every frame of this video shot in Northern Ireland. Viewers are spared any graphic scenes of carnage but can clearly perceive the state of war in which Northern Ireland finds itself - though there is little hint of any responsibility resting with the IRA.

    While the program takes the form of a documentary, it makes little pretense to objectivity. Very few scenes suggest that there may be more than one side in the issues dividing Northern Ireland, and only one segment permits the British authorities to characterize as a cowardly act of terrorism the bombing of a bus loaded with unarmed soldiers in civilian garb (eight soldiers died in that bombing). At one point the narrator informs us that "Northern Ireland is a state that has never been at peace," but the video spends precious few seconds in recounting the background of the struggles rooted deep in Irish and English history. The result is a program that serves truth poorly and IRA publicity rather gratuitously.

    What would have made this program useful for educational purposes is some attempt to present a balanced account of Ireland's truly pathetic history and ongoing strife. Interviews with scholars, totally absent from this production, would have lent credibility to the narration. A few additional minutes spent in recounting the historic British connection to Northern Ireland going back to King Henry II's reign in the 1100s and traversing through the horrors of Oliver Cromwell's bloodletting in 17th-century Ireland would have been informative. A discussion of Irish policy regarding British government officials would also have been helpful. Lacking these, the program fails to serve any accurate informational purpose.

    Also, unfortunately for American audiences, there is a technical difficulty in that the narrators' Irish accents render the dialogue almost unintelligible. Only late in the program does the ear become attuned to catch the words of some of the interviewees and narrators.

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