New Documentary on Ballymurphy Massacre 'Rebalances' Hegemonic Views - Filmmaker

© AP Photo / Peter Kemp / British troops confront young rioters on the Ballymurphy Estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1970.
British troops confront young rioters on the Ballymurphy Estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1970. - Sputnik International
The Ballymurphy Massacre at the height of the Troubles is being revisited in a new inquest hearing due to open in September.

Presided over by Justice Siobhan Keegan at Belfast High Court, the hearing hopes to establish precisely want happened during the three-day siege in August 1971 that left 11 civilians dead, and bring closure to the families who lost loved ones.

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A Channel 4 documentary, Massacre at Ballymurphy, aired on the 8 September and revisited the incident in which 600 members of the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment of the British Army allegedly came under fire in a residential area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, prompting them to hit back and become engaged in a violent gun battle.

Sputnik spoke to the filmmaker Sean Murray about the changing of narrative towards Anglo-Irish conflict at the time.

Sputnik: Tell us about your experience making documentaries?

Sean Murray: My journey started in 2013 with the first documentary I made called the long journey home, which detailed the killings in Gibraltar of three IRA volunteers in March 1998.

It was a powerful documentary to me; some of the films that influenced me would have been death on the rock, made by Thames Television, in 1988 which Margaret Thatcher tried to stop the documentary being made by Roger Bolton. I then made in 2014 the Ballymurphy documentary that was an advocate for the family which lead to the new film.

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Sputnik: Is there a changing narrative this these documentaries towards Anglo-Irish conflict

Sean Murray: There’s a major kickback particularly within unionism now, with British government in fact and unionism to these changing stories.

There was always a hegemonic view of the conflict and focusing on the actives of the IRA. I’ve just been collating information on conflict documentaries that have been airing since 1981 through institutional TV.

The vast amount of documentaries that were made was of the hegemonic view, they were about an IRA terrorist campaign, and the British government were peaceful arbitrators, keeping warring factions apart. These new conflict documentaries where there isn’t this one view, there are many views. The rebalancing has begun. 

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Sputnik: Is there hypocrisy of British media coverage of the conflict which has sought to minimise the brutal, murderous role the British Army and their paramilitary proxies played in Ireland.

Sean Murray: What happened around Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy in 1971, there were investigative journalist at the BBC at the time who tried to cover what had happened fairly.

But we’ve seen for the first time when I was researching as far back as 1971, we saw how the government started getting involved in the BBC. An example an eyewitness saw the priest getting killed, it was aired on BBC radio quickly afterwards.

Lord Carrington intervened with the BBC and pressured them not to make statements like that again without it being verified. We see the oppression right away of an alternative view of what had happened in Ballymurphy. Then just like Bloody Sunday started to feed the media with this information and malicious lies and that narrative has stuck to this day.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Sean Murray and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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