Tan War film wins Cannes Film Festival Award

Ken Loach’s ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ has claimed the Palme D’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film is about brothers who join the republican struggle during the Tan war and continues into the post-treaty civil war period. It is due for release in Ireland in June. Loach also won a top accolade at the Cannes Festival for his 1990 film Hidden Agenda, which was about the British army’s shoot-to-kill campaign in the 1980s.

  • Mick Fealty

    Great for Britain (or here), says the FT! Also there’s an interesting review of Hidden Agenda here. It won the Prix du Jury as did Raining Stones two years later. However, Barley won the Palm d’Or, which is the top prize in Cannes.

  • Pete Baker

    Actually Chris, the seeming desire to mention Hidden Agenda has misled you.

    Ken Loach hasn’t won the top accolade before at all.. despite several other nominations.

    In 1990, Ken Loach won the Prix de Jury, but not the top accolade of the Palm d’Or, for Hidden Agenda.

    As he did for Raining Stones in 1993

    He did also get an award for his entire body of work in 2004, the 30th Anniversary Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.. they might have been afraid he wouldn’t be back..

    Look, it’s very simple, it’s not Ken Loach’s best work.. but it’s clearly more than competent and probably better than most in the competition.. but it does strike a chord with the ‘anti-involvement in Iraq’ crowd.. Ken has been pushing that angle in advance of the competition.. and that’s the angle that’s nudged it to the front of the queue this year – don’t forget that Fahrenheit 9/11 won this award in 2004 *shakes head*


    The directors earlier film Land and Freedom is one of my favourite movies, and Loach is one of my favourite directors.That being said, he is not without his flaws, and a lot of the French media are critical of this award because it doesn’t break new ground in terms of his style or body of work.

    Myself, I have high hopes for the movie and I hope it takes a similar approach as Land and Freedom in that it explores the dynamic and conflict within a movement.
    If it turns out to be another Republicans are all great/Brits are all bastards ( four legs good/two leg bad) affair, I’ll be sorely disappointed

  • Mick Fealty

    Apparently there is a discussion scene in it, a bit like the one in L&F. This time he took three hours of footage, for a relatively short scene in the final cut. It was a great device first time round for opening up the individual vs the collective question. That film didn’t go down well in some quarters for its Orwell-like critique of communist actions in Catalonia.

  • Doctor Who

    I will reserve judgememt until I see the film.

    If it is anything like as unapolegetically biased as Hidden Agenda, well then I know what to expect. Loach even had a Sinn Fein councillor in that film justifying the “occasional loss of life” of innocent people by the IRA in a war situation.

    Loach has been a wonderful film maker but objective he is not, he preaches his own politics in film. In every one of his movies you will get a propaganda monologue from an actor, usually between the “lighter” moments, not challenged in it´s content and shrugged off as fact by all the protaganists as matter of fact.

    Loach has stated that this film tells the story of the Irish Civil War, a story that is known little about outside Ireland. The fact is this a period of Irish history which is often overlooked and revised by the Irish themslves. By focusing on atrocities carried out by merciless card board cut out British puppets, then ignoring barbarity shown by IRA and pro treaty Irish, again like Hidden Agenda, he has clearly shown which team he bats for.

    I will watch this film when it hits the screen, probably more objectively than that of the reasons it was made.

    Having said that I haven´t enjoyed a Ken Loach film since Raining Stones, and I suspect this to be the same. Who wants to go to the cinema to be preached too for 2 hours. Loach would of made a great propagandist in the Third Reich.

  • Garibaldy


    land and freedom rightly provoked a great deal of hostility because it was an insult to many of those who fought in the spanish civil war. it ignored the fact that the trotskyist and anarchist groupings contributed to the fascist victory by deserting their posts at crucial times to attack the republican government. WWII demonstrated that the only way to defeat fascism was through disciplined and directed action not through taking votes on which battles to fight.

    As for this film about 1919-23, I suspect it will reflect the same infantile and delusional view of Irish politics at this time demonstrated by the Irish character in land and freedom. Loach’s film and his attitudes to Ireland reflect a major problem of a significant portion of the British left, who are so infatuated with the whiff of cordite that they never stop to properly analyse the situation in the north. Having little or no influence in Britain, they expend their energy to no positive effect on Ireland.

  • Pete Baker

    Also worth pointing out, Chris, that as well as “The film is about brothers who join the republican struggle”.. it’s about the brothers ending up on opposite sides.. and includes one of the brothers killing a former compadre who is identified as an informant.

  • Pete Baker

    btw.. you should amend the post in regard to your line –

    Loach last won the top accolade for his 1990 film Hidden Agenda

    It’s inaccurate.

  • My ears are ringing from the din of grinding axes and no one has admitted watching the goddamn thing yet.

    You guys need a Den Mother.

    Fair play to Loach.

  • Harry

    Dr. Who & Garibaldy seem to think that portraying the British as terrorists in ireland at that time is ‘one-sided’ & ‘delusional’. Apparently they think that showing a nation fighting for its freedom against an invading terrorist force is somehow wrong and ‘infantile’. What do they want exactly? Half-hour vignettes of the inner-thoughts and family backgrounds of every terrorist british soldier just prior to showing them getting shot, “just to show balance”?

    Wake up you self-serving eejits. The British are a terrorist force in this land. And you are nothing but their apologists, the equivalaent of the German Police in Occupied France or the Belo-Russian regiments in the SS. You are a minority masquerading as a majority.

  • Harry Flashman

    Hey where’d the Che Guevara thread go? When I went to bed last night we were still in Blogspot and just getting started. I wanted to add my many varied and no doubt much appreciated pearls of wisdom on the subject but I come down this morning, we’re back to the way we were and oul’ Che’s been lost in transit.

  • Fly Biscuit :

    “it ignored the fact that the trotskyist and anarchist groupings contributed to the fascist victory by deserting their posts at crucial times to attack the republican government.”

    What a slander……if the above 2 factions did in deed “desert” their posts ever, it was probably because the by then Stalinist backed republican government was slaughtering their kin & comrades, with Uncle Joes medicated purgative.

  • DK

    “it ignored the fact that the trotskyist and anarchist groupings contributed to the fascist victory by deserting their posts at crucial times to attack the republican government”

    Erm, I seem to remember a scene in the film where they are in a city fighting a rival leftist group (which contained another English volunteer from Liverpool) & they kill them with a hand-grenade.

  • The Dubliner

    “Look, it’s very simple, it’s not Ken Loach’s best work.. but it’s clearly more than competent and probably better than most in the competition.. but it does strike a chord with the ‘anti-involvement in Iraq’ crowd.. Ken has been pushing that angle in advance of the competition.. and that’s the angle that’s nudged it to the front of the queue this year – don’t forget that Fahrenheit 9/11 won this award in 2004 *shakes head* ” – Pete

    Great bit of fairground mindreading of judges there, Gypsy Rose Pete. It could, of course, simply be that it nominated for and then awarded the Palme D’Or prize because it was outstanding filmmaking – which, oddly enough, is the stated criteria for the event.

  • Garibaldy


    I attack Loach for supporting groups who hampered the fight against fascism in Spain and misunderstanding the nature of Irish politics from a left perspective, and now I’m a nazi sympathiser. Interesting grasp of logic there.

    As for Ireland, you noticed I based my comments on a previous portrayal he had of an Irish guerilla (where did I say that the Tan War was terrorist?) My point actually was that to look at the Irish character in land and freedom, and from what a review of this new film said about its portrayal of the social ideas of the characters in this film, you would thiink that all the Tan War or anti-Trearty people were really Bolsheviks. Which is utter nonsense.

    The tendency on the British left to laud anyone using violence as automatically revolutionary is infantile, and is the result of sentimentality and guilt, not serious analysis based on socialist principles. But perhaps before you compare me to a nazi, you should make sure you understand my argument.

    As for Pugachev and DK, yes there was inter-republican violence, and there shouldn’t have been. However, the truth is that the actions of these factions were hampering the war effort and military effectiveness (e.g. the anarchists taking over the telephone exchange and cutting communications). By implementing their policies which lacked support they also were undermining the support the republican government had.

    My point was that in a battle with fascism, half measures will not succeed. The factions attacking the democratic republican government had to be dealt with, and unfortunately violence was the best way at the time. Perhaps had the army been centralised and reorganised earlier, Franco might have been might.

    On the Stalin point. Oh, how evil, Stalin gave guns and support to a democratically elected government, which was not socialist, much less communist in a fight against fascism. What did the British, French and Americans, the bastions of democracy do again?

    As for Orwell, don’t get me started.

  • Brian Boru

    Haven’t seen it but it’s important to clarify the context of those times – especially seeing the brutality of the British forces of occupation of the time. We down here see the Southern conflict as separate from the Northern one, which is largely based on traditional Northern sectarianism. Protestants took part in the War of Independence too.

    This movie also will hopefully shine as a beacon against imperialism worldwide. I hope it will act as an encouragement to oppressed peoples to liberate themselves from colonial powers – while not targeting civilians unlike ETA and the Provos. Those who fought in 1919-21 fought like soldiers, not terrorists. In contrast the Tans and the British fought like terrorists, not soldiers.

  • andy

    Hi Garibaldy
    You may be interested to read Anthony Beever’s new book on the Spanish Civil War, although I don’t think you’d like what it says.

    I saw Beever do a presentation on it a couple of days ago, and although very critical of Franco and the assorted Nationalists, he was equally critical of the way the NKVD and other Stalinist organs used immense violence against “fellow republicans”.

    i’ve just started reading the book, I’ll let you know if it says anything new when i finish it…


  • Garibaldy

    Hey Andy,

    thanks for that. I saw Beevor give a talk once, on the writing of his Berlin 1945 book. It was a bit self-congratulatory to say the least, involving stories of him and his beautiful assistant outwitting Russian archivists. Having said that, his work is good, and not as hysterical about the USSR as some.

    As I said above, the inter-republican violence should not have happened, but to be honest, I’m not entirely sure the republican government was left much choice at certain points. If someone cuts your communications in the middle of a war, what are you supposed to do?

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the book.

  • ballymichael

    Hmm, the FT thinks the second half of the film on the civil war was excellent, the first half mechanical
    If they’ve managed to avoid “Collins Good, Dev Bad” cliches, then it’ll be worth seeing.



    I’ll have to try and dig it up, but I read a rcent interview in which Loach made some very interesting commments, including one in which he said that Collins would have been an Irish Franco, given the chance.

  • To Predictable

    “Look, it’s very simple, it’s not Ken Loach’s best work.. but it’s clearly more than competent and probably better than most in the competition.. but it does strike a chord with the ‘anti-involvement in Iraq’ crowd.. “ – Pete

    You’ve seen the film then Pete?

  • Garibaldy


    I suspect that Kevin O’Higgins was a more likely candidate for the Franco role. Although in fairness to the Free State Army, it did nothing when its former opponents came to power, so it seems highly unlikely to say the least that the only thing that stopped Ireland from becoming fascist was the death of an individual or two, anymore than we would have had a socialist republic had Connolly survived 1916. I don’t think history works that way anyway, having a less simplistic understanding of it than Loach, quality director though he might be

  • Prince Eoghan

    It should be worth remembering that Loach is only guilty of telling stories in a way we are usually not used to being told them.

    These films are not aimed at the intelligentsia on here who quite rightly look for more, but sometimes analyse things to death. How else do we get the story of what has happened without doing it in a way that will upset some. Braveheart, although not a great example, helped motivate Scots to understand that Scotland had a history that is worth being proud of. Due to the fact that history classes in Scottish schools previously consisted of an English British history.

    I loved the scene in Land and Freedom, where the collective discussion produced anguish that captivated. So what if the left fell out over it. If they hadn’t fell out at the time it would have been better for all. The point is that it is a vehicle that allows an important story to be told. Who cares if it is good Irish, bad Brit. Is that so far from the truth.

    This for many will be a way of getting a piece of history across to the masses that the Brits are only too happy to bury. Shame on those who may be hell bent on helping them by their pedantry critique.

  • Garibaldy

    Prine Eoghan,

    Loach is guilty of misrepresenting important political events where people’s lives were lost, and that he likes to say have contemporary relevance. Making contemporary political points via historical films leaves them open to political analysis. And Loach’s analysis of the Spanish Civil War and Irish events is deeply, deeply flawed. I don’t care if political points are made via films – after all I have Sergei Eisenstein in my dvd collection – but I’m entitled to argue political points.

    Getting history to the masses is important, but the wrong type of history can be dangerous – be it Peter Hart or Ken Loach.

  • Prince Eoghan


    I can’t disagree with what you are saying. However the vast majority are not interested in the wherefor’s, and inspiring some to seek out the fundamental’s could in the long run be more beneficial.

  • DK


    I started reading Anthony Beevers SCW book and had to give up – very confusing & badly written. I read Berlin and Stalingrad and liked both of them, so not sure what’s up with the SCW book.

    Didn’t a whole load of ex-Blueshirts go off and fight for Franco, but were fired for incompetence or something?

  • Garibaldy


    The Blueshirt contingent was indeed a disaster. Legend has it they never made it beyond the port, but according to Fearghal McGarry’s book on Eoin O’Duffy, they did see some action, but were disbanded and basically sent home after less than two months in action, having killed more of Franco’s men than of the enemy. They appear to have spent most of their time hammered and fighting each other.

    On Beever, I think his first book was on the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps he has just reworked old material, explaining the difference in readibility.

  • DK

    So much for the volunteers! Did any Irish volunteer for the other side(s)?

  • Garibaldy


    several hundred fought on the republican side, including many socialist republicans, e.g. Paddy Mc Alister of Belfast who went on to become a member of The Workers’ Party (and who published an account of his time in Spain in the 1970s) and Mick O’Riordain, the chair of the Communist Party who recently died. You’ll find stuff about his life, death and funeral on indymedia if you’re interested.

  • dodrade

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but hadn’t the IRA’s campaign been ongoing for 18 months before the Black and tans arrived?

  • DK

    Garibaldy: Found a link for you for the numbers:

    Around 1,000 people from Ireland fought in Spanish Civil War. Figures suggest that 750 people joined the Blueshirts and 277 fought with the International Brigades.


    Not sure what the numbers from Northern Ireland are.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Very good site. Apologies for not getting the straight link.


    This is a brilliant site for records/stories of Irish volunteers.

  • Prince Eoghan


    Just showed up my crap computer skills.

  • Keith M

    I was hoping to interview Loach, but missed the opportunity as it clashed with my Eurovision work. I’m not a huge fan of Loach, his politics or his work, but he does have a great ability of make fiction look like fact. The film “Sweet Sixteen” is probably one of the best pieces of British cinema of the last ten years.

    I’ll reserve judgement on this film until I’ve seen it, but it has to be said that there was an especially poor selection in Cannes this year. Reports suggest that the new Almodovar film which was just shaded by TWTSTB is his poorest for many years.

  • andy

    I think you are right, Beever’s first book was about the Spanish Civil War. I think it was in ’76, fairly soon after Franco died. His latest work is meant to be a comprehensive re-working of the first work in the light of new evidence (in both Germany and Russia as well as Spain).

    TAFKABO: The quote about michael collins being Franco was made by the reviewer (Fiachra Gibbons) rather than Loach himself (see Guardian May 17). A bit contetious really, as I don’t think Collins was too interested in more “boring” mainstream political work. Although now that I think about it, Franco was fairly apolitical until late on.

  • Harry Flashman


    The Irish Left’s favourite Irish Republican, Frank Ryan, fought against Franco, but *cough* it’s best not to enquire too closely about where he ended up.

    A bit, er, shall we say embarassing for all concerned.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Harry Flashman.

    The enemy of my enemy is my freind and all that.

    The implications of your post damage the British much, much more than the IRA.

    Clue, HRH.

    Get that cough checked it seems to be catching.

  • Harry Flashman

    Er, Eoghan I’m not sure that the Prince of Wales who was deposed a year or two before the Second World War in a very British Coup ever found himself in a Nazi U-Boat.

    I could be mistaken however but I’m pretty much certain the Brits kicked his right Royal arse over to Bermuda and have never spoken of him in the reverential tones that Irish republicans have reserved for Ryan or for that matter Sean Russell, *cough, cough, splutter*, jaysus the oul’ throat’s playing havoc tonight so it is!

    Anyway so your enemy’s enemy is your friend, so the Nazis were your friends, you actually admit that do you?

  • Prince Eoghan

    When the English football team gave the Nazi salute(voluntarily) and the cream of the British establishment were hob-nobbing with their Nazi pals. Does that mean that they were representing the UK?

    This could get silly. The only thing they all had in common was that nobody in that era suspected just what the Nazi’s would eventually amount to.

    There my cough is fixed.

  • Harry Flashman

    Hey while we’re on the subject of the Spanish Civil War, here’s a thought or two that came to my head.

    You see there was this democratically elected government, in a country not terribly familiar with democracy. Anyway this democratically elected government was opposed by some pretty seriously vicious reactionaries. These reactionaries deeply hated the “foreign” and “godless” nature of this government. The reactionaries didn’t give a damn for ideas of democracy and instead accused the government of being stooges of a foreign power which was trying to impose it’s hateful egalitarian anti-religious dogma on a simple, religious, proud people.

    These reactionaries assisted by equally reactionary elements from other nasty totalitarian regimes fought a brutal struggle against the democratic forces and their foreign supporters. They used the most vicious means they could to destablise the democratically elected government, they appealed to co-religionists overseas to come to help them in their fight against the godless democrats and the struggle was the defining battle of the age.

    Even in the countries of the so-called democratic world the mainstream media was at best ambivalent and at worst downright hostile to the forces of democracy, many felt it would be better if the reactionaries won, incredible isn’t it?

    Well, enough about present day Iraq.

    I don’t know that much about the Spanish Civil War, do you think it has any relevance today.

  • Harry Flashman

    Nobody knew what the Nazis would do, eh? So what the feck did Frankie think of their bombing of Guernica?

    The England football team did not voluntarily do the Nazi salute, they were told to do so and many objected.

    But hey, a bunch of athletes being told by their manager to raise their arms, reluctantly, as a mark of respect to their hosts in time of peace and actually boarding a submarine to help the Nazis invade your own country in a time of war, jeez, just the same thing really, only different.

    By the way Eoghan do you still stand by your comment that as enemy of your enemy the Nazis were the friends of Irish republicans? Pretty remarkable if you do.

  • Prince Eoghan

    So because they bombed Guernica, (Hamburg, dresden anyone), this automatically led everyone to think the next logical step would be the final solution.

    Frank Ryan bought Shane Macgowan a whisky in a brothel in Madrid, and picked on someone like you who was cursing all the yids. If he is good enough to drink with Shane he is good enough for me. If only.

    I said this might become silly, it has now. I honestly can’t be bothered looking like a tit anymore by debating about this.

  • Harry

    But it was okay for Britain and Churchill to collaborate with the even greater mass muderer, Stalin, because the Brits are allowed to do things like that without too many questions being asked? Though the Paddies in contrast are required to get down on their knees and lick your blood-spattered british boots if they assert themselves?

    I think not. Fcuk off and play your mind games with those more susceptible to such simplistic and dishonest declarations.
    The Irish are not so credulous and weak-minded as to listen to brits attempting to take the moral high ground – over anything.

  • Garibaldy

    Harry F,

    I think I might have talked about Ryan here somewhere before, but I’m not sure, so apologies if I’m repeating myself. Firstly, let’s remember how Ryan ended up on that submarine. He went to Spain to fight fascism, was wounded, went home, and then went back again. I don’t think we can question his commitment to the fight against fascism while many others, as you eloquently pointed out above, were at the least sympathetic to it.

    Ryan had been captured, was very seriously ill, and was awaiting execution. What happened was that the Germans identified him as someone who might be useful, so they arranged to take possession of him, by means of breaking him out. The extent of collusion with the Falangists who held him remains unclear. What is clear is that it was done without Ryan’s knowledge.

    When presented with this fait accompli in Germany, what was he to do? He could have committed suicide I suppose. He met up with Russell, and decided to join with his mission. When Russell died on the u-boat, Ryan refused to go ashore with the body because he believed he would be blamed for Russell’s murder and shot by the elements of the IRA loyal to Russell. Back in Germany, he decided to try and minimise the dangers to Ireland from the war.

    In this context, I don’t think we can glibly condemn Ryan. My personal opinion is that he did the best he could under very trying circumstances. Others reach different conclusions. Although unlike many of his critics, he went and fought the anti-democratic reactionaries on behalf of democracy.

    While we’re on this point, and before someone raises IRA attitudes to Germany during the War, some did adopt the stance outlined by Prince Eoghan. But very many did not. The IRA and its constituency was deeply split during these years, and at one point had rival chiefs of staff. The fist fights in the Crumlin Road gaol among internees between those who adopted the enemey’s enemy stance and those who did not, many of whom supported the USSR. It’s impossible to speak simply of republican attitudes to Spain, the War, or to Russell.


    The film “Sweet Sixteen” is probably one of the best pieces of British cinema of the last ten years.

    Funnily enough, it’s probably the film of Loachs that I object to the most.
    Loach portrays a drug dealer in a such a sympathetic light that it’s difficult to think that Loach has any grasp of what heroin does to working class communities, and yet the hero of Loachs film is someone who does everything to prosper himself, even at the expense of screwing and destroying the lives of his fellow working class neighbours.

    Isn’t that called Thatcherism?

    Had the protagonist of the story had a different accent, but acted the same way he would have been a Loach villain.

    My Name is Joe is a much better story about the effects of addiction and drug abuse.



    Thanks for the clarification, I stand corrected over the Franco comment.

  • Harry Flashman


    Thanks for your nice reasoned and balanced response to my comments, tell me my friend where exactly are “my blood spattered British boots” that I require you to lick? I know I left them somewhere but for the life of me I can’t remember.

    I’m from Derry, wanker!


    A much more erudite and educated response, I read about Frank Ryan when I was a student many a year ago, I actually have a lot of sympathy with him but I still love winding up the Chucks every now and again, it’s always good for a laugh (cf Harry the clown above).

    By the Way

    No one want to respond to my Iraq/Spanish Civil War thesis? I thought someone might have something to say about the uncanny similarities.

  • Prince Eoghan


    Thank you as honest, to the point and eloquent as ever.

    Garabaldi, you have just saved me a read. Your info is wasted on yer man who is obviously out to annoy.

    Tafkabo. I never liked that film either. Unfortunately, drug dealers permeate the housing schemes of central Scotland in huge numbers. The ordinary people, that I know of anyhow, seem to tolerate them and talk of them as just another group of criminals. Whenever talk of this drug dealer, or that drug dealer erupts on occasion. I joke about grassing them in, much to the shock and horror of many of those around me. Really enjoyed my name is Joe however.

  • Harry

    Just as an aside and since the original thread on blogspot seems to have disappeared during the migration back to here, further to the thread “Finger-pointing or Problem Solving” about the difference (perceived or real) between loyalist sectarianism and nationalist violence, I came across this rather interesting diary of 2 weeks in the Short Strand during summer 2001:

    short strand violence.

    This seems very extreme and is basically low-level (and not so low-level) war. Who do people think is primarily responsible for this?
    I know of nowhere else in europe where this level of violence is to be found, not even in yugoslavia.

    [I know it’s not strictly germane to this thread but needs must, given the brief disjunction in changing back to the old slugger format.]

  • Garibaldy

    Harry F,

    Surely the key difference is that the Iraqi government has a highly questionable claim to democratic legitimacy. I also think that to say that government works on an egalitarian and anti-religious basis is also inaccurate, given the influence of Shia militants within it. Never mind the issue that the foreigners who supported the Spanish democratic government weren’t the forces of invading powers with mixed motives to say the least.

    Where I will agree with you is the danger of mixing religion and politics. I think there is an Iraqi nationalist resistance and a Sunni organisation(s), as well as the jihadists, who I suspect are a tiny minority.

    One other point of similarity with Spain has just occurred. The backing of fascists, be they Islamic or Catholic, by so-called democratic powers obsessed by anti-communism has had disastruous results for the people of the lands where that happened, and for the wider world. Fascists have used the experience gained in “fighting communism” and acceptance of so-called democracies to launch wider wars.

  • Garibaldy


    That is indeed a disgraceful catalogue of sectarian violence, and those involved are the lowest of the low. However, it is from five years ago, and can’t really be taken as ongoing or representative of recent times. I think that diary you found is missing the five people hit in Cluan Place by shots fired from the short strand, which I think happened that year. There is a mural about it there. From that diary, there seems to have been no violence from the short strand, so we can take it as slightly one-sided as that is clearly not the case.

    It’s not even close to what has happened and is happening in Yugoslavia, particularly to Serbs in Kosovo-Mitosjiack (can’t spell that bit properly) who are the main victims of ethnic violence there at this point. Such comparisons belittle what is going on there, to be honest. I don’t want to get into a debate about this, as I think we’ve talked about this before so I’ll make my position clear.

    All sectarian violence is wrong, no matter where it comes from, and a violation of the secular democratic philosophy of republicanism. That’s not a problem for unionists, but it is for those who claim to follow in Tone’s footsteps.

  • Harry

    Yes, I’m aware of the points made by loyalists about attacks upon them from short strand into cluan place, that’s precisely what I’m asking about. Does anyone have any more facts about this. I also know it’s from 5 years ago – i just came across it now and believe little has changed – again, I’m wondering about the details.

    I spoke about yugoslavia because whilst there is no doubt sectarian violence there I rarely hear it ever reach such a crescendo as outlined in that diary.

    As for your point “Such comparisons belittle what is going on there [yugoslavia], to be honest.” I am truly sick of people soft-peddling the reality of violence for nationalists. Northern ireland is a very violent place, even by yugoslav standards. Violent not by comparison with the yugoslav war, but in comparison to the uneasy peace which has followed it. If you read that diary carefully, on Wednesday 28th between 8.49pm and 10.46pm – less than 2 hours – there are 5 pipe bombs attacks, many petrol bomb attacks, fireworks, ballbearings, bricks and whatever. I’d like to see how cool you’d be in a small place with 5 bombs flying at you – would you be so inclined to say it has no relation to what people in war zones experience. The diary begins with a hand-grenade being thrown into the area for god’s sake.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “Actually Chris, the seeming desire to mention Hidden Agenda has misled you.”

    Ahhh, the return of Paranoid Pete. You know you can get medication for that condition, Baker boy…..

  • Pete Baker

    I’ll stick to being blunt, but civil, Chris.

    When an mistake in a post is pointed out, it’s not best practice to edit the original post to remove the error from view.

    Much better to simply acknowledge that error in an update to the original post.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “When an (sic) mistake in a post is pointed out, it’s not best practice to edit the original post to remove the error from view.”

    From the guardian of best practice?

    If we’re into constructive criticism, Pete, here’s one for you: Best practice would surely suggest that making posts a mile long, complete with so many links that the reader falls asleep before concluding his/her read of the post, is not really ‘best practice’ either…

    Now, can we kiss and make up???


    I think some handbags need decomissioned.

  • Keith M

    TAFKABO, I doubt we’ll ever go on a date (at least to the cinema, “My Name is Joe ” is one of the few films I’ve ever walked out of. I found it despressing and unsympathetic.

  • woofus mcdoggus

    Anyone read Ruth Dudley Backwards piece in the Daily (cheaper than bog roll) Mail today.

    A whole page and she doesnt actually say whats so wrong with the film – mind you she probably hasnt seen it – but a film from an Irish or republican perspective – feck we cant be having that!. And as far as I know from what I’ve read the film ISNT completely one sided.

    She writes that it distorts history. In other words, brings up things unpalatable to people who dont know that Churchill gased the Kurds.

    So Ruth why dont you educate the Daily Mail readers with a piece on the actual events of that period?.

    Tell them about how a bunch of foreigners burnt Irish towns and murdered whoever they liked.

    Tell em about the overwhelming support for union on this island.

    And they printed an old foto of you.

  • Garibaldy


    Have to agree RDE is a joke, and not a very clever one at that. Although, the last time I saw her she was kissing a member of PSF from Donegal. So the world is a strange place.

  • Pete Baker

    You’re right, Chris.

    I should have written –

    “When a factual error in a post is pointed out, it’s not best practice to edit the original post to remove the error from view.”

    It doesn’t reduce your credibility to do that, it enhances it.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Fair enough then Pete.

  • Sam

    Thank you for bringing the thread back on topic, God preserve us from the self-declared intelligentsia.

    [url=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=388256&in_page_id=1770&in_a_source=]Why does Ken Loach loathe his country so much?]Ruth Dudley Edwards is just another propagandist for British imperialism[/url] (Irish History Dept). She doesn’t need to see the film, its sufficient for her to know Loach is critical of British imperialism:

    [i]The Wind That Shakes The Barley — a pro-IRA film made in Ireland and partially funded by the National Lottery — the director Ken Loach explained that it was ‘a little step in the British confronting their imperialist history’.

    His purpose is to encourage direct comparisons between the Ireland of 1920-22 and present-day Iraq. This, of course, requires the portrayal of the British as sadists and the Irish as romantic, idealistic resistance fighters who take to violence only because there is no other self-respecting course…

    …In his version of history, British soldiers don’t have to get up their courage to enthusiastically shoot the innocent unarmed or pull out the fingernails of republicans with pliers.[/i]

    All she does is construct an anti Loach tirade, based on a misrepresentation of his past work, especially [i]Hidden Agenda[/i] through the eyes of a Daily Mail film critic, and the words of a Tory MP:

    [i]He made Hidden Agenda, his first film about Ireland, which built on a popular conspiracy theory that claimed wicked figures in the Establishment were secretly trying to destroy former Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.

    The plot involved the murder of a human rights lawyer, showed the Royal Ulster Constabulary as a ruthless and out-of-control militia, and, in the words of the Mail’s film critic, Christopher Tookey, ‘misrepresented the British Army in Ireland as the forces of darkness and the IRA as a cheery bunch of folk-singers, democrats and humanitarians’.

    In a memorable phrase, the then Tory MP Ivan Stanbrook described the movie as ‘the IRA entry at Cannes’.

    Fast-forward 16 years to today and we are presented yet again with a remarkably similar travesty of history in The Wind That Shakes The Barley.[/i]

    So Ruth has drawn her conclusions that this film is a travesty of history, without even seeing it, by reference to the politics and past work of the filmmaker and the reactions of Tory England. Loach’s fictional portrayal of the RUC as operating assassination policy and British collusion in Hidden Agenda has since been more than vindicated.

    The conclusion re-iterates her British imperialist ideology:
    [i]By use of what can only be described as a melange of half-truths, he hopes he can persuade British politicians to ‘confront’, and then apologise for, the Empire.

    It is too much to believe that any front-line politician will respond to such twisted logic by telling the truth. For the truth is that, as empires go, the British version was the most responsible and humane of all.

    With all its deficiencies, it brought much of value to most of the countries it occupied. Also, it all happened a long time ago and no one should be forced to apologise for it.[/i]

    All in all, it’s a defence of that empire in Ireland, of the British soldiers and their courage “to enthusiastically shoot the innocent unarmed or pull out the fingernails of republicans with pliers.”

    There will always be a job for Irish journalists willing to play that tune, the northern troubles brought a great wave of Irish apologists for British imperialism in Ireland and Iraq, both then and now. That about covers Ruth’s career as a journalist, which isn’t much compared to Ken Loach’s work and it’s impact.

    Loach could hardly produce such a melange of half-truths about the War of Independence and Civil War in Cork as Peter Hart’s travesty of history. The Wind That Shakes The Barley is at least labelled fiction, not pretending to be factual research like Hart.

  • Garibaldy

    RDE up to her usual tricks in that link you’ve provided Sam. To defend the British Empire is ridiculous. At the risk of being accused of playing the (wo)man and not the ball, frankly, she’s nuts, and it runs in the family.

  • Sam

    I’ve heard her become quite irrational when it was put to her that the northern state has produced a sick society.

    However, its only fair to put that down to her political condition, not her mental state (which seems to be Tory England anyway).

    As I recall, she was very keen on Peter Hart’s melange of half-truths posing as history. I don’t think she has any grounds to pre-judge Loach’s more account as untruthful, its fiction and he’s quite clear that his films are politically engaged.

  • Mick Fealty

    Gari, Sam and woofis,

    It is absolutely clear from the article, that even if Ms Dudley Edwards has seen the film in question, she is not writing about it. Not surprising since the UK/Ireland release date is in mid June.

    As Smiling Jim remarked about an earlier (entirely unrelated) contribution, the smell of grinding axes is overwhelming.

    Ruth is perfectly entitled to defend the British Empire, in the Daily Mail, on Slugger and anywhere else of her (or other’s) choosing. And her critics are perfectly entitled to try to knock the argument from under her feet.

    But not (as you rightly note Gari) by trying to take out the (wo)man rather than playing the ball.

    Play the game lads/lasses!

  • Garibaldy

    It’s perfectly valid to challenge Loach’s film from a political perspective bceause, as you say, he makes it clear they are political statements. The problem comes if he misrepresents aspects of history to make his points. I certainly feel he did this with Land and Freedom, though others disagree.

    As for Peter Hart, I’ve never accepted the general thrust of his argument that the IRA in Cork 1919-21 was primarily sectarian, nor his account of Kilmichael, both of which have come under great pressure of late. I also thought ‘The IRA and its Enemies’ was extremely one-sided in the sympathy it tried to evoke, personified in the desultory treatment of the burning of Cork. Nevertheless, much of his work is valuable, especially the sociological stuff. At the same time, I have no doubt that there were sectarian Volunteers in Cork at that time, and later, but his argument on that point is way beyond what the evidence can sustain.

    He clearly played the innocent historian in the book and in subsequent publications, while being much more controversial in person. So I agree he is disingenuous, and mistaken, and guilty it seems of bad historical practice to say the least.

  • Garibaldy

    Mick, I thought carefully about what I wrote, and nearly didn’t send it, but decided that given some of RDE’s arguments in her polemics what I wrote was just about within acceptable limits.

    She is of course entitled to defend the British Empire, (or to attack Loach on political grounds as I noted and have being doing myself) but it was the argument that I was referring to when I said it was ridiculous. Basically it runs that the British Empire was the best empire around and civilised the savages. Not a great consolation to those who were being exploited or who had their societies and cultures crushed.

  • Sam

    Well citing anonymous ‘interviews’ with people who had long been dead isn’t exactly standard historical method. Not to mention butchering his quotes from documentary sources to save an untenable thesis. Meda Ryan and others have buried Hart on those points.

    In light of that, his ‘sociological’ body-counts etc can’t really be taken at face value.

    It was waived through by the standards of academic historians of Ireland. His supervisors really should be questioned if he has refused for years to authenticate his sources. Still, it was warmly recommended by the most prominent of that profession, and now prescribed for their undergraduate students.

    Any it time this chapter of history is raised, some innocent victim of Irish academia will recite Hart’s fabricated history.

    I was clear that RDE’s politics were the issue, not her mental state. Please address it to Gari, unless either woofus or I wrote something we weren’t perfectly entitled to.

    Why so sensitive to criticism of a academic-based, media-commentator? Especially one whose article here is dedicated to going for the man throughout, and to slating his film without any indication of having seen it.

    She states her conclusion that the new film is “a travesty of history”. I can’t see any basis for that judgement, can you?

  • Garibaldy


    I seriously doubt Hart made those interviews up.
    So either Meda Ryan’s list of participants is wrong, or somebody lied to Hart, who pretended to be there who wasn’t. Obviously we can’t check if he won’t name names. I understand why he won’t give names when he promised confidentiality, so he should ask the families for permission to do so as it is them who will have to deal with the consequences. All historians chose documents to support their case, but what he has done with the Bandon report is unacceptable.

    It’s not so much the body counts, as the social profile of those involved in the IRA I’m talking about. They remain useful, and worthy of debate, as do his arguments about youth, frustrated emigration etc and their role in this period.
    Such topics are being copied by other researchers, and can only help build a clearer picture of the period.

  • Sam

    What doubt can there be, it wasn’t just a single case where dates made it impossible. Several of Hart’s ‘anonymous’ Kilmichael sources can be identified from his own notes and biographies within the work.

    They were dead on the dates he claims he interviewed them.

    Meda Ryan has published her lists of participants and it remains unchallenged, not least by Peter Hart. It is for all intents and purposes definitive.

    Hart should be able to provide his own list of named participants at Kilmichael. A proper historian who had researched and written on the subject should be able to do that (unless it would expose those anonymous interviews as impossible).

    The notion of ‘confidentiality’ agreements is for the fairies, not proper historians. If he can’t or won’t authenticate his sources, then shouldn’t his supervisors and or publishers say if or how they authenticated them?

    He comes back from his little research excursion with interviews only he knows about, only he has heard, when everyone else knows the participants were already dead?

    Why not re-write WWII based on some old Hitler diaries? (Weren’t they authenticated by an eminent academic historian?)

    On the Bandon Report, he selected a source which as a whole undermined his thesis, but carefully selected partial fragments to misrepresent the documentary evidence. That’s manufacturing propaganda (to be used on undergrads), not historical research.

    If you really think its unacceptable, I don’t see how you can trust or value his cod-Sociology.

  • Doctor Who

    “A whole page and she doesnt actually say whats so wrong with the film – mind you she probably hasnt seen it – but a film from an Irish or republican perspective – feck we cant be having that!. And as far as I know from what I’ve read the film ISNT completely one sided.”

    “the wind that shakes…..”
    Hidden Agenda”
    “some mothers [removed] son”
    “generation man ”
    “blown away”
    “michael Collins”
    “In the name of the Father”

    Woofus can you name one film on ireland, told from either a neutral opr Unionist perspective.

    Why not step outside your pathetic irish republican vacum and see the wider world.

  • Mick Fealty

    I wasn’t trying to get heavy or stifle debate, just reminding people that the best discussions come out of addressing text rather than dismissal of the person writing or speaking.

  • Garibaldy


    contemporary historians, particularly in Ireland, rely on confidentiality all the time. It’s an accepted part of historical practice, otherwise things like histories of terrorist groups in NI would never be written. It also leaves the historian at the mercy of his interviewer, particularly if there is no-one else alive from the time who might have knowledge of the event.

    There is a big difference between the Bandon/Kilmichael stuff, and the other points in the book, which are much more verifiable, and clearly done according to good practice. As with any historian, you pick the good bits from the bad, and the debate leaves some parts of the argument in place.


    I know you weren’t trying to stifle debate. Although I found the grinding axes remark somewhat entertaining given that everyone on this site comes on to ride their hobby horses.

  • andy

    Doctor Who,
    Well, Patriot Games tends to stick out as being pretty negative
    Blown away’s villain was a mad Irish bomber.
    Michael Collins was assasinated by the IRA. I would have described as pro Southern Irish establishment rather than pro-Irish republican. Didn’t see too much of Collins forces tying people to land mines etc did you?

    I would have also thought the vast majority of TV portrayals (both UK and US) have been very negative on Irish Republicanism.

    I appreciate your literal point though – very few fims / TV shows display the unionist position at all, let alone favourably.

  • andy

    typo – I meant the film was pro “southern Irish establishment” ..

  • DK

    “The crying game” is fairly anti-IRA
    “Divorcing Jack” is also anti-IRA

    But neither mention unionists (although Divorcing Jack has loyalists portrayed as stupid neanderthals)

  • “the smell of grinding axes”

    Yer geting sensory depravation from riding herd on these tossers, Bubba Mick.

    Get some sleep, RDE and the Spanish Civil War will still be there in the morning.


    Woofus can you name one film on ireland, told from either a neutral opr Unionist perspective.

    From memory I can only think of December Bride, and that stays clear of politics.

    Pretty decent film though, I’m hoping for a DVD release.

  • Harry

    The Billy Plays.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Maybe the good Doctor (or someone else) could suggest some reasons why there have been no films from a Unionist perspective?

  • Harry

    Possibly for the same reasons that BBC have never commissioned a drama about the Bengal Famine.

  • “Maybe the good Doctor (or someone else) could suggest some reasons why there have been no films from a Unionist perspective?”

    Market forces.

    No businessman will greenlight a project that only serves an obscure demographic north of the dreary steeples.

  • Prince Eoghan

    I know how about this for a title of any future film from a Unionist perspective.


    Pretty lame I know, I’m sure others could do better.

  • Holly

    There is info on a debate with Peter Hart on the Irish Times letters page on: