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No Real Winners

The beauty of creating a piece of complete fiction, especially in the film industry, is that the director has the freedom to create a story without limitations. The characters, the events, and the way the story unfolds is in the hands of those who envisioned the work.

On the other end, when a film is based on an actual event of historical proportions, the intense scrutiny a filmmaker faces leaves little margin for error. In the film “Bloody Sunday,” director Paul Greengrass uses documentary-style storytelling to invite audiences into the 1972 tragedy, while delivering the events in an utterly real yet fair assessment of the still unsettled controversy.

Because the term “documentary” is reserved for a body of work that incorporates footage and interviews of the actual event and people involved, the film “Bloody Sunday” is masterfully crafted to appear not as a piece of Hollywood fiction, but as a documentary itself. One critic wrote: “by setting up this style early on, we get the real feeling of chaos, uncertainly, horror and dizziness that would most-likely accompany the experience of living through that horrific day” (

While Ivan Cooper is trying to calm the “hooligans” who have broken off from the peaceful march, his raw emotions of panic and desperation hit the screen from many different camera angles, leaving the audience feelings as if they are in the middle of the crowd, rubbing shoulders with Cooper as he pleads with the men to abandon their misguided strategy.

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Irish Conflicts: IRA, UDA, and UFF

Irish Conflicts: The IRA, UDA, and UFF

Midterm Questions
Question 1: This Irish Republican Army was supported by what political party?
a. An Phoblacht
b. The Ulster Democratic Party
c. The Progressive Unionist Party
d. Sinn Fein. (Correct Answer)

Question 2: How was the media of Northern Ireland affected during “The Troubles”?
a. News outlets remained objective in their approach.
b. Most news organizations sided with the British, for fear of persecution.
c. Split along partisan lines, media were nearly always associated with a particular party. (Correct      Answer)
d. The Ulster Defense Association and the Ulster Freedom Fighters received media popularity in            Southern Ireland.
Question 3: What were the two mains reasons for conflict between the Irish Catholics and English Protestants?

a. Differences in Religious beliefs
b. Treatment of Catholics by Protestants in 1700-1900’s
c. Irelands desire for independence from Britian
d. Both a. and b. (Correct Answer)

e. Both b. and c.

Question 4: Sinn Fein found its voice through what news organization?
a. Irish News
b. The News Letter
c. An Phoblacht/Republican News (Correct Answer)
d. Belfast Telegraph

Question 5: Which of the following was NOT a major component of the Treaty of Belfast (a.k.a. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998)
a. Immediate disarmament of paramilitary groups (Correct Answer)
b. The establishment of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
c. The reformation of the police force
d. The commitment by all paramilitary groups to approach political issues through “peaceful and democratic means.”

Main Points


  • British immigrants and colonialists bought and confiscated land which determined political representation.
  • By 1913 both Unionists and Nationalists had formed paramilitary groups to oppose each others’ political aspirations – the Ulster and Irish Volunteers.

Key Players and Political Parties

  • On the Republican side, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was backed by the Sinn Fein political party
  • On the Loyalist side, the Ulster Defense Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) were backed by the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP).

The Troubles

  • Period of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland. Lasted from 1966 to 1998. Ended with the Treaty of Belfast

Media Coverage

  • Sinn Fein utilizes An Phoblacht (The Republic) as voice for political ideologies in the Republic of Ireland. The publication’s sister organization, Republican News, was widely circulated in Northern Ireland.
  • British government bans the IRA from broadcasts (1988-1994).
  • Paramilitaries attempt to use major publications, such as Irish News, for political agenda.
  • Highly partisan and fractured coverage with massive numbers of newletters, newspapers, and tabloids around.

The Belfast Agreement

  • 1998. Main Provisions: “Establishment of the commitment by all parties to use exclusively peaceful and democratic means.”
  • May 2000 = tentative disarmament date. Not achieved due to vague wording of the agreement, but a number of groups did disarm around that date.

Current Issues

  • Two British soldiers killed in March 2009
    • The Real IRA claimed credit for the attack
    • Sinn Fein denounces attack, calling it “counter-productive”
  • Feb 6, 2010: Irish National Libertarian Army announces it has disarmed
    • Law allowing paramilitary groups to hand over weapons without prosecution expired Feb. 9




3. Ireland’s History in Maps

4. Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure of Ireland

5. Kilkenny County Library Service

6. Alan F. Parkinson. Belfast’s UnHoly War

7. Robert Lynch. Northern Ireland and the Early Years of Partition

9. Barnett, Brooke, and Amy Reynolds. Terrorism and the Press: An Uneasy Relationship. 1. New         York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2009. Print.
10. Tim Cooke, “Paramilitaries and the Press in Northern Ireland,” in Pippa Norris, Montague Kern,     and Marion Just, eds. Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government, and the Public (New     York: Routledge, 2003), 75-90.


13. Link to the Belfast Agreement:

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.