The Ballymurphy Precedent: film premieres in Washington

Posted By: June 11, 2019



                                                                          Distinguished film director Callum Macrae and Fr. Sean Mc Manus
CAPITOL HILL. Monday, June 10, 2019— A packed cinema in Washington DC watched the film The Ballymurphy Precedent on Monday evening.
The film, sponsored by the Pulitzer Center— and strongly promoted by the Irish National Caucus—is about the  Ballymurphy Massacre, when the British Parachute Regiment slaughtered 11 innocent civilians, including a mother of eight and the local Catholic priest, over a 3-day period in Belfast in August 1971. It was  just six months before the same murderous Regiment slaughtered 13 unarmed civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday— hence the word “ precedent.” It was a brutal, calculated act of State-terrorism, sadly setting the course for the next 30 years.
The film and its director, Callum Macrae, have been critically acclaimed in both Ireland and Britain. Total Film describes it as: ‘An astonishing documentary ….urgent, angry and moral, this is top tier film-making.’  The Guardian calls it ‘Impressive..shocking….a desperately sad film’. 
Fr. Sean McManus—president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus (pictured with director Macrae)— said: “It is an extraordinary film; powerful, moving and beautiful —agonizingly beautiful. Not only beautifully filmed and narrated, but beautifully revealing the dignity, courage, and grace of the innocent victims’ families: their heroic determination to find and reveal the truth, without hatred or vengeance.
Director Macrae is a gifted artist, a seeker, and revealer of truth, and a most impressive Scotsman. He also captured the essence of the problem in Northern Ireland: state-sponsored racism, state-sponsored sectarianism, and inevitably the enforcement of those twin evils by brute military violence, as in the Ballymurphy Massacre. If Americans do not understand that England has —Wales and Scotland can hardly be blamed— sponsored racism and sectarianism in Ireland, they do not understand either British or Irish history. A few might think naming these evils is ‘ counterproductive to progress,’ but the Irish National Caucus has long believed that we must speak truth to power, and help all victims find the truth—including my heroic friend, Belfast Protestant victims’ campaigner, Raymond McCord. My friend Ciaran MacAirt on Sunday organized a march of several thousand in Belfast, demanding truth for all victims. This is the way forward: demanding and speaking truth, which is not ‘ counterproductive to progress’ but the very foundation of progress, as those of us long involved in the struggle know. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told us, the Beloved Community cannot be built on lies, injustice, and cover-up. And Pope John Paul II reminds us that peace is the fruit of solidarity.
Fr. Mc Manus has had a long association with the Ballymurphy families. On Wednesday, March 16, 2011, he arranged for the Ballymurphy Massacre Committee to testify at a Congressional Hearing before the  U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (The Helsinki Commission). He has promoted their cause throughout the U.S. Congress and in his Memoirs: My American Struggle for Justice in Northern Ireland.