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Understanding Northern Ireland

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A documentary series in ten parts of twenty minutes duration providing an analysis of the origins and development of Northern Ireland's religious and political differences.

Review by Griffin Gilbert:

Any program with the title "Understanding Northern Ireland" indicates a dangerous and very brave undertaking. To even try and explain one of the most complex political situations in the world is difficult at best, but this series does a superb job of documenting the origins and manifestations of the problems. Well narrated by Denys Hawthorne, the series uses archive footage, from 1912 to present, to explain the dilemma.
Much of the footage from the early half of the century is very rare and chilling to watch;
footage from more recent sources is blunt in its presentation, and tragic.

The series, edited for Channel Four Schools, packs in a wealth of information, including the country's history and its relations to the rest of the world.

It shows how both World Wars affected the situation and details all the players involved, minor and major.

Incidents that had significant repercussions are highlighted, such as the army's killing of 13 unarmed demonstrators in 1972, which sparked a spate of violence from the illegal terrorist organisation, the Irish Republican Army.

The series recounts the rise and fall of the Ulster Independent Government and the creation of both illegal military organisations in Northern Ireland: the IRA and its Protestant counterpart the UDA.

The narration, written by Jonathon Bardon, adheres to facts, allowing viewers to decide who the good and bad guys are.

It demonstrates that there was more than one guilty party involved and that extremists on both sides were responsible.

Andrew Parker and Richard Jolly's editing is first-class, and John Anderson's music is minimal - no music is required to dramatise some of this footage.

The series shows that despite its history of problems, Northern Ireland is a country where people want to live peacefully, and are trying to get on with their lives.


01: A Violent Birth
02: The Protestant North
03: Divided in War and Peace
04: Reform and Reaction
05: Civil Rights to Civil Strife
06: Direct Rule
07: The Anglo-Irish Agreement
08: The Problem Unresolved
09: The Downing Street Declaration
10: A Lasting Peace

Number of files: 10
Run time: 3 hours, 20 minutes (10 x 20 minutes)
Video codec: xvid, 988 kbps, 624x352, 16:9, PAL, 25 fps
Audio codec: mp3, 128 kbps, 48 kHz, stereo, cbr
Source: TV (PAL, 16:9)
Air date: 1997