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Watch rare footage of Winston Churchill's visit to Belfast in 1912 to argue in favour of Home Rule

By Paul Carson

Published 10/07/2015

Rare and never before seen films of people, places and politics from across the Northern Ireland can now be viewed at the click of a mouse button.

The BFI's Britain on Film project went live this week, putting online thousands of archive films, cine footage and TV programmes shot around Britain and Northern Ireland and dating back to 1895.

Among these clips were various scenes of the notorious visit, in which the First Lord of The Admiralty, Winston Churchill, was sent to Belfast to argue in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, but was met with a great deal of resistance from Unionists.

He was due to speak in the Ulster Hall, but squatting Unionist protestors forced him to deliver his speech to Nationalists in Celtic Park.

Churchill shared the platform with John Redmond and Joe Devlin as he assured a cheering crowd that a Home Rule Bill was imminent. He set forth a vision of Home Rule fixed firmly within the empire; indeed, he argued, the Irish were ‘by character and tradition attached to monarchical institutions’.

The film also features Lord Pirrie, Chairman of Belfast shipbuilders Harland & Wolff and Churchill's wife Clementine, who was at the centre of one of the day’s most dramatic incidents.

After lunch at a Belfast hotel, Churchill was getting into his car, ready to make his way to his next engagement. He was spotted by some shipyard workers who set upon the car and were intent on trying to tip it over when they noticed that Clementine Churchill was in the vehicle.

Upon seeing her, the cry went up, ‘mind the wumman’. The shipyard workers then refrained from putting the car onto its roof.

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