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New hunger strike film does not tell full story

Published 17/08/2016

I probably won't watch 66 Days, the latest film dramatising the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland. I found the last film about Bobby Sands, Hunger, deeply depressing and suffocating.

That young people should want to starve themselves to death because of an ideology raises the question of how our society allowed some of its leaders to wield such terrible influence in the first place.

Our aspiration for young people should always be that they live for the future, rather than die, or take other lives for a political cause.

The period 66 Days examines had many consequences and I don't know whether it explores properly the impact on the hunger strikers' families. All of those families became deeply divided, as some felt that their loved ones should die for the cause, while others challenged that position.

We also hear little about how many others took their own lives, often privately, on their own and, unlike the hunger strikers, with no opportunity for intervention.

There are no movies about the young boy who recovered enough from a "punishment" beating to climb to the top of a tower and hang himself. No one sings songs, or holds parades, for the loyalist gunman who couldn't live with his deeds and set himself alight, or the republican paramilitary who drank himself to death.

Debate will continue to rage about the hunger strikes and their portrayal in books and films. As we look to the future, the main thing is that we challenge the deeply flawed ideologies that led to unnecessary conflict in our society.


Holywood, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph

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