Belfast Telegraph

Film counters Bobby Sands docu-drama with the stories of 57 killed during the hunger strike

By David Young, PA

Relatives of IRA murder victims have gathered to watch a film produced to counter the portrayal of the republican hunger strikes in a new documentary-style movie.

Entitled 'Remembering Those who had No Choice', it has been created by a victims' group in direct response to the recently-premiered 66 Days. The film about the Maze prison hunger strikes of 1981, based on Bobby Sands' diaries, has divided opinion in Northern Ireland.

Critics have branded the docu-drama, by Irish director Brendan Byrne, overly sympathetic to Sands and his cause, while others have acclaimed it for offering a balanced view of the turbulent period of The Troubles.

The South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), a victims' group in the west of the region, has produced its own film telling the stories of the 57 other people, including a number of children, killed in the conflict during the 217-day period when the 10 republican hunger strikers died.

Valerie Hetherington, whose father Alfie Woods was an RUC officer murdered by the IRA in Omagh in August 1981, attended the film premiere in Enniskillen.

"Our family felt it important to be present tonight where our dad and all the other innocents who had no choice are being remembered," she said.

"My dad was a hard-working family man who was committed to doing his best for us and the community which he served. My dad was murdered within days of a hunger striker's death.

"We have little doubt as a family that the volatile situation created by that hunger strike meant it more likely that our father could come under attack and ultimately be murdered.

"It is important that we as innocent victims and survivors of terrorism come together in unifying against attempts to re-write the past. Terrorists and their political spokesmen and women will not succeed - the truth must and will prevail."

Kenny Donaldson, director of services at SEFF, said the film offered a "dignified" response to 66 Days. "It is important to remember, but also honour, all those whose lives were extinguished outside the Maze prison walls over one of the most turbulent periods in our history," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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