Belfast Telegraph

UK's broadcasters 'snubbing my film on paramilitary justice'

By David Young

An award-winning filmmaker says she cannot get her documentary about republican paramilitary shootings of teenagers screened in the UK.

Sinead O'Shea's documentary A Mother Brings Her Son To Be Shot gets its international premiere at a film festival in Copenhagen this weekend.

The Danish screening comes amid reports of an increase in so-called punishment shootings by dissidents.

The documentary, described by the British Film Institute as "unflinching", looks at the experience of Majella O'Donnell and her family in Londonderry.

Writing in The Guardian this week, O'Shea said: "Punishment shootings facilitated by family members is a phenomenon with which I, as a documentary filmmaker, am very familiar.

"In 2012 I began talking to the O'Donnell family in Derry.

"Earlier that year Majella O'Donnell had taken her teenage son Philly to be shot by local gunmen.

"Majella, her son and his shooters are all part of a community that considers itself to be still at war.

"They are republican dissidents and do not feel represented by the republicans who signed up to the Good Friday Agreement on their behalf.

"I have made films all over the world, but on my doorstep found a story that was more compelling than anything I'd ever previously encountered."

But she revealed that the 84-minute documentary has yet to be accepted by a UK broadcaster.

"The international interest is in disappointing contrast with the UK," she added.

"The documentary premiered at the London Film Festival last year, but as yet no UK broadcaster has committed to screening it, despite mounting concerns that Brexit could reawaken old divisions."

She put this down to a general lack of interest by the British public in our issues.

"The UK bears grave responsibility for what is happening in Northern Ireland," she said.

"It must govern all the people there, even those who remain unreconstructed and inconvenient."

Earlier this week PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton revealed that parents of young people about to be shot by paramilitaries were plying them with alcohol or powerful painkillers before taking them to their "appointments" with the gunmen.

Belfast Telegraph

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