The Belfast Story–A Review by Primo.

The Belfast Story.


The main problem with watching and reviewing a film like the Belfast Story is me. As an ex combatant,  ex prisoner and Belfast born I was intrigued to watch this. I had no idea of what the film was about as my better half wanted to go and see it. I quickly realised that this was entertainment and made no pretence at being historical or factual. There was however an interesting moral underlying the whole film. More of that later.

At first I thought it was confused, disjointed and muddled. It does take time for the plot to come together and the pieces fall into place. As a loyalist ex prisoner it was with some shock that I realised that the First Minster was a Shinner. Shades of Gerry, except he’s gone south. It is interesting as a Belfaster to spot the streets and scenes used in the film. The story picks up with the slaughter of old and retried IRA combatants. As the film progresses I think of Dirty Harry meeting Star Chamber (with a bit of Seven thrown in). Maybe even shades of Bronson sorting out the bad boys. Ex justice people evening up old scores with a bit of violent retaliation. The killings are too slick and well organised to be loyalist so it has to be the army or the police. Note to film makers- portrayal of scenes without any witnesses or passers-by are very far from reality.  I did not think that the new political make up of N. Ireland was clear until too late in the film. The police are too flat and unrealistic in this film. The main man Detective played by Colin Meaney  is a good enough character but why bring in old school RUC to investigate IRA men getting bumped off? As I said above the film is entertainment and a bit of ‘what if..’  The film is not centred primarily on  combatants but rather victims. Victims who stand up in an extreme way which Is not unlike the female victim portrayed in Lynch’s Menin gate. Victims, ex combatants, the legacy. It’s a unresolved minefield and a difficult subject to tackle so some credit to Mr Todd for trying.

I felt the underlying message was around morality and the never ending question of right and wrong. Were the executed rebels in 1916 right or wrong in their initial actions? If political events and people voting dictate what is right then they surely had the moral authority to oust what they seen as an invading force – the British.  But politics, like morality, is never simple.  This story is different in that, it is not the old British vs Irish thing or nationalist vs unionist. The twist comes late on and changes the whole dynamic of the story.  (It comes at an appropriate time when ‘Slab’ is about to get some block therapy.) The people eliminating the old IRA activists are ordinary Catholics who have suffered under the PIRA organisation while the Shinners took the moral high ground as they fought the British. So an unusual victim slant, and one as far as I know, has not been covered before, in this way. I wonder what the American audience will make of this?

The film revolves, for me, around one of the last lines of dialogue in the film when one of the killers is explaining his rationale to the detective in a letter. He feels he would rather go and kill the killers, the terrorists,  rather than let his son think that it’s OK to kill and maim–and then walk around as if nothing bad happened.  However,  we are back to the basic ‘eye for an eye’ argument. And if the IRA violence was wrong and nasty, why are the new killers doing it?  Is straight revenge ever justified? Is that not a bad example for ones children? If something is wrong then it is wrong. And there’s the rub. Morality is not absolute. Applying in all cases, at all times and situations. It doesn’t. Morality is fluid in the real world.  In N. Ireland.  In all conflicts. There is no better example today than that of Syria. Killing people by nerve gas including children is reprehensible. But America and the UK would not do one thing about it because Russia stands behind Syria. More like realism than idealism.  The real shocker for unionists comes right at the end. There is a United Ireland. Children play together and we all live happy ever after.  I love happy endings.





13 Responses to The Belfast Story–A Review by Primo.

  1. Morality has to be absolute with regard to the treatment of genuinely innocent people, by all sides in a conflict situation. Any cause that views the indiscriminate slaughter of genuinely innocent people, as justifiable collateral damage, is at best, no better than the evil oppression that it originally and possibly even justifiably sets out to eliminate.
    With regard to Syria, it is clearly a civil war between an oppressive dictatorial Government, and an equally evil assorted collection of Islamic terrorist groups, who if successful, would probably be even more dictatorial and oppressive, than the existing Government.
    Faced with this situation, I believe that the West was right not to interfere. In this situation the only morally correct course of action is to provide as much humanitarian aid as possible, for the genuinely innocent victims of the conflict.

  2. Hi Charlie,
    Thank you for your comments but a quick look at morality throws up a few uncomfortable truths. It used to be morally OK to have sex with minors in the Roman Empire. Their norm, in their time. It used to be morally OK to send young children up chimneys to clean them. It was morally accepted that women could not read, write, vote or have a say in politics many years ago. It was morally OK to use Eric von Brauns rocket experience after Nazi Germany fell. The Americans after World War 2 also used Japanese experts who tortured many people to death in horrible experiments. The British felt it was OK to give back white Russians to Stalin after the end of the war. They were killed to a man, woman and child. It is morally accepted in some present day countries that a person can accept blood money if a relative is killed. Our moral base has changed as society has changed over the centuries. The Dutch people have debated over reducing the age for consensual sex? And morals continue to change as society, knowledge and ideas change over time. But I do agree, genuinely innocent people should not be targets. Which raises the question; what about the innocents who are not genuine?

    • Sorry Primo, but you are now starting to drift off into the nit picking, hair splitting, whataboutery world of meaningless academia.
      Ulster Volunteers who have pledged allegiance to God and Ulster, have a moral duty to adhere to the moral standards laid out by God and Ulster.

  3. Hi primo, I understand what you mean about peoples/societies moral compass changing with times. I don’t understand ‘innocents who are not genuine’..

    I can’t buy into to this God and Ulster line. Probably down to I’m not sure God as he is depicted actually exists. And if you took time to read the bible their are refernces to several gods and we were made in their likeness.. and as for Ulster, do mean the whole nine counties or the six county state? If you mean the nine county province, I reckon 51+% would argue the Ulster Voluteers didn’t do anything in their name or to advance their lives..

  4. First of all Frankie?????? This is an ex-UVF, RHC, prisoners site, so your warped little republican opinions, are of absolutely no interest to anyone here. So just crawl back into the the slimy little atheist hole that, you crawled out of and take your grubby little atheist’s selective, anti-Christian version of the Bible with you.
    As for the other 3 counties of Ulster, if the Ulster Volunteers in 1921 had used the same low moral standards to ethnically cleanse the 6 Counties, as was used by the godless sectarian republicans of the south to ethnically cleanse the lost 3 Counties of Ulster, the conflict would have ended for good in 1921.

  5. here


    Take a seat and relax. learn how chill, its the weekend, not a Monday morning. I am aware this a UVF-RHC website. I’ve been reading it from almost day 1. There used to be a poster called Stephen Ferguson who is from the PUL side of the oxymornons (you call them peace lines)..Anyhow Stephen used to post on the Pensive Quill and he offered a hand of friendship and said anyone can post here. This isn’t the first time I have posted here. I’ve posted once or twice before. But I read it several times a week. And have found the prision stories intresting..Oddly enough i’ve read articles printed here before they appear on the TPQ and vice versa…And as for John Coulter,..he more often shoots himself in foot more often than not. In fact if you took time to read his articles (generally found in the Irish Daily Star, apart from the odd pieces he pens for blogs..), you could very easy interchange the words Republican to Loyalist and Catholic to Protestant and it would be hard to tell the differnce.

    Genesis 1:26

    26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

    Sounds like more than one god to me. All versions of the bible are worded more or less the same. In fact if you actually took the time to read the 72 books that make up the bible you’ll find lots of references to Gods not just God. You’ll also find references to UFO’s..I wont spoil the plot. Actually it’s not a bad work of fiction.

    As for my warped little republican opinions....A few days ago poster from the PUL side of fence thought I was a republican too.. I replied to him…
    You don’t have to apologise to me. Growing up in Ardoyne during the troubles, I never classed myself as anything else other than a Belfast Rock-a-Billy. I knew Punks who were excatly that, Punks. Not loyalist, catholic, republican or protestant. We were more intrested in going to Kens record store in Smithfied and seeing what records came in, than pay attention to what SF or other were saying . But we were Irish.

    Scroll down the page until you start to see in the comments section, a civil converstaion I had with a poster called Wolfsbane. ..Simply click here. It’ll probably take about 20/30 mins out of your life..

    As for the other 3 counties of Ulster, if the Ulster Volunteers in 1921 had used the same low moral standards to ethnically cleanse the 6 Counties, as was used by the godless sectarian republicans of the south to ethnically cleanse the lost 3 Counties of Ulster, the conflict would have ended for good in 1921.

    These godless sectarian republicans you talk about worshiped the same god you believe in. Muslims believe in the same God too (but they call him Allah…), Jews too. I think the ancient Greeks called him Zeus. And you are aware that Jesus (if he actually existed) was only voted the son of God close to 325AD in the council of Nicea…

    As for the argument you are aren’t making very well about the Ulster Vols. they used the same raision d’etre..I’m not going to deny the heroic part they played in WW1. But if you honestly believe they didn’t carry out sectarian attacks on a par with republicans since they were formed, then you seriously need a reality check.

    While I still have your attention Charles can you answer one very simply Q concerning the nonsense at Twaddel…

    ‘What is wrong with GARC’s proposal and make the Crumlin Road a parade free zone for everyone? Why can’t or wont the Orange Order simply walk down to the Woodvale Road/Ballgomartin Road jct, walk across Woodvale park, back on to the Ballygomartin Road continue to Forth River Road (which runs parallel to the Crumlin Road) and exit at Fourth River Drive…They’ll end up at Ballysillian Presby Chruch.

    Just think the money that could be saved year in, year out, and re-directed towards both communities to give them a better standard of living.

  6. Charles,

    If warped little republcan opinions are of no interest to anyone here, then why does Compound carry pieces penned by Anthony McIntrye or why did Compound carry a piece by Ed Moloney about Martin McGuinnness? He at least found them interesting enough to reproduce here.

    I take unboard PUL-ers want to remain part of Britain Charles. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Can’t be for money. Maybe you want to a ‘subject of the Queen’. That would make you at least a 2nd class citizen. Personally I don’t agree with class systems. I take people for what they are simply humans and i treat them with respect.

    Whats the difference Charles between some OAP on the Shankill Road not having a pot to piss in with an OAP on the Falls road not having a pot to piss in? Or a single parent In Ardoyne going without to feed her kids and the same happening Silverstream?

    Charles why don’t you like the CRN population for? is it because of their brand of socialism, their flavour of christianity….Or do you just hate all things Irish catholic?

  7. Just another shovel full of totally irrelevant longwinded claptrap Frankie, go back to where you belong with all the rest of the sad chattering class’s. This site is for ex UVF, RHC, Prisoners, who where sincerely prepared, rightly or wrongly to put their lives and their freedom where their mouths where. Our morals and beliefs are not up for discussion by totally empty, irrelevant, longwinded mouthpieces like yourself.

  8. Charlie,

    What is wrong with a “wee taig’ simply trying to understand what happened between 1968-1998. I’m not arguing the rights or wrongs about republican, loyalist or state force violence. I understand what both David Ervine and also what Brendan Hughes said. I can understand that the PIRA and the UVF saw themselves as soldiers
    I don’t understand why you are proud to be British.

    In an article here David Nicholl argues the leadership of the PRM should be hauled in front of a Nuremberg type whatever. What good is that going to do except fuel more contempt? Why isn’t there a real T&R process.

    I believed with the signing of the GFA meant an amnesty for all combatants. I now know there was but only for a select few.

    I also believe the genesis for a real T&R process or at least a better understanding of the troubles lies in the Boston College tapes.

    I’m not stopping loyalists remembering their/your comrades. I’m not interested in what god you believe in either.

    I am trying to understand why do you want to be part of something (being British) when we both know they’ll bend either of us over any table and make us both take one for Ulster even if we object…

  9. Charlie,

    Two links didn’t work..

    What is wrong with a “wee taig’ simply trying to understand what happened between 1968-1998. I’m not arguing the rights or wrongs about republican, loyalist or state force violence. I understand what both David Ervine and also what Brendan Hughes said. I can understand that the PIRA and the UVF saw themselves as soldiers

  10. Frankie for the last time, I have absolutely no interest in taking part in one of the endless meaningless talking shops where you and all the other sad, longwinded empty vessels of Northern Ireland like to waste your lives. To be kind to you, I will just say that you have obviously been less than honest in your claims of being a regular reader of this site, otherwise, you would have already been well aware of the answers to the mundane questions , which seem to be bothering you so much with regard to myself. Try spending an hour with your head and your computer out of your backside, scroll back through this site and all will be revealed, by the way prepare to be shocked.

  11. Try spending an hour with your head and your computer out of your backside, scroll back through this site and all will be revealed, by the way prepare to be shocked .

    Shocked about what Charlie..,? The difference between McGurks, Shankill Road and Omagh bombings..?

  12. Good bye Frankie, remember those who do not have the courage to put their name to what they write, have absolutely nothing creditable to say.