Upstanding – I’ll be Discussing a Film about Courage during the Troubles at the Festival of Ideas and Politics

imagineImagine, Belfast’s Festival of Ideas and Politics (14-20 March), is back for a second year with a range of events to get people thinking and talking.

I’m excited to be taking part in an event, ‘The Past is a Moving Picture: Screening of the film Up Standing: Stories of Courage from Northern Ireland,’ on Tuesday 15 March at 7 pm, upstairs in the Sunflower Bar on Union Street.

The film tells the stories of ten so-called ‘everyday’ people in Northern Ireland who ‘stood up to violence, prejudice and sectarianism in Northern Ireland.’

You can watch the trailer here.

The film was created by Corrymeela as a tool to support an exploration of the Troubles and to broaden the debate around how we can learn from the past in a meaningful way – what different choices do we need to make in the present and future to build a peaceful and shared society?

I’ll provide a short reflection following the film, which will be followed by a facilitated question and answer session with producer/director Paul Hutchinson and me.

The event is free but places are limited. You can register here.

From schoolgirls who stood up to boys engaging in sectarian bullies on a bus, to a neighbour who guarded the house of a mixed-marriage family with a fire extinguisher when it was under threat, to a trade unionist who removed a paramilitary recruiting poster, to a peace march organiser, the film allows people to speak for themselves about the reasons why they made the choices they did.

We also learn about the consequences of their courage – which included being ‘put out’ of an area for offering shelter to a young girl whose father was threatened with violence.

I think that these stories are powerful because they show that even in the midst of violence and sectarianism, people can and did choose to engage in non-violent action.

Their example remains relevant in a Northern Ireland in which some narratives about the past assert that violence was somehow inevitable. This was not the case, and as we ‘deal with’ our past, we need to be reminded of those who chose peaceful paths of resistance.


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