Of all the volatile periods in Northern Ireland's recent history the Hunger Strikes is one of the most impassioned and dramatic. It was a key event in the relationship between the British ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Narrator (voice)
Bik McFarlane ...
Richard O'Rawe ...
Bernard Ingham ...
Alexander Gowrie ...
Himself (as Lord Gowrie)
Seanna Walsh ...
Tommy McKearney ...
Gerry Adams ...
Danny Morrison ...
Bernadette Devlin ...
Jim Gibney ...
Hugh Logue ...
Laurence McKeown ...
John O'Connell ...
Dessie Waterworth ...


Of all the volatile periods in Northern Ireland's recent history the Hunger Strikes is one of the most impassioned and dramatic. It was a key event in the relationship between the British Government and Irish Republicans, a unifying force for nationalists and a focal point for world opinion. It had a central role in shaping the political landscape of Northern Ireland today by bringing Sinn Fein into electoral politics for the first time and is largely responsible for the strong electoral position it has achieved today. The 25th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands took place on 5th May 2006. This documentary revisits the dramatic story of why 10 men starved themselves to death throughout the summer of 1980 to prove the strength of their convictions that they were a different category of prisoner. The people centrally involved - both inside and outside the H Blocks of Long Kesh prison - reveal the inside story of an event that shook the body politic of Ireland and Britain in its day... Written by Harkin, Margo

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Release Date:

28 June 2006 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs



(PAL Beta SP Video UK)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

2 March 2016 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

Irish producer and director Margo Harkin's documentary which she wrote, is inspired by real events which took place during the Troubles (1968-1998). It premiered in the UK, was shot on locations in the UK and is a UK-Ireland co-production which was produced by producer Joel Conroy. It tells the story about people in Northern Ireland and a psychological and political war between state authorities and civilians which escalated after Operation Banner (1969-2007) and reached a stalemate in 1981.

Distinctly and precisely directed by Irish filmmaker Margo Harkin, this quietly paced documentary which is narrated from multiple viewpoints, draws an informative portrayal of experiences. While notable for its atmospheric milieu depictions, this dialog-driven and narrative-driven story about English-Irish history, national security policy, so-called non-violent resistance, fear mongering, statecraft, Irish unionist loyalism, Irish republican nationalism, segregation and intimidation, was made eight centuries after the Norman Invasion of Ireland (1167), more than five centuries after the Queen Mary Harp (1450s), three centuries after an English actress named Mary Saunderson Betterton (1637-1712) made her first stage performance (1662), the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland (1649-1653) and the posthumous execution of an English 17th century father named Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), more than two centuries after the Battle of the Diamond (1795), a century after the Apprentice Boys of Derry (1814) in Derry, County Londonderry, UK, the Great Irish Famine (1845-1852), the Young Irelander (1842-1849) received the Irish tricolor (1848), the London Underground (1863), an English author named Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881) became prime minister and the Public Schools Act (1868), an English mountaineer named Lucy Walker (1836-1916) climbed the Matterhorn (1871), the Protection of Persons and Property Act (1881), an Irish professor from Virginia, Ireland named Agnes Winifred O'Farrelly (1874-1951) became the first woman Irish-language poet with the publication of "Love and Anguish" (1901) and an Irish actress named Edith Maud Gonne Macbride (1866-1953) who was president of Daughters of Ireland (1900-1914) participated in a one-act play called "Cathleen Ni Houlihan" (1902) by an Irish poet named William Butler Yates (1865-1939) and an Irish theater manager named Isabella Augusta Persee, Lady Gregory (1852-1932) who founded the Irish Literary Theater (1899-1901), ninety-eight years after Queen's University Belfast (1908), ninety-five years after George V (1865-1936) and Mary of Tech (1867-1953) respectively became King and Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions (1867-1953) in 1911, ninety-two years after the Defence of the Realm Act (1914), eighty-nine years after an Irish teacher named Thomas Patrick Ashe (1885-1917), eighty-seven years after an Irish daughter and only child named Sheila Humphreys (1899-1994) became a member of the Irishwomen's Council (1919), eighty-five years after an Irish sister who was born in London, England named Mary MacSwiney (1872-1942) became a Teachta Dála (1921), eighty-four years after the Guardian of the Peace (1922) was created in Dublin, Ireland, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (1922-2001) and an Englishwoman named Helena Florence Normanton (1882-1957) became the first woman King's Counsel in England (1922).

Made eighty-four years after an Irish politician named Lady Ellen Odette Bischoffsheim Cuffe, Countess of Desart (1857-1933) became an independent member of the Seanad Éireann (1922), eighty-two years after the Irish Defence Forces (1924), sixty-nine years after the Constitution of Ireland (1937), sixty-eight years after the Offences against the State Acts (1938-1998), sixty-seven years after a declaration of a state of emergency by the Dáil Éireann (1939), fifty-seven years after the ratification of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948 (1949), forty years after the UCDC (1966), thirty-seven years after the first peace lines in Northern Ireland (1969), thirty-six years after the Irish women's liberation movement and the Falls Curfew (1970), thirty-five years after the opening of Her Majesty's Prison Maze (1971-2000), thirty-four years after Special Category Status was granted by a deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1972), thirty-three years after the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act (1973) and the Diplock Courts (1973), thirty-one years after the Northern Ireland women's rights movement (1975), twenty-six years after a human being who as a fourteen-year-old student became a volunteer began a protest in the Armagh Women's Prison (1780s-1986) in 1980 where an Irish grandmother named Jackie Upton was one of a few Protestant women amongst numerous Catholic women, twenty-five years after, an Irish voice communicated the thirty-one-year life of a Northern Irish sister from Falls Road, West Belfast named Mairead Farrell (1957-1988) through the words: "… I pledged to fight for the … strip searches were … degraded me …", seventeen years after the commencement of the Official Secrets Act (1989), thirteen years after the Downing Street Declaration (1993), twelve years after the Extradition (Amendment) Act (1994) was ratified by the Oireachtas, nine years after an Irish mother sang: "… Can't you forgive what you think I've done … talk to me Englishman what good will shutting me out …" (1997), the Northern Ireland Act (1998), one year before the London Overground (2007), four years before many, concerning the Saville Inquiry (1998-2010), spoke of the creation of an unjust hierarchy of victims, six years before the introduction of the Civil Service (Special Advisors) Bill (2012), nine years before the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act (2015), members of Adodána called for a repeal of the Eight Amendment of the Irish Constitution (2015) and ten years before a twenty-two-year-old Irish activist named Ellen Murray decided to run for election in Stormant, Belfast (2016), contains interviews and a great and timely score.

This retelling which is set in the UK in the late 20th century when an Irish filmmaker named Pat Murphy's feature film debut called "Maeve" (1981) premiered and before UK citizens called for a more woman balanced UK Parliament, is impelled and reinforced by its cogent narrative structure, rhythmic continuity, archival footage and comment by an Irish Doctor of Law named Séan Donlon: "It's a long and one might say noble tradition in Irish history." An educational documentary.

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