In the Name of the Father – Its Connection to Irish History & Society

Jim Sheridan’s evergreen In the Name of the Father had its 28th anniversary on 7 April and there are multiple reasons why I decided to write a little remembrance of it. Firstly, because it is one of most critically acclaimed movies of the 20th century – showing both the high quality of Daniel Day-Lewis as an actor, and of Jim Sheridan as a film director. Secondly, because this extraordinary piece of work represents one of the heaviest and most important chapters of Irish history through the life story of Gerry Conlon that can be connected to the on-going unrest in Belfast.

Gerry Conlon was a human rights activist who was falsely charged for the crime of the Guildford Bombing. This bombing was carried out by the IRA, and took place on 5 October, 1974, ending with the deaths of five civilians. Despite his innocence, Conlon received a life-sentence, and was imprisoned along with fellow Irishmen, Paul Hill, Paddy Armstrong, and Englishwoman Carole Richardson. Conlon’s relatives, including his father, Giuseppe Conlon, were also falsely convicted and were imprisoned for decades. Giuseppe Conlon died in prison in 1980. Later, after 15 years and a long lasting legal battle for justice, Gerry Conlon and his convicted fellows were freed in 1989 and were cleared of all charges at the Royal Court in London. 

Historical Background of Narrative
The storyline of In The Name of The Father explores a chapter of the 30 years long Northern Irish conflict, known as “The Troubles”,that occurred primarily between two groups of people. The first group were the protestant loyalists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, the second group were the catholic Irish who wanted to see a united Ireland. The civil-war-like conflict took place mainly in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and other places in Ulster between 1968 and 1998. The conflict officially ended with the Good Friday Agreement.

Belfast riots 1

Credit: Kaspar C

How The Movie’s Narrative Connects to On-going Events Nowadays
Riots occurred once again in Northern Ireland between 30 March and 9 April this year, and the previously mentioned conflict was a root of this recent disorder. Loyalists clashed with Irish republicans once again and they committed mass disorder through rioting, hijacking, arson, and violent behaviour against police. The major locations where these riots took place were Belfast, Carrickfergus, and Derry. What was the factor that triggered these riots?

Belfast Riots

Credit: Sineakee

Brexit & Its Post-Effects
When the majority of British citizens voted for Brexit in June 2016, this move has generated more issues in British politics than people might have initially expected. The Brexit vote caused, once again, instability that affected the political situation in Northern Ireland. Especially because the vast majority of Northern Ireland cast their votes in favour of remaining in the European Union. Loyalists argued that post-Brexit trading agreements have created barriers between NI and the rest of the UK, which apparently only deepened the instability in the heart of NI.

Banksy

Credit: dullhunk

Is There a Solution to Such a Long Lasting Social Issue?
According to the sensitivity of the topic and the fact that I am a journalist, positioning myself in this matter would be inappropriate, so I would rather finish my article by looking at the subject via the lens of an observer with objectivity. Politics may divide people regardless of which country or nation we talk about, it has always been like that. Jim Sheridan’s In The Name of The Father shows us how political incorrectness and injustice can severely damage human lives. Furthermore, it puts the major social issue of NI into the foreground. That social problem that has not yet been solved so far, and the post-Brexit effects may not have positive impacts on the matter either. Even though the probable solution to this matter is still unclear, one thing is for sure, there is no political power that could be stronger than justice and the will of people. There has never been one and never will be.

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About the author

Aron Debreceni

Aron is a journalist and a student of Utrecht University (NL). He has been doing his own singer-songwriter project 'Aron D' since 2016. Besides music, he is open to write articles about politics, education, health, history and travel.

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