Statement For Press By Niall Farrell: On Another Woman’s
Wound – The Background To The Making Of A Documentary On The Life & Death
Of Mairead Farrell
No member of the extended Farrell family participated in the making of the documentary, “An Unfinished Conversation…”, on the life and death of my only sister Mairead
This is a brief explanation as to why we felt compelled not to participate.
The unjust killing by the British state of Mairead on March 6th 1988 was the most harrowing experience to befall our family and it was one that in my own case has left deep scars. The dramatic nature of Mairead’s short life and brutal death attracted many seeking to document it in print and film. With the wise advice of our lawyer Paddy McGrory we learnt from earlier mistakes and became much more cautious when dealing with the miscellaneous branches of the media.
The author of “An Unfinished Conversation…”, Briona Nic Dhiarmada, had been working with Mairead on a book about her life at the time of the murder. In 1989 Briona produced a manuscript, which I was given the task by my parents of reading. In the family’s view this ‘biography’ was deeply flawed. The main thesis was that Mairead’s political activism from her joining the Republican Movement till her death in Gibraltar stemmed from her need to “fit in” amongst her peers in the Republican Movement. This was not the confident, extrovert, intelligent and determined Mairead we knew and we believed said more about Nic Dhiarmada’s inadequacies rather than those of my sister. For that reason we decided to give Nic Dhiarmada a wide berth.
The above thesis contrasts markedly with Professor (sic) Nic Dhiarmada’s new-found assessment of my sister’s life as reproduced on the website of the US Notre Dame University: “I strongly believe that Mairéad Farrell was a product of her environment and a product of Irish history.”
Where and when she had her Pauline conversion I do not know, nor do I care.
Enter The Republican Movement
In the Summer of 2012 while I was on holiday abroad I received a call from what I will loosely call a leading figure in the Republican Movement. He informed me that Nic Dhiarmada had teamed up with Dublin-based filmmakers with the goal of making a documentary of Mairead’s life. I expressed my serious reservations about Nic Dhiarmada, but agreed to discuss it further on my return to Ireland. However, it soon transpired that filming of the documentary was well underway. The “big shots” within the Republican Movement had already done a deal with Nic Dhiarmada et al without having the common decency to inform us straight away of the proposal. Faced with such a fait accompli I decided to have nothing to do with the documentary and asked family members to do the same.
During the 1990s the leadership of the Republican Movement created what they call the “Republican Family”. Being the brother of an IRA martyr I have found myself forcibly adopted into this “family”. It has meant receiving calls to establish my views on such absurd things as Martin McGuinness shaking hands with Frau Battenberg aka Elizabeth Windsor. But when it came to something close to my heart, my sister, I receive no call. Of course, such underhand, deceitful actions are par for the course with these “big shot republicans”. One thing is clear: the Republican Movement would not allow its members to participate in a documentary about the families of the “republican royalty” without first getting the assent of these “royals”.
The title of Briona Nic Dhiarmada’s documentary “An Unfinished Conversation..” puts, as I expected, the filmmaker centre stage. It will no doubt improve her career and help fill the coffers of the Dublin company involved. That is why I believe “On Another Woman’s Wound” would be a more appropriate title for the documentary.
In the greater scheme of things the making of this documentary is of little importance. There are more critical issues to be focused on from Ireland’s participation in mass murder via Shannon airport to mass unemployment, mass poverty, mass emigration etc, etc that exists in Ireland. My daughter, newly-elected Sinn Fein councillor Mairead Farrell, and I agree that it is more important that she concentrates on the concerns of her constituents than become involved in this saga.