Northern Ireland

How I came to photograph Bloody Sunday

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What made our photographs on Bloody Sunday so important was the fact that there were only two photojournalists on the spot, myself and the Frenchman Gilles Peress, when the Paras came in shooting and killing.

Most of the pictures of that massacre were taken by me in the midst of the panicking, screaming, dying crowd of innocent and defenceless marchers for civil rights. There is a collection of them in Blood in the Street, an account I wrote immediately after that experience and after the ridiculous and offensive Widgery inquiry. The book is distributed by the families of the victims.

The worsening troubles of the Northern Ireland peace process

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"Both Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party now find themselves unable to call on the fierce communal loyalism which helped them contain the scandals"

One of the reasons Gerry Adams is in difficulties over revelations that he covered up charges of child rape against his brother and fellow Sinn Fein (SF) activist Liam is that people in Catholic working class areas who have given a lifetime to Republican ideals now see SF leaders in cahoots with their once-deadly Unionist enemies in implementing British rule. Why should they continue to suffer in silence when the cause has been abandoned?

Letter from Northern Ireland

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Attacks on Roma families have shocked many, argues Goretti Horgan. But politicians must shoulder much of the blame.

Two stories have dominated the headlines in Northern Ireland over the past few weeks: racists driving out a number of Roma families from their South Belfast homes and the expensive tastes of "Swish Family Robinson" - first minister Peter Robinson and his wife Iris - exposed by the MPs' expenses scandal. The two stories, of course, are not unconnected.

Northern Ireland

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When Barack Obama announced George Mitchell as his "peace envoy" in the Middle East there was praise for his choice of the "peacebroker" of Northern Ireland (NI). Yet only two months later the peace was shattered when two British soldiers and then a police officer were killed by Republican groups.

New Labour's warmongers proceeded to pour vitriol on the "men of violence" in a flood of hypocrisy. The British media revelled in the opportunity to push Sinn Fein to condemn the shootings. This they duly did. The sight of Martin McGuiness denouncing the attacks alongside police chief Sir Hugh Orde and the Unionist first minister Peter Robinson was a stark reminder of the extent of Sinn Fein's integration into the state.

Hunger

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Director: Steve McQueen; Release date: out now

Hunger is a remarkable, challenging account of the infamous H blocks of Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland, the events leading up to the hunger strike and death of Irish Republican Bobby Sands.

However, it is not the hunger strike equivalent to In the Name of the Father. That film about the Guildford Four stuck to pretty standard film drama techniques.

The New Politics of Sinn Fein

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Kevin Bean, Liverpool University Press, £16.95

In 1992 and 1993 the IRA planted enormous truck bombs in the City of London. Counter-intuitively, the bombs were intended to move the emerging Northern Ireland peace process along. Irish Republicanism is built on such contradictions.

From its emergence at the beginning of the 1970s the modern Irish Republican movement has moved from the declared aim of the revolutionary overthrow of Northern Ireland to sharing the trappings of government with the Protestant supremacists of the Democratic Unionist Party.

The DUP: still saving Ulster

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After helping Gordon Brown secure the recent Commons vote on 42-day detention without trial, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) seems to wish to be known as the party that just keeps giving.

Iris Robinson, wife of Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson, has offered to help gay people "cure" their "abomination" of a condition.

Robinson made her offer on local radio, after a report by a young gay man about a violent campaign of homophobia which had driven him from his home.

Ian Paisley may have gone, but his long fought campaign to "Save Ulster from Sodomy" seems alive and well in the DUP.

The Gerry and Ian roadshow

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Tony Blair hopes the Irish peace process will be seen as one of his greatest achievements.

According to his spin-doctors, the Great Communicator did what no British prime minister had been able to do before him: getting sworn enemies Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley to sit down together and form a devolved government in Northern Ireland.

On the face of it, the deal seems to represent some progress. Few would welcome a return to armed struggle. In that sense at least the political process is a step forward. But there are huge problems with the architecture of the deal, particularly the way in which it enshrines communal divisions.

Looking Back in Anger

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Interviews with those involved in the hunger strikes

Bik McFarlane spent more than half of his adult life imprisoned by the British. During the hunger strikes of 1981 he was the OC (officer commanding) in the H-Blocks. He was one of 38 Republican prisoners to escape from the prison in 1983.

"The British government intended the H-Blocks to be the 'breakers' yard' for the Republican movement," says McFarlane. "They saw prisoners as the most vulnerable section of the movement and they set out to break them.

1981: Fighting Britain's Guantanamo

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Twenty five years ago Irish Republicans in British jails were fighting for the right to be considered political prisoners. Brutalised and abused they turned to a weapon of last resort, a hunger strike. Simon Basketter tells the story of their struggle.

The Guantanamo Bay prison camp - where orange jump-suited prisoners lie caged, blindfolded and held without trial - sums up the brutality of the "war on terror". Yet this regime has failed to crush the spirit of resistance among the detained. Their hunger strikes so terrified those who control the camp that they described them as unfair, an act of "asymmetric warfare". Most British politicians, even those who are still pro-war, have been forced to call for Guantanamo's closure, suggesting it is an aberration that would not occur under any British command.

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