McAliskey documentary premieres

A documentary has just been released detailing the political journey and contributions of Bernadette McAliskey.

Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey premiered last week at the Galway Film Fleadh.

The documentary, directed by Lelia Doolan, mixes archive footage of the younger, firebrand McAliskey with interviews conducted over the last several years. In total the film has been in production for nine years. There is certainly enough material to merit a feature length documentary.

The Coalisland woman rose to prominence in Derry during the Battle of the Bogside, August 1969. The young Tyrone woman received a nine month prison term for incitement to riot, serving four. A founding member of the People’s Democracy, Mrs Devlin-McAliskey, as she is now known was elected MP aged 21 years-old. She is still the youngest ever female to win a seat in the House of Commons. Her time there is best remembered for crossing the floor of the House to punch Reginald Malding after he claimed the Paratroopers had opened fire on Bloody Sunday “in self defence.” Bernadette lost her seat in Parliament in 1974, the same year she co-founded the Irish Republican Socialist Party, from which she resigned one year later. This did not remove her from public life or indeed from being targeted by paramilitaries. In 1981 Bernadette and husband Michael were shot, her eight times, him nine, by loyalists; they narrowly escaped with their lives. Bernadette McAliskey is still active in public live. She recently chaired a meeting in Derry on the plight of republican prisoners at Maghaberry and is a founding member of the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP). Bernadette addresses all of these issues and topics as well as her attitude to the developing peace process in Notes on a Political Journey.’ The director of ‘Bernadette...’, Lelia Doolan summed up the 87 minute documentary as: “Giving younger people, and older viewers as well, in a time of bland politics, a chance to see that there are ways of thinking open to them that allow them to exercise their freedom as citizens and encourage them.”