April 2018, marked the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the international accord brokered by UK, Ireland and the US that ended more than three decades of bloodshed and strife in Northern Ireland. The guns and bombs may have fallen silent and peace does now reign over most of the country, but the ending of violence has not brought peace to those who fought during the ‘Troubles’, or the truth to those who lost loved ones in the conflict.
‘I, Dolours’, is the story of one of the first female leaders in the Irish Republican Army (IRA), for whom the Good Friday Agreement brought no peace of mind. A member of a crack, secret IRA unit run by Gerry Adams, Dolours Price led the first ever team to bomb the centre of London in 1973. But before that, she was a central figure in one of the most notorious and controversial IRA operations of the Troubles: the murder and dumping into unmarked graves of people whose violent deaths the IRA wished to keep secret – the so-called ‘disappeared’.
This documentary, based on lengthy interviews with Dolours Price and extensive reconstructions, tells the anguished story of one of the few women to rise to the top of the IRA only to be haunted by memories of what she had done and by the realisation that it had all been for nought. Plagued by guilt, alcoholism and PTSD, she died in Dublin in 2013.
We believe that this story, though from our recent past, gives us real insights into the contemporary world. This film is about more than the remarkable and disturbing story of Dolours Price’s life as an IRA bomber and killer. It is the story of disappointed idealism, unfulfilled expectations and, most of all, the haunting memories of violent death that combine to bring disillusionment, depression and a different kind of anger. Dolours Price’s story is a universal one – as it happened to her, so it happened to previous generations of idealistic activists, and so will it happen to many of those now swarming to Syria & Iraq. In so many ways – this is a story beyond countries and out of any specific time. Whether in the Middle East, Africa, Asia or South America, the politicisation and eventual disillusionment of young militants is a universal story. In this case, as in so many cases around the world, the full details of what happened during the war years have remained shrouded in secrecy as former exponents of violent struggles try to bury the past and move towards a peaceful future.
But in order to move forward – some truths need to emerge. Those who committed bloody acts of violence in the name of their beliefs need to be heard so that they and their victims and relatives too can move on. Denial of the horrors of the past does not offer healing. This film challenges us to ask ourselves how we might have reacted in the same situation and it forces us to consider whether or not the perpetrators of terrible acts have a right to tell their story. At its heart here is an extraordinary film about a woman – a beautiful, intelligent and articulate woman who in any other circumstances would have surely made her mark on the world in very different ways.
It is the Dolours Price story told in her own words. She wanted to speak out before she died, to explain herself, her actions and how she felt when she realised that what she had fought and killed for had been betrayed. She does not seek our pity or our forgiveness but she does want us to try to understand. True documentary asks difficult questions and sheds light where none was there before. We believe that this feature documentary does both and deserves therefore to be seen by the widest possible audiences around the world.