No Stone Unturned: comprehensively controversial

Documentary poster // IMDB

A visceral documentary comprised of two distinct stories; that of the journalists involved and that of the victims featured.  

No Stone Unturned, a 2017 documentary by prolific U.S filmmaker Alex Gibney (of The Armstrong Lie, Zero Days, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, and We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, amongst others), reopens and intensely scrutinises the events and the aftermath of the 1994 massacre in Louginisland, County Down. It gives great credence to not only the work of the documentary crew itself but also lends a much-needed voice to those affected by the atrocity.

The massacre, which saw six innocent men gunned down by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) as they watched the World Cup quarter-final in a local pub, breaks new ground in the conclusions that it arrives at.

It bravely names those deeply involved in collusion as well as naming the primary suspects in the murders, people mentioned only in leaked unredacted police investigations.

The unfortunate trade-off of this naming and shaming was revealed last week when the National Union of Journalists hosted a screening of the film in Cineworld on Parnell Street. In attendance, were two of the award-winning journalists who both acted as producers and sources in the film, Trevor Birney and Barry McAffrey. Arrested on suspicion of handling state secrets and stolen materials in relation to the case (the documents which contained the aforementioned names of the suspects), the pair made their way to Dublin to introduce their film and shed some light on the events surrounding their detention.

Released on bail, the two men spent over twelve hours in Musgrave Street station in Belfast, having been arrested in the early hours of the morning. There, both men were quizzed in turn being asked questions with both obvious answers and dumbfounding inquisitions, such as: “Do you feel sorry for potentially ruining the life of Ronny Hawthorne?” (the man named as the primary suspect in the killings). A serious allegation though it is, it is also a damaging blow to press freedom in Northern Ireland, and raises many questions regarding the future of investigations into the Troubles.

The journalists also revealed some lesser known facts, such as how they came to find the chief inspector on the case at the time now living in a small village in France, and how the story of police ineptitude surrounding the investigation continues to this day. Finally, elaborating further on the impact the documentary and the arrests have made, such as how the anonymous sources in the film could now be compromised and the closure, however incomplete, the revealing of the names has given to the victim’s families.

The documentary itself is a must-watch. The brutality of the conflict in Northern Ireland is laid bare simply and straightforwardly.

It is also a vigorous and in-depth exposé of the far-reaching extent of the collision, criminality, and cover-ups by the police in Northern Ireland during the troubles, including informers from both republican and loyalist sides, sanctioned murders, and other inexcusable acts.

From the Czech manufactured automatic rifles used in the killings and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) partaking in arm deals across borders and continents with the likes of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, even the smallest of details relating to the time period were explored.  These revelations, coupled with the portrayal of the massive amount of unsolved murders and the numbers of sectarian killings during the Troubles, lead to an excellent letter of hope for those affected, and something of a eulogy for all those who lost their lives.

The trailer for the film can be watched here:

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