Paddy Devlin: Times Remembered

Paddy Devlin: Times Remembered

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Belfast Harbour, East Belfast, Linen Hall Library, West Belfast




Transmission 10/01/1994


25min 11sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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It is illegal to download, copy, print or otherwise utilise in any other form this material, without written consent from the copyright holder.


A profile of Paddy Devlin, Irish social democrat, labour and civil rights activist and writer. He is interviewed by a variety of people he has met throughout his life, with topics discussed ranging from his early life and career, to his political ideology. 

Standing by Belfast Harbour, Devlin recounts growing up in West Belfast just after partition. He tells of the hardships his mother and father went through, working in the local mills twelve hours a day. Fred Heatley (historian) chats to Devlin about socialism and the impact growing up working class had on his political aims. 

Next, the subject of his internment at Crumlin Road Gaol is raised, with Devlin discussing how he got involved with the trade union and civil rights movement. Here, he makes the point that there was unionist participation in the civil rights movement, for example Chichester-Clark. 

Chris Ryder, a journalist, asks about Devlin's membership in the IRA and why he later left the organisation, something Devlin puts down to his being against sectarianism. During this time he also publicly supported the police over the Provisional IRA, a controversial move which, he says, was a necessary stance and one taken to counter sectarianism.

With Ivan Cooper, he discusses the creation of the SDLP and the collapse of the Stormont Assembly.

Shot List

Start of programme with Paddy Devlin [PD] giving a series of interviews over the years. PD standing by Belfast Harbour, giving overview of his early years and family history, including memories of local people during the partition of Ireland, growing up hearing Lambeg drums on the 12th of July. Views of St Peter’s Chapel. PD remembering moving to Beechmount and then to Conway Street on the Lower Falls, where his mother and father both worked in the mills.  Discussion on the difficulty of working in the mills, and changes to housing over the years. Fred Heatley [FH], historian, interviewing PD in the Linen Hall Library, Belfast, looking at old Newspaper clippings. Images of Thomas Russell, first librarian at Linen Hall, and a member of the United Irishmen. Discussion on working class backgrounds, starting work at 14 years old, and the difficulties of working in mills and not owning shoes. PD discussing playing football with Old Lodge Football team, with people from both the Shankill Road and the Falls Road, including Gusty Spence’s brother. PD discussing his internment at Crumlin Road Gaol, and how he got involved with social politics, the trade union movement, and the civil rights movement. Newspaper clippings of civil rights movement. Discussion on the unionist participation on the Civil Rights movement, including Chichester-Clark, and discussion that it wasn’t a completely Catholic or nationalist movement. Chris Ryder, journalist, interviewing PD about his membership in the IRA and why he quit the organisation, why he was against sectarianism. Image of Wolfe Tone. Discussion on the failure of the power sharing executive. PD noting his believe that he could have prevented much of the atrocities during the Troubles if everyone would have made a commitment to abolish sectarian actions. PD discussing his support for the police over the Provisional IRA. PD being interviewed by Ivan Cooper, discussing their shared history in the labour party, their non-sectarian nature of civil rights. Archival footage of parliament in Northern Ireland, with Paddy O’Hanlon, Paddy Kennedy, John Hume. PD discussing the socialist ticket and the creation of the SDLP at Toombridge. Discussion on the collapse of the Stormont assembly. Sam McAughtry, author, interviewing PD in Belfast Harbour, on PD’s background as a harbour commissioner. Still image of former harbour commissioners; discussion on how the dock worker unions were split along religious grounds. Discussion on how the dock workers were paid in the pubs, which contributed to a great deal of alcoholism and rise of money lenders. Discussion on the changing of population in areas around Belfast docks. SeaCat driving past PD at the harbour. PD and Mary getting invited into a house by theresa Devlin, for a cup of tea and some fresh soda bread. PD discussing history growing up and his school days, how he got interested in English literature. PD discussing his Master of Science degree, before getting into politics. PD discussing the power sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland and how important they are when trying to stop violence in Northern Ireland. PD walking along beach.


A UTV Production.

UTV wishes to thank: Cultural Traditions Group, The Linenhall Library, Belfast City Council, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and Belfast Harbour Commissioners 

Also featured: Sam McAughtry, Mary and Theresa Devlin. 



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