The Ulster Covenant

The Ulster Covenant

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Befast, London


circa 1912


1962 (of events circa 1912)


20min 39sec





black and white


National Film and Television Archive


Northern Ireland Office

Rights Holder

Northern Ireland Office

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


Compilation of documents, stills, and film archive footage recording the events surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.


Piece gives overview of the times leading up to the signing of the Ulster Covenant and forming of the UVF and their involvement in WWI. The Ulster Covenant was signed by some half a million men and women. It opposed the introduction of the Third Home Rule Bill and devolved government for Ireland.

Shot List

Commemoration of the The Ulster Covenant of 1912, an expression of opposition to Home Rule by the Protestants of Northern Ireland. The film uses maps, newspaper cuttings, lampoon sketches, film archive footage, and quotations. Main Title superimposed over map of partitioned Ireland - commentary explains that 50 years ago Ireland was completely part of the UK and how the issue of Irish Home Rule became the dominant political issue in the three years leading to WWI. Pan right to map of England (33). June 11th, 1911: Coronation of King George V - footage of carriage moving through crowds on The Mall (45). Painting of Coronation (56). Photo of House of Commons (62). Commentary explains Government Bill to veto power in House of Lords - shots of painting of House of Commons interior with quote on limitations of the veto - portrait of Herbert Henry Asquith - photo of Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd-George, and Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, walking on street - painting of House of Commons - the other side of the house is unwilling to change the constitution: 'Before the end of the war they will have a new leader - Bonar Law' (92). Photo of Bonar Law (95) and Edward Carson QC (101). Portrait of John Redmond of the Irish Nationalist Party (109). Asquith pledges for Redmond's vote (118). The Home Rule Act is passed - lampoon caricature shows Redmond as Henry VIII appealing to Asquith as The Cardinal to push the 'state divorce' through as soon as possible (133). Commentary: 'Not all Irishmen want Home Rule - in Ulster they'll have none of it' - Belfast, Sept 23rd, 1911: 50,000 Unionists gather to hear Carson's speech – 'to confront the most nefarious conspiracy that was ever hatched against a free people' (158). Preparations for resistance begin throughout Ulster - photos of Unionist clubs and Orange Order prepared for battle (171). Churchill criticises Carson's 'frothings' on his visit to Belfast - Bonar law, new leader of the Conservative Unionist party urges Ulstermen to 'save yourselves!' (211). Home Rule Bill introduced - Law's rejection speech - Unionist Rally in July - drawing up of the Ulster Covenant to resist imposition of Home Rule - Carson's speech regarding Covenant - photos of anti-Home Rule demonstations in Ulster (295). 28th Sept, 1912: Ulster Day, crowds at Belfast City Hall - interior: corridors - the Ulster Covenant read and superimposed over shots of City Hall (316). Marching Orangemen with Carson (329). Carson signing the Covenant - crowds in City Hall Square - shot of Covenant with signed names (365). Newspaper cutting Oct 9th 1912: 'Home Rule - Government's Guillotine Revolution' - caricature of Home Rulers walking to the guillotine (374). Jan 16th, 1913: picture of Commons with information that the Bill is now to go to the House of Lords - Feb to July 1913: Lords reject Home Rule Bill twice (387). Series of photos depicting the formation of the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) - pan along photo of Ulster Volunteers at rifle practice - photo of Sir George Richardson, appointed to command UVF (401). Photo of provisional government to take over in the event of Home Rule failure - CU photo of Carson with Union Jack (409). Carson reviews UVF (430). Newspaper cutting indicates government alarm at Ulster's preparation and Royal Proclamation prohibiting importation of arms to Ireland (441). King George turns to Asquith for help – newspaper cartoon shows them addressing one another across a huge maze (460). Ulster is excluded from Home Rule for six years, prompting Redmond's: 'Ireland is a unit' (480). Cartoon of Carson as King on playing-card rejecting 'stay of execution' (485). Commentary explains that the British Government had begun to send troops into Ireland: shots of warships on Belfast Lough (519). Film footage and photos of Carson with members of the Ulster Volunteers (530). 1914: Sir John Paget refuses to force Home Rule Bill on Ulster (549). Landing of arms at Larne from Hamburg - commentary over painting of scene (580). May 1914: Commons approve Home Rule Bill for third time with Royal assent (621). Carson speaks at Orange Day celebrations meeting on 12th July 1914 (640). July 24th 1914: meeting between Unionist delegates and British government at 10 Downing St interrupted by news of outbreak of WWI (700). 13th Ulster Division marching – military graves (720). 50 years on - City Hall in Belfast intercut with shots of farming, factories - statue of Carson outside of Stormont - commentary states that the true memorial to Carson and his volunteers lies in the fact that 'Northern Ireland remains part of the UK' - followed by END TITLES (776ft). Source: SIFT - NFTVA database.


An RHR Production in association with The Film Producers Guild; Produced by Ronald H Riley; Writer and Director - Richard Tambling; Photographed by Guild Animation Ltd; Cameraman - Tony Haines; Editors - Michael Barden, Michael Crane; Research - Nicholas Alwyn; Sound Recorded by - Ted Drake



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