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» » Congo: An Irish Affair (2011)

Short summary

This is a story of post-colonial intrigue, incompetence and murder. This is the story of the Irish State involvement in Congo affairs as representatives of The United Nations Force. It is the story of what happened to the people of the Congo when they gained independence from Belgium in 1960. It is the story of the United Nations, faced with its first major crisis. It is the story of an Irish officer and his young soldiers stuck in the middle, as the people they came to protect tried to kill them.

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Pumpit
    FOR REASONS that hardly need to be stated, this is an appropriate time to release a documentary concerning the United Nations' intervention in a convoluted African civil war. Brendan Culleton and Irina Maldea's fascinating film focuses on the experiences – much discussed at the time, now unforgivably obscured – of Irish soldiers in the Congolese disturbances of 1961.

    In that year, the province of Katanga sought to break away from the newly independent Congo. The UN sent in a body of peacekeeping troops, who quickly found themselves in conflict with secessionist soldiers and largely white mercenaries.

    The film is mostly concerned with the experiences of ordinary men on the ground. Time is, however, found to closely examine the crucial role of Conor Cruise O'Brien. Viewers familiar only with the older Cruiser will marvel at the vigorous, plumby diplomat – then UN special representative – as, in archive footage, he bravely and forcefully puts the case for sanity.

    But it is the first-hand accounts from the soldiers that give An Irish Affair its impressive poignancy. In truth, the documentary is not hugely imaginative in its presentation. Vintage newsreel excerpts punctuate contemporary talking heads filmed before strategically placed pieces of military equipment.

    However, the honesty and integrity of the soldiers' testimonials make for compulsive viewing. Unlike the Americans or the British, we are not used to hearing our own soldiers detailing gruesome experiences in international conflict. That is, one supposes, no bad thing.
  • comment
    • Author: MisterQweene
    This is a fascinating documentary which I thoroughly enjoyed at the Galway Film Fleadh. It tells the story of this hidden piece of Irish Military and political history which our Government would rather have been forgotten about. The firsthand accounts give this film a special meaning and impact on the viewer. Anybody with a passing interest in Irish military and political history will enjoy this film. The honesty and integrity of the soldiers' testimonials make for compulsive viewing. We are not used to hearing our own soldiers detailing gruesome experiences in international conflicts. This is a dose of reality many would rather prefer to ignore. The actions of these men are to be highly commended for what they did in Jadotville. None of them were awarded any decorations for their bravery because at the time the Irish Army and Government wanted this affair airbrushed from our history books. There were many medals awarded to other troops in the Congo for events of far less significance and importance than what happened at Jadotville. It was remarkable that no Irish man lost his life there. Thankfully a few years ago the Government and Army finally acknowledged this affair by unveiling a Plaque in Custume Barracks in Athlone, regrettably very few people will ever get to see it.
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