The Long March

© By Anne Devlin

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A 30 year old exile returns to Belfast at the height of the H Block campaign after nine years in England. A former civil rights activist, disillusioned by the failure of the non sectarian left in the early 70’s, she finds herself drawn into the periphery of the H Block struggle when researching a book on the Northern Ireland legal system. In the course of her work she encounters the families of men ‘on the blanket’ and a wanted INLA man. She faces hostility because her father, a trade unionist, refuses to support the protest and because of her own anglicised manner.

ROSE: What’s she doing out there Joe?
HELEN: I still remember that time when we thought we were beginning a new journey: the long march. What we didn’t see was that it had begun a long time before with someone else’s journey we were simply getting through the steps in our own time. What we didn’t see was that we never had a time which we could call our own.
JOE: She appears to be looking at the moon.

Extract courtesy of Anne Devlin

“The Long March is an attempt to tie in a major historical moment with the lives of ordinary people because in Northern Ireland politics is the grammar of social relations”.
Anne Devlin 1982

Further Infomation


Radio 4 November 1982






First produced Radio 4 November 1982, Dir Robert Cooper
TV BBC1 November 1984, Dir Chris Parr


Michael Poole in the Listener November 1982 wrote:
“The Long march is not a play that preaches, offers easy solutions or any single viewpoint. Nor does it fudge the real issues by retreating into a despairing liberalism.What it does do is present an incisive portrait of the Catholic community between March 1979 and Christmas 1981- its tensions, difficulties, contradictions. Its world is believable- real and tangible in a way that news coverage of Northern Ireland is not. And it is here that its politics lie, not in republicanism or even nationalism, but in connecting us up with the lived reality of an embattled and frightened community that too many people would prefer we didn’t know too much about. “