Monday, September 28, 2009

Martin McGartland, in hiding from the IRA for 20 years, just called me for a correction.

Martin McGartland of Fifty Dead Men Walking calls for a correction

Posted in Film by Hank Sartin on August 31st, 2009 at 4:04 pm

As editor of the film section, I get some pretty unusual phone calls, like a reader asking about when a movie is coming to Chicago or a guy who made a movie in his basement assuming I’ll want to write an article about him.

But today’s phone call takes the cake. Martin McGartland, in hiding from the IRA for 20 years, just called me for a correction.

Who is he? McGartland grew up in Northern Ireland in an area where the IRA held a lot of power. McGartland was approached by British Intelligence, who knew that he was of interest to the IRA. (Note my cautious phrasing here.) McGartland joined the IRA as an infiltrator and relayed information to the British. Eventually, the IRA worked it out and McGartland had to go into hiding. He has been living in hiding from the IRA for 20 years. Attempts have been made on his life. He wrote a book about his time in the IRA called Fifty Dead Men Walking.

The book was made into a film, also called Fifty Dead Men Walking. I reviewed the film last week. My review, unfortunately, starts off thusly: “As IRA terrorist and British informant Martin McGartland, [Jim] Sturgess…” You can see the problem from Martin’s point of view; I’ve made it sound like he was a terrorist who became an informant. Wrong order of events. He went in under instructions from British Intelligence.

Therefore, Martin called me to ask for a correction. Um, holy shit.

He was very pleasant and polite (”I’m not trying to make any trouble for you, but you have to see this from my point of view…” he said several times) and I was apologetic. We chatted a bit, just long enough for him to restate his point a few times and mention that he’s trying to get another book published, so any public reference to him matters, especially when it makes him sound like he was a terrorist first. Boy, did I feel bad. So, our review online will be corrected, and I’ve asked for a correction on our letters page. And if you’re still checking back, Martin, my apologies for my unclear phrasing.

By the way, Martin also did a very interesting phone interview with our colleagues at Time Out London, in case you want to read his about larger issues with the film Fifty Dead Men Walking.

Link here;-