Tim McGarry: Sorry Sir Kenny, but no-one was called Buddy in Belfast in 1969

I have not seen the film Belfast yet, but, in solidarity with the spirit of Twitter, I would like to make some completely ill-informed, stupid and borderline offensive comments about this cinematic offering that, I repeat, I have not actually seen.

By Tim McGarry
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 2:03 am
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 2:13 am
Tim McGarry, who writes a column for the News Letter every other Thursday.

Firstly, and most annoyingly, the child hero of the film is called Buddy.


Well I’m sorry, but nobody in Belfast in 1969 was called Buddy.

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‘Buddy’, left, played by Jude Hill alongside ‘Pa’ (a blatant rip off of ‘Da’), played by Jamie Dornan, in the film Belfast, directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh


And if any parents decided to call their child Buddy in 1969 they frankly deserved to have their windows put in and be driven out of Northern Ireland by an angry mob.

(By the way, it’s 2022. If you are called Buddy today it’s ok, you can change it by deed poll.)

Secondly, the film is a virtual smoke free zone.

The Ulster-born director of Belfast, Ken Branagh. Surely he could have added a prelude to the film outlining basic facts from Irish history starting with the Norman Invasion of 1169. Or, if he was pushed for time, maybe from the Plantation of Ulster in 1610

Apparently almost nobody in a film lasting 97 minutes and set in Belfast in the 1960s has a fag.

Really? Back in those days the average living room and pub produced more smoke than the Primark fire. I was only five years old in 1969 and I was already on twenty high tar untipped Park Drive a day.

Thirdly, Jamie Dornan’s character in the film is called ‘Pa’. Pa!!??? This character name has clearly been stolen by Kenneth Branagh from Northern Ireland’s favourite sitcom character ‘Da’.

This blatant theft of my intellectual property will soon be the subject of a legal action. (If Edwin Poots is reading this, can you give me a call?)

The country is locked in a bizarre updated version of Samuel Beckett’s classic play Waiting for Sue Gray (’s Report)

Finally, history. Some reviewers have claimed that Belfast lacks sufficient political context. The outbreak of violence in 1969 is not properly explained in the film. Catholics and Protestants just seem to spontaneously start throwing things at each other.

Surely Sir Kenny could have added a brief 25 to 30 minute prelude to the film outlining basic facts from Irish history starting with the Norman Invasion of 1169. Or, if he was pushed for time, maybe from the Plantation of Ulster in 1610. He should at least have provided a comprehensive reading list with every cinema ticket sold.

This would allow the film’s viewers across the globe to realise that the trouble in Belfast in 1969 was actually caused by Oliver Cromwell, King Billy, the Pope, and Ian Paisley.

Anyway, Kenny — if you want to make Belfast 2, I am available.

My regular readers will be surprised to learn that it actually takes me quite a bit of time to write this column.

It’s only around 900 words long but, dear reader, I can assure you that this is a hand crafted and bespoke newspaper column.

Every single one of the words I compose is precious and sacred to me.

Each comma and semi-colon is a friend.

Every phrase is carefully considered, cogitated, and mulled over. I check and re-check the content.

I always ask myself, is there a better way of expressing myself?

Is a more pithy phrasing possible?

Could the wording be wittier?

Are my words open to misinterpretation?

It’s only after being fully satisfied that I can stand over every syllable that I will let it be released to the public.

If this was my policy, and indeed everyone’s policy when on Twitter, then the world would be a much better place.

• Number 10 in lockdown was like the Holylands on St Patrick’s Day

At the time of writing the whole country is still locked in a bizarre updated version of Samuel Beckett’s classic play Waiting for Sue Gray (’s Report).

By the time you are reading this it will probably have been released so let me make an educated guess or two as to what Sue has found.

Basically, during the strictest national lockdown in living memory, Number 10 was like a street in the Holylands on St Patrick’s Day.

Sue will say that she changed her report from an investigation in to when parties took place at Downing Street to listing dates when they actually didn’t take place.

There will be photographs of a COBRA meeting doing ‘Rock the Boat’.

Sue will reveal that the cabinet were downing tequila shots to celebrate the arrival of Carrie Johnson’s new gold wallpaper.

There will be video evidence of Boris holding an impromptu drinks party whilst on a visit to an ICU because it was Larry the Cat’s birthday.

Sue will find that you can’t actually be ambushed by a cake.

Sue will also allege that she was threatened by Tory Party whips and told that if her report wasn’t favourable she’d be going back to running a pub in Newry.

To be fair, if we all just accept that Boris and his cabinet are permanently on the sauce it would actually help explain Brexit and a lot of other Tory Party policies.

For instance, last week, in a desperate attempt to distract from Partygate ‘Culture Secretary’ Nadine Dorries attacked the BBC. I think she’s right. In fact all broadcasters should bow down to the Conservatives and only make television programmes that reflect true Tory Party values.

Can I suggest a few suitable name changes of popular shows?

How about, Come Drink With Me? Strictly Come Boozing? The One (for the road) Show? Or a remake of the classic political sitcom Yesh Minishter?

Anyway, it’s Wednesday morning and no-one can predict the immediate future. So I’m not saying that Boris is a dead man walking, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, on Thursday, several Tory MPs dump him in a Post Office in Carlow.