Strip search film by Derry group refused grant in 1986

Film investigated treatment of women in Armagh prison, according to National Archives

Minister for women’s affairs Nuala Fennell (centre) at a reception for the Irish women’s hockey squad in 1986.  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Minister for women’s affairs Nuala Fennell (centre) at a reception for the Irish women’s hockey squad in 1986. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Minister for women’s affairs Nuala Fennell was “not disposed to assist” a Derry group who had applied for a grant in 1986, according to documents released from the National Archives.

A file from the Department of the Taoiseach shows Margo Harkin, of Derry Film and Video, was among many applicants for a grant for women’s development projects.

Her letter, dated May 14th, explained she was seeking funds to upgrade a film the group had made entitled Strip Searching – Security or Subjugation? so that it could be shown at the European Parliament.

The film was an investigation of strip searching of women in Armagh Prison in Northern Ireland, “most of whom have never been convicted of any crime”.

Including travel costs, the group needed IR£1,142 and had raised IR£300, the letter said.

Letter of refusal

A polite rejection followed on July 18th from the minister, saying because of the limited funds available and previous commitments, she was not in a position to help.

Other rejected applications included one from Sr Anna Maria O’Shaughnessy, who was offering courses to women in Tallaght, including those “looking for something more to life”.

The Federation of Unmarried Parents and their Children were offered a grant of IR£1,000, but, according to a letter dated May 21st, they were “very disappointed” that the amount was “so small”.