A film depicting the 1983 breakout from the Maze Prison by 38 IRA prisoners – including Marcus Murray from Donagh and Seamus McElwain who was Officer Commanding of the IRA in County Fermanagh – has been branded as “terrorist propaganda” by UUP MLA Rosemary Barton, who is “disappointed” to learn that it is to be shown in Enniskillen cinema from tomorrow (Friday).

Starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (of RTE’s Love Hate fame) as Larry Marley who orchestrated the breakout, Maze was released last Friday and will be shown in Enniskillen from tomorrow “owing to demand from IMC customers in Omagh and Enniskillen.”

Sinn Féin Councillors Debbie Coyle and Barry Doherty said they contacted the cinema “after being lobbied by constituents who wanted the opportunity to see it in their own locality”, but IMC Cinema “categorically reject that representation by anyone had any influence on the decision of the directors to screen the film.”

The 38 escapees included Marcus Murray who had been serving a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to murder, Seamus McElwain who had been serving two life sentences for the murder of a local UDR man and an RUC reservist and current North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly who was convicted for the Old Bailey court bombing in 1973 and given two life sentences. Kelly recently wrote a book called ‘The Escape’ which outlined how one of the guns used in the escape had been smuggled into the jail by Seamus McElwain.

READ: Gun used in Maze escape smuggled in by Fermanagh IRA leader McElwaine

Murray was captured in Banbridge just hours after the escape and served the remainder of his sentence. He moved to Sligo after his release and he died in February 2016.

McElwain remained on the run until he was shot dead by an undercover SAS patrol near Rosslea in 1986 as he and current Fermanagh and south Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Sean Lynch prepared to ambush a British army patrol. A native of County Monaghan, McElwain was linked to the deaths of numerous security forces in County Fermanagh.

Fermanagh and Omagh Sinn Féin Chairman Stephen McCann angered unionists when, in a recent interview with The Impartial Reporter, he praised Seamus McElwain, saying: “He has made it possible for people like me to come forward and do what I have to do without having to worry about going to jail ... People like Seamus McElwain and others played their part and we are now living in times of peace.”

READ: Council Chairman Stephen McCann will not 'go down the road of condemning' Enniskillen bombing

Another of the men who escaped from the Maze was to die later in Fermanagh. Kieran Fleming, from Derry, drowned in the Bannagh River near Kesh just before Christmas in 1984. His IRA unit had been involved in a gun battle on the Fermanagh Border, when Antoine MacGiolla Bhrighde and an SAS soldier died. Fleming had tried to escape but died in the river.

UUP MLA Rosemary Barton said she is “disappointed but not surprised” with the decision to show the film in Enniskillen.
“IMC also screened the Bobby Sands film last year,” she said. “Both of these decisions highlight the lack of sensitivity shown to innocent victims by the owners and managers of IMC.”

Mrs. Barton stated: “This is not an event that should be celebrated but rather remembered as a group of terrorists who had caused death and destruction when they were within our community and again caused death and destruction when in prison.”

A Sinn Féin spokeswoman stated Sinn Féin Councillors had been contacted by constituents who wanted the opportunity to see it in their own locality.

“It is important that a wide audience has the opportunity to see this contribution to the visual history of our recent past, so it is welcome news that the cinema plan to show it from Friday,” they said.

A spokesman from IMC cinemas told The Impartial Reporter: “Maze offers a very balanced view of a prison breakout in Northern Ireland.

“Owing to demand from IMC customers in Omagh and Enniskillen the directors decided to play the film on the second week of its release. I categorically reject that representation by anyone had any influence on the decision of the directors to screen the film.”