Absence and presence
: Investigating the cinematic representation of Northern Irish unionists (1981-2020)

  • Richard Gallagher

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research project explores the politics of cinematic representation in relation to Northern Irish unionists and focusses on feature-length fiction films released between 1981-2020. Prior to this contemporary period, only a handful of mainstream cinema releases featured identifiable unionist characters and their culture. The thesis examines this curious ‘cinematic deficit’ in fiction films that deal with the conflict in – or about – Northern Ireland, and assesses why unionists and unionism have traditionally been depicted in a much more negative light than Irish nationalism, and nationalists. The research adopts a methodology consisting of close analysis of how film language and narrative forms have been typically deployed within this context, combined with a detailed consideration of relevant socio-historical and film production and distribution issues.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 July 2027.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorCahal McLaughlin (Supervisor), Sian Barber (Supervisor) & Dominic Bryan (Supervisor)


  • Unionism
  • loyalism
  • protestantism
  • representation
  • Northern Ireland
  • The Troubles
  • Irish studies
  • media studies
  • film studies

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