Unjustly neglected by history, a once-major force in Northern Irish politics is dragged back into the spotlight provided by “Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey.” Offering essential history lessons for auds who dimly recall the name Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, but not necessarily her impressive achievements, Lelia Doolan’s film entertains as well as educates, thanks to her highly engaging subject and rich treasure trove of archival clips. Following exposure at the Galway and London festivals, the docu looks set for tube airings wherever the Irish diaspora has spread, with a long afterlife as an educational tool.
Elected to the British Parliament in 1969 at the age of 21, Bernadette Devlin was the youngest-ever female MP. A vital force in the civil-rights movement fighting discrimination against Catholics in housing and employment, she was also a gifted orator with strong community roots and even firmer radical-socialist convictions. Despite having faded in profile since she survived an assassination attempt in 1981, the former “Castro in a miniskirt” proves well worth Doolan’s feature-length probing, filmed over the years 2002-11. Director acknowledges a debt to John Goldschmidt’s 1969 TV docu “Bernadette Devlin” for early archival material.