A thought inspired by The Wind that Shakes the Barley :
If you're making a political movie, about a cause or an issue you really believe in, and you think that your side is obviously the right one, then you should have the balls to give the other side just as good lines, just as appealing defenders, just as strong arguments. Otherwise you're stacking the deck and setting up straw men. And if your side really is right, why would you need to do that? (Maybe because you don't trust your audience?)
So, if you really believe, as Ken Loach and Paul Laverty seem to believe, that the split in the Republican movement was a tragedy as much because it dashed the hopes for a Communist Ireland as it was for turning brother against brother in a vicious Civil War, then you shouldn't need to stoop to portraying the pro-Treaty characters as power-grubbing hypocrites. The actual politics, loyalties, and issues seem messy enough that drawing clear sides, as the movie does, feels like a bit of a cheat.
The movie's nostalgia for Communism doesn't help, of course. I'm always a bit queasy watching movies like this or Pan's Labyrinth, which romanticize failed Communist movements, without seeming to acknowledge the fairly awful history of successful Communist movements.
Despite all this, I thought the movie was definitely worth watching. The subject is interesting, the performances are all nicely done, and it does a very good job of getting at some of the specifics of irregular warfare.