Tuesday, December 5, 2023

‘I think it will happen’: Liam Neeson says Ireland will be united during his lifetime

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Liam Neeson has said he expects to see a united Ireland during his lifetime.

The 70-year-old Northern Ireland actor was speaking to Sky’s Beth Rigby Interviews… programme ahead of the release of Marlowe, his 100th film.

He said: “I think it will happen, but, you know, everybody has to be appeased.

“The Protestants in the North of Ireland have a strong voice.

“I hear them, I know where they’re coming from, and they have to be respected.

“If there’s going to be a united Ireland, their voice has to be heard and they have to be represented, if a united Ireland comes about.”

Neeson, brought up Catholic in a predominantly Protestant town, began his acting career on stage in Northern Ireland, performing during The Troubles.

He said: “There were a couple of nights where the theatre would get a telephone call to be told there’s a bomb, and we’d have to go out onto the street with the audience, and the soldiers came in and searched, and maybe an hour I say, okay, you can go back in again.

“It was dangerous but I guess because of my age and because I loved what I was doing, I was just in a bubble.”

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‘I needed to learn something about the history of my country’

He said his “rude awakening” came after Bloody Sunday in Derry in January 1972, when he realised he needed to “learn something about the history of my country”.

Thirteen people were shot dead and at least 15 injured that day, when members of the army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside – a mostly Catholic part of Londonderry.

‘Change – and change for good’

But he was living in the US when, 26 years later, the Good Friday Agreement was reached – something he described as “an extraordinary achievement”.

“There was just a feeling in the air, you know, of change – and change for good.”

Some fear the agreement could be put at risk by the politics of Brexit, and the complications it has brought to Northern Ireland.

‘Get back to work’

When asked if UK politicians have been responsible for stoking divisions, he said: “You’re opening a big book there.

“…On the world stage, when you see what’s happening in Ukraine and stuff and there’s a politician talking about [how] we have to get our sausages in from Britain into Belfast, it’s like, come on, seriously is this where we’re at?”

He called for Northern Ireland’s politicians, meanwhile, to get back to work, saying: “They’re representing the people of the North of Ireland – get back to work. You’re drawing the salary still.”

(c) Sky News 2023: ‘I think it will happen’: Liam Neeson says Ireland will be united during his lifetime

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