Actor who praised McGuinness '˜has quite a short memory'

Actor Colm Meaney has been urged not to forget about Martin McGuinness's past, following complimentary comments from the former Star Trek star.

Monday, 12th September 2016, 6:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 3:57 pm
Colm Meaney (right) pictured in his role as Martin McGuinness alongside Timothy Spall, who plays Ian Paisley in The Journey

DUP MP Gregory Campbell hit out at Meaney after the actor described McGuinness as an “extraordinary statesman”.

Colm Meaney plays the former IRA commander, now Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, in a new film titled ‘The Journey’.

The film is a fictional drama about the friendship forged between Ian Paisley and Mr McGuinness.

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Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival, Meaney told the Press Association: “I think what Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein have achieved in Ireland in the last 10 years is tremendous.”

However, Mr Campbell hit out after hearing of those comments, saying: “He obviously has quite a short memory when he talks about Martin McGuinness’s contribution.

“Whatever about his contribution in latter years, nobody in Northern Ireland will forget about his contributions in earlier years that caused much of the heartache and problems that many of us had to try and solve in later years.”

Meaney – known for his roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – seemed to anticipate the controversy that would follow from his praise of McGuinness. “Anyone who is involved in politics in Ireland is controversial,” he said.

Mr Paisley’s widow, Baroness Paisley, has said she plans to boycott the film starring Meaney as Mr McGuinness and Timothy Spall as Mr Paisley.

Baroness Paisley said: “They offered for me to go and see it here but I declined because I didn’t like what I’d heard about it and I just don’t want to see it at all.”

When asked what specifically had made her form that view, she said: “The whole story line puts me off, from what I’ve gathered.”

Director Nick Hamm stressed the fictional element of the film, saying: “We were not looking for either side to feel comfortable with the film.

“Neither were we looking for either side to condemn the film. We were looking to present a balanced argument where both sides would be equally comfortable and equally uncomfortable.

“It is not a documentary. It’s a fictionalised, entertaining feelgood movie about peace.”

Meanwhile, Mr Campbell said he has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s office about the PSNI’s alleged failure to interview Mr McGuinness about Bloody Sunday.

He said: “There have been procedures and questioning of soldiers undertaken for several years regarding their actions in Londonderry in January 1972 during what has been termed ‘Bloody Sunday’.

“At the time of the report and repeatedly since, I have publicly asked what questioning the police plan to undertake regarding the actions of people other than soldiers in and around that time.

“The Saville Report indicated that Martin McGuinness ‘probably’ was in possession of a submachine gun around that time. That must lead to his being questioned.”