A film maker has angered some terror victims by describing the IRA attack on Lord Mountbatten’s fishing party in Sligo as “an act of war”.
In an online pitch to raise funds for a short film about the 1979 bombing that claimed the life of 15-year-old Paul Maxwell, as well as the Queen’s cousin and two of his relatives, Joe Madden uses the word “war” several times.
Yesterday the ‘Boat Boy’ film appeal hit its target of £15,000 and the film-maker behind the project told the News Letter he hoped to begin filming as soon as possible.
Paul Maxwell’s family lived in Enniskillen but owned a cottage in Mullaghmore.
The Portora Royal pupil had taken a summer job as a crew member on Mountbatten’s boat Shadow V and was saving his pay to buy a bicycle.
Mr Madden said he was prepared to meet any victims’ group concerned about his description of the film’s backdrop.
He said: “Everyone talks about the Mountbatten death, but no one remembers a young boy, or very few people do, especially in England, so I really wanted to tell this story.
“They (the victims’ groups) can call me and we can discuss it. The thing that I have put up online is a pitch to get money for a short film. It will annoy some people but then other people, and especially English people who are our main financiers behind all this... that’s who we’re trying to sell it to.”
Mr Madden added: “I’m not saying it should have happened, or that it shouldn’t have happened, I’m not saying any of that. If they want I can send the script to them and they can have a read of it to see what they think. It’s dealing with a delicate subject so it’s always going to rub someone up the wrong way.”
In a video to promote the fundraising effort, Mr Madden says: “Boat Boy is not a politically motivated film. It is the coming of age story of Paul Maxwell and how in the summer of ‘79 he takes his first steps into becoming a responsible young adult with his first summer job. I wanted to show that, even in times of war, life must go on, and when I came across the story of Paul Maxwell I thought it was a really interesting way to express that idea.
“Paul Maxwell tragically lost his life in an act of war. It is in this fatal climax that we are reminded that not all casualties of that are soldiers.”
Kenny Donaldson of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) accepted that the film could prove to be “extremely powerful,” but said some of the language being used was unacceptable.
“What happened in Mullaghmore, Sligo was an act of terrorism, an act of cold and brutal murder, an act of cowardice – it was not an act of war,” he said.
“If the narrative is not accurate to the reality of events then the film’s potential for good is thwarted. If it was a war then senior members of the republican movement, who now wear suits, and others who don’t belong to that elite, plus many others would be up in The Hague for serious war crimes.”
Paul’s mother Mary Hornsey said she has been “taken aback” in the past when her son’s murder has been the subject of press or television coverage without prior warning to the family.
“That can come as an awful shock to people,” Ms Hornsey said.
Ms Hornsey revealed that she was never quite comfortable in the Mullaghmore cottage, and had reservations about Paul taking the Mountbatten job due to the security risk.
“I was assured that there was going to be a lot of protection on that boat and that is why I said ‘okay then,’ but there wasn’t,” she added.