Film risks ‘romanticising’ IRA terrorism: IVU

Belfast born actor, Martin McCann, plays one of the lead characters in 'Maze'.
Belfast born actor, Martin McCann, plays one of the lead characters in 'Maze'.

A group representing victims of terrorism has urged the film industry not to romanticise those who “caused death and destruction” as a trailer for a new movie about the Maze prison escape is released.

Two prison officers were shot and a number were viciously assaulted as 38 IRA inmates escaped from the high-security jail near Lisburn in 1983.

Although the two warders with gunshot wounds survived, another who was stabbed during the breakout, James Ferris, died of a heart attack.

The new film ‘Maze’ is a Lionsgate production starring ‘Love/Hate’ star Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. Lionsgate also produced Oscar-winning films such as The Hunger Games and The Hurt Locker.

Having viewed the trailer, Innocent Victims United (IVU) spokesman Kenny Donaldson said he feared the movie would aid the republican movement in its “incessant drive to decriminalise its campaign of terrorism”.

He said: “The Maze escape may be viewed a triumph for republican folklore, but for the family of James Ferris and so many other prison officers it most certainly was not.

“The terrorists in escaping used guns, they stabbed and also mercilessly beat prison officers as they made their escape. Many of those who escaped that day went on in later times to commit further acts of terrorism against their neighbours”.

Mr Donaldson added: The reality is that those who escaped from the Maze in 1983 were convicted terrorists, they were not imprisoned because of their political aspirations. The filming world needs to take a long hard look at itself and the type of projects it becomes embroiled with. Where are the films which chart the devastation caused by terrorism to innocents?”

Maze is due for release on September 22.

• In February this year, Sinn Féin MLA and Maze escapee Gerry Kelly faced criticism after tweeting that a book he wrote about the escape would make a good Valentine’s Day present.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said the “tasteless” message showed that Sinn Fein are struggling with the concept of truth and reconciliation – and understanding “the huge legacy of hurt caused by the IRA’s terrorist actions”.