John Barnes: ‘Liam Neeson deserves a medal for admitting he was wrong’

Liam NeesonLiam Neeson
Liam Neeson
Former England footballer John Barnes has said Liam Neeson “deserves a medal” for saying he is “ashamed” of wanting to kill a black person.

Liam Neeson, who is from Nortrhern Ireland, told the Independent newspaper he once walked the streets armed with a weapon looking to kill a “black b*****d” after someone close to him was raped by a black person many years ago.

He had been discussing his upcoming film Cold Pursuit, in which he portrays a father on a quest for revenge after his son was killed.

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The Ballymena-born actor, referring to his “immediate reaction” after learning his friend had been raped by a black person, said: “I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody. I’m ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week – hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”

He added: “It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that.”
Distinguished former footballer John Barnes, who was subjected to racist abuse during his career, has defended the actor in an interview with Sky News.

“I believe Liam Neeson deserves a medal,” he said. “I’ll tell you why. I’ve listened to the whole transcript. Liam Neeson was talking about his film, Revenge, and he was talking about how revenge doesn’t do anyone any good.

“He mentions the fact that, being brought up in Northern Ireland, he understands how destructive that can be. He went on to tell a story of a situation whereby a friend of his had been raped. Now, if you listen to everything he’s talking about, he’s talking about ‘in the moment’.

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“And you can’t blame Liam Neeson for thinking what he feels because - and this is a while ago - this is what society has shown him that black people do, Muslims do.

“This is what society has wrongly shown him, this is what the media have wrongly portrayed to him so in that moment he said for a week he was going around looking to kill a black person.”

He continued: “Now, what he actually went on to say is he was ashamed and horrified by the way he felt.

“He’s not ashamed and horrified of wanting to commit the act of revenge, he is ashamed and horrified because that is what he thought about all black people.”

Mr Barnes added: “Liam Neeson — someone who admits after a week-and-a-half of thinking what he thought that he was wrong, which is fine as far as I’m concerned — we’re now pillorying him.”