Queen’s University, Belfast has declined to say why Northern Ireland actor Liam Neeson has been removed from its latest undergraduate prospectus.
The Ballymena man features in the 2018 and 2019 versions of the university’s prospectus in the ‘Heritage and Heroes’ section, but his image and details have been removed from the 2020 prospectus.
The story was broken on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show, which claimed there had been “an instruction” given to remove Mr Neeson from the publication.
The programme suggested that QUB may have been trying to distance itself from the race row sparked by Mr Neeson’s comments about wanting to kill a black man in revenge for a friend being raped by a black man.
Although Mr Neeson was admitting to “primal” feelings he had 40 years ago, and stressed that he was ashamed of how he had felt and acted, some people branded him a racist.
The 66-year-old denied being a racist and said he would have felt the same if his friend’s attacker had been white – “an Irish or a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian,” he said.
He said he wanted his original comments to start a wider conversation about racism.
Mr Neeson’s picture appears in the ‘Heritage and Heroes’ section of the 2019 undergraduate prospectus alongside other noteworthy alumni such as poet Seamus Heaney, former Irish president Mary McAleese and Prof Frank Pantridge, the inventor of the portable defibrillator.
“As the UK’s 9th oldest University, our history is rich with brilliant leaders, inspiring thinkers and incredible achievers who have been shaping a better world since 1845,” the prospectus states.
Under the heading ‘AWARD-WINNING ACTOR’, it says: “Hollywood actor Liam Neeson, OBE was first a Physics and Computer Science undergraduate at Queen’s in 1971 before receiving his honorary doctorate in 2009. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Schindler’s List.”
The same celebrated alumni feature in the 2020 version of the document – all except Mr Neeson, the star of the Taken movies, whose details and picture have been removed.
Writer and commentator Ruth Dudley Edwards said there had been an “utterly pathetic” reaction to Mr Neeson’s honest comments.
She described the situation as “awful” and said Mr Neeson shouldn’t have been removed from the prospectus.
The News Letter asked Queen’s for comment, but despite several attempts to get a response the university hadn’t replied at the time of writing.