Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness cameo role in The Peacemaker movie

By Noel McAdam

Martin McGuinness is to make a posthumous appearance in a new documentary being screened at the Belfast Film Festival tomorrow.

However, The Peacemaker is not focused on the late Deputy First Minister.

Its subject is author and professor Padraig O'Malley, who played a pivotal role in early contacts between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Documentary director James Demo is in Belfast for the screening at Belfast Cityside cinema tomorrow at 7pm. "Padraig brought Martin and all the chief negotiators to South Africa, including Peter Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson," he said.

"They met with Nelson Mandela a year before the Good Friday Agreement.

"McGuinness calls it 'a groundbreaking moment' in the film.

"Padraig also worked with Martin in Iraq in 2008 and 2009, trying to help the Iraqis come to an agreement."

In the documentary, O'Malley brokers peace using unorthodox methods and dogged determination.

With no formal training in conflict resolution, he argues his talent lies precisely where United Nations envoys and diplomats fail - gaining a person's trust. "Face to face with dogmatic leaders, O'Malley can get them to tell their stories," a spokesman for the film said.

But Demo, in following peacemaker O'Malley through crisis zones from Nigeria to Iraq, also discovers an even more fractious front line - O'Malley's personal life.

"The man who creates meaningful connections for a living returns home to an empty apartment.

"A recovering alcoholic, O'Malley's relationships with partners and an adopted daughter bear the scars of addiction to the bottle and work," the spokesman added.

"Struggling against time, his demons and an exhausting career, can this formidable character find salvation for both the world and himself?"

The first half of the film chronicles O'Malley's major accomplishments, with a lot of previously unseen background material. The second half becomes something "deeply personal and almost heartbreakingly poetic as O'Malley has to come to terms with his own failing health".

Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral of Mr McGuinness last month. He died of a rare degenerative disease that attacks the body's vital organs.

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