Robinson and McGuinness praised for securing TV saga
Award-winning actor Liam Cunningham has paid tribute to Peter Robinson and the late Martin McGuinness for their efforts in securing Northern Ireland as the principal location for the smash hit Game of Thrones saga.
And the Dubliner, who plays the principled mariner Davos Seaworth, believes the epic fantasy series will still be attracting viewers in 100 years' time.
"Game of Thrones has been a peace dividend for Northern Ireland," he said. "Peter and Martin worked tirelessly to get the show here and it paid off.
"It is a great news story for this place - the tourists are filling the streets and other productions are rushing to get here.
"There is such a mix of religions, races and creeds on the show and it has been brilliant to see the local film crew and production staff developing and maturing to become as good as the pros in Hollywood.
"They are as good as anyone I ever worked with and they have been a part in something at the forefront of the golden age of television, that people will watch a century from now."
Paying tribute to his fellow Irish actor and Game of Thrones star Aiden Gillen (Little Finger) and local cast members Richard Dormer, Ian Beattie, Conleth Hill and Ian McIlhatton, Cunningham said the cast was finding the idea of the show ending "very weird".
A familiar face from TV dramas as far back as Cracker, Cunningham (56) also noted the changes and progress he has witnessed in Northern Ireland in the 10 years since production began here.
"Northern Ireland has been my home for the last decade, so I see the positive effect for the country and its economy, and its hugely gratifying," he said.
"It's a wonderful place. I'm so glad the tourists are coming to see the locations and all the other wonderful things they may not have discovered otherwise."
The seventh season of Game of Thrones returns to Sky Atlantic on Monday, July 17.