Belfast Telegraph

Taken star Liam Neeson set to produce film about IRA sniper

Ukip councillor 'deeply hurt' to learn reports of Neeson's new project

By Staff Reporter

A Ukip councillor has said he finds it "deeply hurtful" that Ballymena born actor Liam Neeson is set to bring a novel about a republican terrorist to the big screen.

The Co-Antrim star is to co-produce A Mad and Wonderful Thing, the debut novel by Mark Mulholland.

Set in Mulholland's home town Dundalk, the adaptation of the 2014 book could prove controversial, as it tells the fictional story of IRA sniper Johnny Donnelly.

In 1999, Mulholland's own brother - Queen's University physics student Darren - was sentenced to 22 years for conspiracy to cause Real IRA explosions in London.

"Then my brother actually became a Johnny Donnelly. Not really, but kind of. He caught me blindsided. So there you go," he said.

The author said Neeson was key to getting the work filmed, adding: "This will be Liam's first film to include a role behind the camera. Some months ago I suggested he may like to make the film himself. Madly enough, he said yes."

Henry Reilly, councillor for Newry and Mourne and Down, reacted angrily to the reports.

He said: "It is deeply hurtful to learn that Liam Neeson who is much loved by all of the Northern Ireland public is to be involved in a film that glamorises an IRA terrorist using a lethal Barrett 50 cal rifle to kill Police and Army here.

"This move will open old wounds that have never really healed and further demonise the Protestant community here on the world stage by portraying them as occupiers in the Republican narrative."

Mr Reilly called for "balance" in the film.

He added: "If Mr Neeson is determined to produce a film on IRA activity along the border it should be balanced and show the results of IRA violence and how it devastated isolated and vulnerable Protestant communities in the border areas."

This is not the first time Neeson has tackled the difficult topic of the Troubles.

He previously starred alongside James Nesbitt in a powerful Troubles drama called Five Minutes of Heaven.

The film centres on the story of UVF member Alistair Little who murdered 19-year-old Catholic Jim Griffin in 1975. The murder was witnessed by Griffin’s 11-year-old brother Joe.

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