Belfast Telegraph

Game of Thrones author RR Martin on Brexit, threat of violence and how Northern Ireland can attract more films

Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

The author behind the globally successful Game Of Thrones television series, which has brought tens of thousands of visitors to Northern Ireland, has said tourism here "is going to go right in the toilet" if people see bombs and shootings in the news again.

George RR Martin also hinted that tax incentives introduced by Peter Robinson and the late Martin McGuinness could mean Game Of Thrones-linked filming could return here - if the tax breaks still apply.

Filming for a prequel to the fantasy drama, which will star Naomi Watts, took place here and is now in the pre-production phase.

Martin, or the 'Father of Dragons' as he is fondly known, also teased fans with the promise that a "couple" of other shows set in Westeros are currently at the script stage.

The author of the A Song Of Ice And Fire saga was speaking at last night's 'Return to Winterfell: An evening with George RR Martin' event at Castle Ward in Strangford.

Fans got a unique chance to meet Mr Martin and discuss their Game Of Thrones theories, while listening to the man behind iconic characters such as Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister.

Reflecting on the tourism and economic benefits Game Of Thrones brought to Northern Ireland, Mr Martin believes they will continue long into the future.

"You look at other shows out there and you can still go to New York City and do the Seinfeld tour, and that ended 10 years ago," he said.

"If the new shows also shoot here then that will reinforce it, certainly.

"I keep hearing about Brexit and what effect is it going to have?

"Is there going to be a hard border? Is there going to be a return to violence?

"If people are reading in the newspapers about people being blown up or shot then tourism is going to go right in the toilet, so you can't go back to that."

One of the major factors in bringing Game Of Thrones to Northern Ireland all those years ago was the generous tax relief package offered by former First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness. When asked if the show had catapulted the province to one of the top filming locations in the world, Mr Martin stated that the same benefits must be made available once again.

George RR Martin
George RR Martin

"Money from film and television is often very good for a city or country and there's a lot of people that want it so they offer various tax incentives to go here or there," he explained.

"We chose Northern Ireland for a variety of these reasons, but one of them was that we got a very attractive deal from Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

"They flew together to Hollywood and made the pitch to HBO and offered a very attractive package of tax incentives.

"If that future package is still there for future shows, it will work."

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