Belfast Telegraph

Trump just like Ian Paisley, says controversial Belfast playwright

Comparison: David Ireland
Comparison: David Ireland
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A Belfast playwright who is no stranger to controversy has said a modern day version of Ian Paisley is now running America.

Speaking as his play Cyprus Avenue enjoys a reprisal at the Royal Court Theatre in London, Sandy Row-born David Ireland compared US President Donald Trump to the former First Minister.

He added that "if Paisley had been American and had a Twitter account I think it would all have been in block capitals".

Ireland's play about a Belfast loyalist had enjoyed a critically acclaimed run in New York and is a comic examination of sectarian hatred.

It has been described as the most shocking play in London and didn't reach the stage until three years after it had been written. Lawyers had been concerned about Gerry Adams' possible reaction, as EU privacy and image legislation raised questions about whether a living individual can be dramatically depicted without their permission, which the former Sinn Fein leader was unlikely to give.

The main character depicts a loyalist who's convinced unionism is being destroyed. His dementia reaches such a level that he believes his five-week-old granddaughter to be Adams.

Ireland told The Guardian: "I don't know all the legal ins and outs. But then I only expected the play to be on for a couple of weeks in Dublin. I thought he was unlikely to come after us. Maybe he will now!"

Ireland, who appeared in front of the camera with two lines in the first episode of Derry Girls, also admitted he's conflicted by his Irish accent.

"When I was 15 or 16, I went to this drama course in Cambridge, and it was the first time anyone had ever called me Irish. I got such a shock," he said.

"It was a guy from Yorkshire, so I thought he must think I'm from Dublin. But when I said I came from Northern Ireland, all these English kids still called me Irish. That was very strange.

"It was odd for my generation of Ulster unionists because, at the time of Riverdance and Liam Neeson, Irishness suddenly became cool. So people would want me to be Irish. Girls would say, 'Ooh, I love your Irish accent', and I'd say, 'I'm not Irish!' So you can see the conflict."

The play has also been performed in Belfast and Dublin and the climax is so brutal that some audience members walked out.

"Some people think that I like offending audiences. But I don't," said Ireland.

"Well, I suppose that, subconsciously, I may want to upset people, or I wouldn't write the things I write but I'd rather that people who were going to be offended stayed away."

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