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The Good High-Day Agreement: Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh claims rise of ecstasy saw teens shun terror groups

Trainspotting author's bizarre claim rise of ecstasy saw teens shun terror groups

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Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh in Iveagh Gardens.

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh in Iveagh Gardens.

Tony Gavin

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh in Iveagh Gardens.

Nineties drug culture was the real reason the Good Friday Agreement happened, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has bizarrely claimed.

Former heroin addict Irvine says working class youths formerly vulnerable to recruitment into the IRA and UVF became so obsessed with taking ecstasy, clubbing and having sex that paramilitary bosses failed to inspire them to join their ranks and mount headline-grabbing terror attacks.

Irvine (61) claimed local politicians from both sides of Northern Ireland's divide gave him some surprising stories about how the Good Friday Agreement - signed 22 years ago this month - came about.

Interviewed for the new paperback edition of the book Don't Look Back In Anger, the Edinburgh-born author said: "Tony Blair swans around taking credit for the Good Friday Agreement, but it was about ecstasy.

"I've spoken to nationalist and loyalist politicians who say a whole generation of kids were taken out of the IRA and UVF because they were dancing in fields. They couldn't recruit - although at raves they would still go to their respective community leader's dealer in each corner - because they'd all be dancing together.

"They were forced to a solution because nobody wanted to get involved in terrorism."

The writer added class A drug ecstasy also opened up more possibilities for sex, which he said also distracted working class clubbers.

He added: "When ecstasy came into working class communities, it changed a lot of the narratives.

"Beforehand, men and women didn't really mix. It was like sexual apartheid.

"Where I grew up the girls would be in the lounge bar and the guys would be in the public bar. You'd meet in the disco.

"You'd sit with your mates drinking. And the girls would be with their mates dancing round their handbags. The last dance, everybody would just pile on.

"When I started taking ecstasy, all these women I'd known for ages, but not known at all because they were just the girlfriends or the wife of your mates - I suddenly realised that they were much more f*****g interesting than their partners.

"I got a proper relationship with women for the first time. Everything was breaking down.

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (right) former US Senator George Mitchell (centre) and former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (left) smiling after they signed the historic agreement for peace in Northern Ireland.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (right) former US Senator George Mitchell (centre) and former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (left) smiling after they signed the historic agreement for peace in Northern Ireland.

PA

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (right) former US Senator George Mitchell (centre) and former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (left) smiling after they signed the historic agreement for peace in Northern Ireland.

"People had a duty to go clubbing. If you're enjoying yourself and you're getting the most out of life, it doesn't matter what your economic circumstances are, as long as you're having fun and you're having a good time."

Irvine, whose book Trainspotting about working class heroin addicts became a Britpop emblem, has become outspoken in the last decade about his political views on everything from Scottish independence to Brexit. He has slammed the UK government as "twats" for the response to Covid-19 and last Wednesday joined BBC DJ Edith Bowman's For The Love Of Scotland benefit gig to raise cash for frontline NHS workers' personal protection equipment (PPE).

His book Trainspotting became an international bestseller after it was published in 1993.

It made him part of the 'Cool Britannia' scene that fuelled the rise of Tony Blair's New Labour, and was turned into a phenomenally successful film by Danny Boyle starring Ewan McGregor.

But twice-divorced Irvine - who lives with his current partner in Chicago and now restricts himself to a bottle of expensive red wine and the occasional trip on hallucinogenic drug DMT - said fame wasn't good for his career, as he constantly wanted to go out and spend his cash on getting hammered. "Suddenly I had all this acclaim and it's not a good thing, the whole trappings of fame and celebrity," he said.

"I would be in my garret typing and be thinking, 'Why am I doing this, sitting around in this boring f*****g house?

"I'm famous, I should be going out and s******g everything in sight and taking every drug I can get my hands on. So I would do that for a couple of weeks then I would come back and think, 'No, I'm a serious artist.' I was always struggling with that duality."

Belfast Telegraph