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Video: The Journey - Colm Meaney and Timothy Spall reflect on their roles in Paisley-McGuinness film


The stars of The Journey have been reflecting on playing political heavyweights Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, as the film premieres in Belfast.

Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney take centre-stage in what is billed as a fictional account of the extraordinary real-life relationship between the late DUP and Sinn Féin figureheads.

Few could have imagined that an unlikely working relationship born of necessity would evolve into actual friendship between the firebrand preacher and the one-time IRA commander.

Colm Meaney has spoken about how he never supported the use of violence, despite being a member of Sinn Fein briefly in the 1960s.

The Dubliner said he had left the republican movement even before the split which led to the formation of the Provisionals.

And he made clear he would never have supported the IRA's campaign of violence - even though he could understand why the recently deceased former deputy first minister had joined up.

"My political instincts at that time would have been partly sympathetic to a united Ireland and I could certainly understand where Martin McGuinness was coming from - but I would have been totally opposed to the campaign of violence," he said.

He added: "During the 1970s I would have wanted republicans to go into negotiations, which is what they ended up doing in the '90s anyway."

Timothy Spall said that before he was offered the part, he would have regarded Paisley as an "uncompromising, even slightly frightening" figure, prepared to say things which appeared very divisive.

"My view was affected by what I could see on the television screen but I took my mind off Northern Ireland for quite some time for some reason and then I saw Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness laughing together and I was very intrigued, to say the least," he said.

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