Colm Meaney on the DUP and Brexit: "I think they've shot themselves in the foot"
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"Supporting Brexit was an extraordinary error. It makes absolutely no economic sense."
To begin with, we get it.
Actors love to pontificate and share their political views with the public; there are plenty not shy of doing so and some of those views have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
However, in the case of Colm Meaney, the star of Con Air and The Barrytown Trilogy is a voice worth listening to.
Throughout his career, Meaney has been an outspoken supporter of Sinn Féin and while he's not currently a member, he has stated that he joined the party when he was a teenager.
In 2011, the actor even campaigned for Martin McGuinness in his run for the Irish presidency. Five years later, Meaney played the former deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland in Nick Hamm's film, The Journey.
That film was released just four months before power-sharing in Stormont collapsed. Since then, Northern Ireland has been unable to form a new government, although some politicians gathered in October to speak against the introduction of abortion and same-sex marriage legislation in Northern Ireland.
Ahead of the release of his new film, The Last Right, in Irish cinemas on 6 December, Meaney sat down with JOE for a discussion about his career and the topic inevitably switched to his views on the current state of Irish politics.
When asked about the fact that Northern Ireland currently holds the world record for the longest period without a sitting government, Meaney had some choice words for the DUP.
"It's a crazy situation," Meaney told JOE.
"I’m of a Republican persuasion, I always was, and I find it ironic when we get lectured about democracy by people - for example, the DUP - who basically ran an apartheid state in the north of Ireland for 50 years.
"Then, when people went out to demonstrate for civil rights in a peaceful way, they were beaten off the streets by these same people - which caused the escalation of the whole thing. We forget that in the south. We think of the IRA campaign as a campaign of murder and all that - and I wasn’t a supporter of that, I would have been of an official persuasion, the official Sinn Féin line - but I mean, in the Republic, we forget that it began as a civil rights movement.
"People demanding their civil rights. They didn’t have civil rights, it was an apartheid state - the north of Ireland. These are the same people who then lecture everybody about democracy, it’s absurd. It’s like the world turned on its head. I find it bizarre. I think the DUP are in trouble. I think they’ve shot themselves in the foot."
Given the DUP's position as kingmakers following the last UK General Election, the Arlene Foster-led party adhered to a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Conservative government in return for a hefty financial boost.
However, the DUP were rigid in their views on Brexit, the single-market and their wish to remove the backstop.
Unsurprisingly, they've rejected the deal that Boris Johnson has since agreed with EU leaders.
Again, it's worth stating that Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU during the Brexit referendum. Remain edged the vote by 55.77% and Meaney believes that the DUP's stance on Brexit and remaining in the UK is deeply flawed.
"You know, supporting Brexit was an extraordinary error," he said.
"It makes absolutely no economic sense. They had the best of both worlds. You know, access to EU markets and UK markets. And also, to suggest that anything that causes a separation between the north of Ireland and the UK? There’s lots of things that separate them. Including their ban on abortion and gay marriage - which the DUP won’t have - even though it’s legal in the rest of the UK. Isn’t that a difference, or creating a border?
"The inconsistencies in the position are just… You know, I believe that successive governments here and people in the south have bent over backwards to facilitate the Unionist position and I don’t think it has been reciprocated. If it’s not reciprocated, there’s no movement forward," he added.
Meaney's new film, The Last Right, is released in Irish cinemas on 6 December.
Take a look at what's in store.
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