Northern Ireland news

Confusion over Liam Neeson's hunger striker comments

Liam Neeson has said he knew "a couple" of the 10 men who died during the 1981 hunger strike

LIAM Neeson's comments that he knew "a couple" of the 10 republicans who died on hunger strike have been met with confusion.

During a controversial interview to promote his new film, Cold Pursuit, the Co Antrim-born Hollywood actor sparked a racism row after he claimed he wanted to get revenge on a "black b*****d" after his friend was raped.

Neeson also discussed growing up during the Troubles.

"I come from a society - I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles - and, you know, I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike, and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and I understand that need for revenge, but it just leads to more revenge, to more killing and more killing, and Northern Ireland's proof of that," he said.

The 66-year-old, from Ballymena, did not name which of the hunger strikers he knew.

Strikers Francis Hughes and Thomas McElwee, were from Bellaghy, Co Derry - around 15 miles from Ballymena.

The Irish News contacted several local political representatives about the comments.

Although they all declined to make a formal comment, none knew which of the strikers he was referring.

Neeson performed at Belfast's Lyric Theatre for several years in the 1970s before moving to Dublin and later London in the early 1980s.

It is understood he was living in London during the 1981 hunger strike.

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