Ken Loach among TV and film figures backing John Finucane for North Belfast
AWARD-winning film director Ken Loach, Game of Thrones star Ciarán Hinds and screenwriter Ronan Bennett have endorsed Sinn Féin North Belfast candidate John Finucane.
The Belfast lord mayor is hoping that backing from the three well-known figures in the arts will aid his efforts to oust DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who has held the Westminster seat for nearly two decades.
The SDLP and Ulster Unionists have withdrawn from the contest to help the prospects of Mr Finucane and Mr Dodds, respectively.
The only other candidate is Nuala McAllister of the Alliance Party.
Mr Loach, who is known for his hard-hitting, realist depictions of working class life, described Mr Finucane as a "fine candidate" with "great principles".
Belfast-born Mr Hinds, who played a lead role in the Oscar-winning short film The Shore, said he was a "huge believer in the European Union".
"This election is about securing a European future for our children and grandchildren, and in this unique election that means voting for the pro-European candidate most likely to win – if I were living back in North Belfast, I would have no hesitation in voting for John Finucane," he said.
Mr Bennett, whose recent Channel 4 project Top Boy has been widely praised, also described the Sinn Féin candidate as an "inclusive, open and exemplary lord mayor of Belfast" and criticised the DUP's performance at Westminster.
The DUP last night declined to comment.