Northern Ireland news

James Nesbitt pays tribute to Ivan Cooper's 'courage'

Ivan Cooper met up with James Nesbitt in Derry's Bogside when the actor was playing the politician in the 2002 film, "Bloody Sunday". Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

ACTOR James Nesbitt, who played Ivan Cooper in the 2002 film Bloody Sunday, has paid tribute to the civil rights campaignr's “startling courage and conviction”.

The Coleraine-born star of TV series Cold Feet said Mr Cooper passionately believed in equality for all.

“He was a Protestant politician in the 1970s who loved where he came from but was also brave enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with people of all faiths and convictions to fight for civil rights in Ireland,” he said.

Nesbitt added: “Playing him in Bloody Sunday was a privilege and also a huge responsibility. Professionally it changed my life. It made me appreciate for the first time what could be achieved through my job and for that I will always be thankful.”

Mr Cooper was a “sparkly man” and a teller of tall stories who was a remarkably funny and “extremely charming" man,” Mr Nesbitt said.

“His impact on the peace process should never be underestimated. I am proud to have known him and honoured to have portrayed him on screen.

“He was a courageous man with a brilliant mind who possessed the rarest of qualities, humanity and the inherent instinct that his hero Martin Luther King possessed, that every person is born equal. His legacy is hue, if only more politicians were like him now, not only Northern Ireland but the world wold be in a better place,” Mr Nesbitt said.

Read more: Ivan Cooper 'was born to break the mould'

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