Northern Ireland news

Belfast-born actor Stephen Rea 'would like to see north joining the Republic'

Actor Stephen Rea, right, with presenter Miriam O'Callaghan, centre, Belfast playwrights Marie Jones and Martin Lynch, and folk singer Sara Ryan
Mairead Holland

A BELFAST born actor has said he would like to see the north joining the Republic and that England "can go and chase themselves".

Stephen Rea made the comment on yesterday's RTÉ Radio 1 programme Sunday with Miriam.

The 72-year-old stage and screen actor was being interviewed ahead of the forthcoming Dublin Theatre Festival where he is being honoured for his outstanding contribution.

Mr Rea, who has appeared in films including the Crying Game and TV series The Shadow Line, was discussing Brexit with host Miriam O'Callagahan.

She asked if Brexit had implications for the creative part of Ireland.

He replied: "It has always been a struggle for people here. Let's be honest, independence hasn't been that long. Certainly, the British are so careless of anything that happens to people on this island.

"They are willing to do anything to secure the votes of the DUP who, let's face it, are not the most forward-looking people around.

"It's a mess... In some ways I am quite happy, I want to see Scotland independent, I want to see the north joining with the Republic and England can go and chase themselves."

The father-of-two also said that if there was a second referendum "and we had an open border once more everything would be much better, everybody would start to behave well again, wouldn't they?"

He said the Brexit outcome of 52 per cent wasn't a great vote "cos that meant 48 per cent didn't".

"They are not represented at all in that," he added.

Mr Rea said he believed we have entered "a world of fascism" where "we are being driven by mad people", alluding to US president Donald Trump and Brexit.

The actor, whose north Belfast dad was a bus driver, also recalled taking part in a Brian Friel version of the Three Sisters play in the Guildhall, Derry.

"On the opening night the British Army flew over the Guildhall and drowned out the sound of the play. So I just realised then that art is important cos the military don't want you to hear it," he said.

Asked about his interest in acting and his family background, Mr Rea recalled how his mother wouldn't buy a TV and that he had to go to the library ever Saturday morning and get three books.

But the acting "came from within" he said, describing himself as a "ghastly show-off" when he was a child.

"Young boys' job is to entertain their mother and that's what I did," he added.

The radio show also featured Belfast playwrights Marie Jones and Martin Lynch.

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