New film 'may give IRA dissidents ammunition'

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One of Ireland's foremost historians has warned that a Hollywood take on the 1916 Easter Rising might be exploited by dissident republicans in their campaign against the peace process.

Easter Sixteen stars Guy Pearce as James Connolly, the Irish Marxist who took part in the rising and was executed at Dublin's Kilmainham jail, and Ian Hart as Thomas Clarke, another key figure in the uprising.

Paul Bew, a professor of Irish politics and a leading historian, has expressed concern that unless the complexities of the Rising are explained, the simple message that a dedicated minority can use violence will encourage present-day dissidents.

Hollywood's last major examination of early 20th-century Irish history dealt with Michael Collins, the revolutionary who ran the war of independence against the British, including fighting in the 1916 Rising. Michael Collins, which starred Liam Neeson, was criticised by some historians, who alleged that it contained inaccuracies such as the use of a car bomb to kill a number of police officers brought into Dublin from Belfast. The car bomb was not used as a weapon by armed republicans until the 1970s.

Nicola Charles, the producer of Easter Sixteen, which has a $25m budget, has defended the project and denied that Brendan Foley's script romanticises violence. She also revealed that there were six other scripts floating around Hollywood about the rebellion. "It's a film that has to be made and Foley has spent 14 years working on the script", she said.

"The film is really the prequel to Michael Collins. Our final scene is their opening scene. It's a human interest story and in no way does it glorify violence. It's not about violence and revolution, it's about hope and heroism."..

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