Liam Neeson has made a reputation as an actor in many well known movies during the last 20 years or more. I never rated him as an actor. I also have problems with his well publicised support for the integrated education system here in the six counties. He had chosen to live in New York far away from the place in which he was born and reared and was completely out of touch with the situation here. On a number of occasions he made public utterances pontificating about integrated education as the only way forward in the north. I am in favour of shared education but I believe integrated education is a complete failure.
Neeson has now hit the headlines over remarks he made about going out armed with ‘a cosh’ to kill the “Black *******.” who was responsible for raping his woman friend. The whole thing is preposterous but it appears to reveal that Neeson, like so many from Ireland living in New York, is a racist. I know many Irish racists from my experience of living in New York in the early 1980s and from many visits to many parts of the United States over the years. It is a sad fact that many Irish in the USA are the most racist you will ever meet. They talk about African- Americans using the ‘N’ word and South Americans using the ‘S’ word. I was shocked the first time I heard a woman from Fermanagh using this kind of language. Sadly, she was not the only one I heard speaking in disparaging terms about those living in the borough of Queens in New York who were not Irish. I often wondered how people especially from the north who had experienced discrimination could be so discriminatory towards those who had a different colour of skin or came from a different part of the world.
Liam Neeson has revealed a great deal about the kind of beliefs he holds in common with many from the Irish community in New York. He speaks about the need for revenge and refers to the republican hunger strikers and other acquaintances in the same sentence. He reveals his superficial understanding of the politics of the north and the struggle for justice and human dignity in Long Kesh.
I am glad he has come out and shown the kind of man he is and the racism that is so prevalent within the Irish-American community. He may say that he is ashamed now of what he did but he has not come out strongly enough to condemn racism and especially the racism of Irish Americans. Neeson deserves all the condemnation he receives. Hardly an ambassador for the new Ireland.