McGuinness-Paisley movie premiers in Belfast

The Journey stars Timothy Spall as Ian Paisley and Colm Meaney who plays Martin McGuinness
The Journey stars Timothy Spall as Ian Paisley and Colm Meaney who plays Martin McGuinness

A new film about the relationship between Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness will have its UK and Ireland premiere in Belfast on Thursday May 4.

The event, sponsored by the Movie House Cinemas on the Dublin Road in Belfast, will be attended by lead actors Timothy Spall, who plays Paisley, and Colm Meaney who plays McGuinness, as well as director Nick Hamm and Co Down writer, Colin Bateman.

The dramatic comedy was inspired by a major turning point in British and Irish history.

Belfast-born Hamm was intrigued by the relationship between the two men and asked Bateman to come up with a story about a journey that the two political titans took together.

Mr Hamm said: “I knew that in those early days of St. Andrews, McGuinness and Paisley had shared a private jet and I thought this story simply had to be told. I asked Colin to fictionalise the event and his witty and dark sense of humour has really brought this very surreal story to life.”

Belfast Film Festival director, Michele Devlin, said: “We all think we know the story of how two such bitter political rivals ended up leading the country, earning each other’s respect and the nickname ‘the Chuckle Brothers’.

“But The Journey sheds new light on the early days of this once fractious relationship that, slowly and stumbling at first, evolved into a model of statesmanship that defied the odds.”

In the film, enmity simmers between the two men at the St Andrews talks and as part of a security protocol to protect both men, McGuinness insists on travelling with Paisley and the two men sit in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven car, bound for the airport.

Little does Paisley realise that the driver Jack (Freddie Highmore) works for MI5 and the car is fitted with surveillance equipment that allows Tony Blair (Toby Stephens) and various officials to eavesdrop on the conversation.

The film is in cinemas nationwide from Friday.