Road closure for McGuinness and Paisley film justified on jobs and revenue generation grounds: PSNI

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The closure of a Co. Down road for the filming of ‘The Journey’ - the 2016 film focusing on the relationship between the late Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley - was justified, the PSNI have stated.

The force said the closure of the road for the shoot, starring Colm Meaney and Timothy Spall as Mr. McGuinness and Dr. Paisley respectively, was given the green light because it had helped provide employment and generate revenue for the North.

The PSNI issued a response this month to a Freedom of Information request lodged late last year that the closure of a short section of the A20 from Newtownards to Portaferry on October 26, 2015, had caused “great inconvenience to drivers in the Newtownards area”.

Police were asked whether or not the PSNI had received “any money from the private company filming”.

The member of the public who made the inquiry further queried under what law the road was “allowed to be closed for a private company to film”. The PSNI said The Journey Film Productions SPV Ltd. had asked for police assistance in facilitating the production and that police achieved “full cost recovery on this policing operation”.

It was further confirmed that the road was closed under Article 32 of The Road Traffic Regulation (NI) Order 1997.

“PSNI have historically received and considered many requests from private individuals and companies to close roads for many varied purposes, some of which were determined to be valid and worthwhile.

“It could be argued that the making of this film was bringing employment, revenue and increasing the profile of the NI Film Industry as per The Programme for Government,” said the force.