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Newstalk

13.56 16 Apr 2016


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Speaking to Newstalk's Philip Molloy on The Picture Show on Saturday, actor Gabriel Byrne gave his take on the current political crisis that has seen Ireland stuck without a government for 50 days

Bryne is no stranger to the vicissitudes of politics, as he was appointed Ireland's first cultural ambassador back in 2010 by Brian Cowen.

He stated that he felt Cultural Ireland were on course to accomplishing a great deal, saying that "I took basically a year and a half out of my career because I felt that it was really important that the people in Ireland have access to America, and that American audiences have access to the reality of what Irish culture is."

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"I wanted to try and build a connection between Ireland and America, culturally, and to a great extent that succeeded," added Byrne.

"We were essentially let down by the government and [...] it was my first glimpse into the world of how politics actually works. I don't think the government gave a toss for culture or the arts, and I still don't think they do".

"Whether it's painting or cinema or theatre, culture should be incorporated into our lives and become a part of it. But I don't think government considers it to be important at all, and I actually stopped believing that they ever will unless there's a quick photo-op in it". 

Turning his attention to the centenary celebrations which took place over the Easter weekend, Byrne stated that "leading up to it I found it disconcerting that everyone was fighting to control the narrative for their own narrow end." 

Byrne highlighted that he felt it was a shame that, after the economic collapse of 2008 and the growing dissatisfaction among the people with the system of governance that "an alternative political will failed to coalesce, and that anger and that marginalisation that people have was not harnessed into a concerted positive action. So now, five years later, we have the same Tweedledum and Tweedledee situation where we're asked to choose between people with different colour ties, essentially". 

Byrne also stated that while he felt that Ireland had come a long way since 1916, there was still a long way to go, and that meant it was time to start "looking at the notion of what a democracy is [...] it doesn't mean ruling the people with a small minority of people".

You can hear the full interview with Gabriel Byrne on The Picture Show on Saturday from 6pm. 


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