By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — Unionists have lashed out at film star Brad Pitt for blaming Britain for Ireland’s troubles during the course of an interview with Esquire magazine.
Jim Shannon, a member of the Rev. Ian Paisley’s DUP, and a member of the Stormont Assembly’s Committee on Arts and Culture, branded the star’s comments "deeply offensive."
"It seems that maybe his movie roles have clouded Brad Pitt’s sense of reality," Shannon said. "For many of us in the Unionist tradition these comments are unfortunate, untruthful and indeed deeply offensive."
Shannon was speaking after Pitt called on the British government to right the wrongs it had inflicted on Northern Ireland. Speaking about the Troubles he said: "What I want know is why the British Empire is promoting this pain? Why can’t the empire make right its wrong?"
The row is the latest twist in the star’s stormy relationship with the North. His sympathetic portrayal of an IRA man in "The Devil’s Own" also provoked furious reaction from unionists.
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Pitt, who took the role of IRA gun-runner Frankie Maguire, starred alongside Harrison Ford in the movie, which sparked a wave of controversy at the time.
He spent several months in Belfast perfecting his accent and is believed to have made a number of further visits to Northern Ireland.
The interview with Esquire was part of a promotional tour for the new Guy Ritchie movie "Snatch" in which Pitt plays another Irish role, that of a loveable Irish traveler.