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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Byrne urges us to challenge leaders in wake of charity row

Kirsty Blake Knox

Published 25/01/2014 | 02:30

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Gabriel Byrne - pictured in The Vikings - see story by Kristy Blake Knox
Gabriel Byrne - pictured in The Vikings.

OUTSPOKEN actor Gabriel Byrne has waded into the high-profile charity scandal claiming he was not surprised by the recent controversy.

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Mr Byrne called for more transparency in all aspects of public life and urged Irish people to step up and challenge individuals who claimed to be in positions of power.

The reputations of charities have under come fire in recent weeks after the Central Remedial Clinic's top-ups and bonuses to some higher-level executives were revealed and it emerged that Rehab's lottery scratch card game, which sold almost €4m worth of tickets in 2010, made less than €10,000 in profit.

The actor believes the Irish people should challenge individuals more as the public did have power. "All these individuals are servants of the people," he added.

"They are not the boss. Just because we call you minister or Taoiseach or CEO or whatever doesn't mean you're not accountable," he said.

The actor is known for his forthright opinions, having previously dismissed The Gathering as a "shake down" and labelled the Catholic Church as "Taliban- like".

He hopes his upcoming BBC drama 'Quirke' will help people understand the politics and stigma of 1950s Ireland.

"It was a place of repression and secrecy," he said. "The country was ruled with a rod of iron by the church and the State.

The Irish Constitution was partially drawn up by that tyrant Archbishop Charles McQuaid, he said.

"The church had enormous power – all liberality was quashed, sex was viewed as the work of the devil, young women who had children outside of wedlock were considered pariah."

Byrne said that history had affected the Ireland of today.

He is considered one of Ireland's most erudite actors but says his strong opinions have little to do with his formal education.

"I started my education when I left school," he added.

"You're taught one viewpoint and asked to repeat it under extreme pressure in an exam situation. How does that work? It just inculcates a one dimensional view of the world. You have to educate yourself."

He will appear tomorrow as Earl Heraldson in the brutal TV series 'The Vikings'. It has received rave reviews for its swash-buckling bravado and fight scenes, but the actor says there is a depth to it.

Irish Independent

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