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Aidan Gillen on ‘Kin’: We must tell truth about crime and its misery

Love/Hate and Wire star makes return to gangland in new RTÉ series


Kin actor Aidan Gillen at RTÉ's new season launch. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Kin actor Aidan Gillen at RTÉ's new season launch. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Today anchors Maura Derrane and Dáithí Ó Sé. Photo: Miki Barlok

Today anchors Maura Derrane and Dáithí Ó Sé. Photo: Miki Barlok


Kin actor Aidan Gillen at RTÉ's new season launch. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Aidan Gillen, the godfather of Irish crime dramas, has high hopes his latest RTÉ show Kin will be a global hit.

The series follows the lives of a Dublin family embroiled in a ruthless gangland war.

It will be streamed in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Iberia, Latin America and the UK, and features a line-up of Irish actors including Clare Dunne, Ciarán Hinds, Sam Keeley, Emmet Scanlan, Maria Doyle Kennedy and newcomer Yasmin Seky.

Details were unveiled yesterday by RTÉ in its new season of programming.

Gillen played ruthless gang boss John Boy in Love/Hate but he is loath to draw a comparison between the two crime series.

“There haven’t been that many Irish TV dramas that have made it big in the US: Strumpet City, of course, and Normal People.

“I know Love/Hate was seen in the States by executives, and all the people I spoke to did respond to it and did get it.”

Gillen said it was Peter McKenna’s script that drew him to the new project.

“I was intrigued by Frank’s conflict, a somewhat reluctant but efficient leader if you like. “He’s the head of a family, but he is ruling by succession or default. He’s not so straightforward,” said Gillen.

“And you know he has this whole other mysterious or semi-mysterious social life going on.”

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Meanwhile, the Wire and Game of Thrones star says he has thought “quite a lot” about his responsibility not to glorify gangland crime.

“But you can’t not show the attractive side of it, what it is that draws a 15-year-old or a 12-year-old into that life.

“I think you have a responsibility to show it and then show how it ends. And it generally doesn’t end well.

“It ends in prison or death; in the grave. So I’d be quite conscious of that.

“It is something I have thought about in the past; thought about quite a lot actually.

“But, I think it’s wrong to go out there and make it entertainment purely; I don’t like that.

“It’s a crime drama set in Dublin, so there will be some scenes that are brutal and shocking. But there is nothing in there for the sake of pure sensation. It’s pretty evenly paced and not overdone at all. 

“But, you have to be very careful about what you are glamorising. You can see anything now on your TV or computer, like literally anything. So your strength is in restraint, I think.”

Among shows returning on RTE will be Today with Maura and Dáithí. Emer O’Neill, formerly of Home School Hub, will be joining the line-up.

O’Neill said she was excited for her new role.

The presenter, who started a Black Lives Matter group in Bray, was also involved in developing an anti-racism work shop for primary schools and has held her own anti-racism workshops for primary and secondary level reaching 2,000 children in the last seven months. 

“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. When I did start speaking out, I was harassed quite badly. That was very tough,” she said.

“But the one thing that has kept me strong and going and fighting is the support. I feel the support of the people of Ireland has so much more outweighed the negative things that have happened to me over the course of my activist work. 

“Having two kids, there is a lot at stake for me. As a nation we can do so much better, and there are so many good people out there. That is a lovely thing I have found through my advocacy, the amount of people who feel so strongly about tackling racism.  

“It has just been amazing what Home School Hub has done for me in terms of diversity and giving me an opportunity to talk about racism and be a person of colour on TV.

“I grew up in Ireland, born and raised. I never had anybody on my TV screen to relate to or that looked like me. RTÉ bringing me in was so huge

“I think again getting to be on the Today show is just another example of the changes I feel we can see continue to occur in Ireland. People are really starting to acknowledge the need for diversity and representation.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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