ACTOR Liam Neeson has said that he expects to see a united Ireland within his lifetime.
The 70-year-old star made the claim during an interview with Sky News journalist Beth Rigby.
During the in-depth discussion ahead of the release of his new movie, Marlowe, Co. Antrim native Neeson also said he didn't believe the Peace Process was under threat.
'Protestant voice has to be heard'
When asked by Rigby about the reunification of Ireland in his lifetime, the Michael Collins star said it was a realistic possibility as long as everyone's views were respected.
"I think it will happen," he told Rigby.
He added: "I think it could happen but everybody has to be appeased.
"The Protestants in the North of Ireland have a strong voice – I hear them, I know where they're coming from — and they have to be respected.
Liam Neeson has told Sky's @BethRigby that he thinks Ireland reunification could happen in his lifetime.
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"If there's going to be a united Ireland, their voice has to be heard and they have to be represented if a united Ireland comes about."
Neeson, who was raised a Catholic in the largely Protestant town of Ballymena, said he doesn't believe post-Brexit tensions and the recent attempted murder of a police officer can destabilise the Peace Process.
He instead attributed the latter to 'cowboys' and felt the Good Friday Agreement — which marks its 25th anniversary this year — was still backed by the majority in Northern Ireland.
"For bitter, bitter enemies to ultimately come together and make an agreement — with help from America, of course, the Clintons — it is quite an extraordinary achievement," said Neeson.
He added: "I did think there's cowboys out there that still want to believe in the old IRA or what have you, but the Peace Process is here to stay, it is.
"Everybody wants it, certainly in the North of Ireland."
Marlowe once again sees Neeson link up with Irish director Neil Jordan, with whom the actor worked on High Spirits and Michael Collins.
He takes on the titular role of iconic private detective Philip Marlowe, created by American author Raymond Chandler — a second-generation Irishman who spent part of his childhood in Ireland.
Marlowe has previously been played on screen by actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, James Garner and Elliott Gould.
The film had its British premiere on Thursday and was released in cinemas and on Sky Cinema on Friday.