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street violence Smother star Stuart Graham lashes out at teenage rioters 'destroying' Belfast

Star of hit show deeply upset over the recent wave of trouble in the North

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Smother actor Stuart Graham

Smother actor Stuart Graham

Smother actor Stuart Graham

Smother actor Stuart Graham has lashed out at thugs who he claims are "destroying" his hometown of Belfast during a nightly wave of rioting over the past several days.

The 53-year-old, who stars as slain father figure Denis Ahern in the hit RTE series, says he is "deeply upset" over the recent wave of trouble in the North.

"There's a real absence of leadership," says Denis, who also starred alongside Michael Fassbender in Hunger, a movie about the Bobby Sands-led hunger strikes of 40 years ago.

"I think it all goes back to the fact the population in Northern Ireland voted to remain in Europe, by a wider majority that the UK population voted to leave, and the unionist leadership and unionist parties in Northern Ireland chose to ignore that fact.

"And we are where we are because of that.

"They dug a hole for themselves, which I don't think they know how to get out of. And they're panicking a bit.

"All of that has led to the scenes we have seen.

"The pictures I'm seeing ... these are teenage kids, dossers with a lot of pent-up energy and anger and emotion at the world, and they're being told that it's ok for them to run down the street and lob petrol bombs.

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A Loyalist and Nationalist rioter confront each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast.

A Loyalist and Nationalist rioter confront each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast.

A Loyalist and Nationalist rioter confront each other at Lanark Way interface in Belfast.

"I had hoped that those days had gone - sadly, they don't seem to be."

Stuart also reveals how he enjoyed his time filming Smother in Lahinch, Co. Clare. The star is a big golf fan and the area is home to one of Europe's top courses.

"The whole time I was filming, I was literally staying in the hotel and I could look out the window and I could look at the course," he recalls.

"It was only on the very last day I was there that I got to go out and play it, but it was worth waiting for. Lahinch is just a fantastic golf course - easily one of the best golf courses I've ever played.

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Suspects

"It was helped by the fact that it was a perfect day. It was cold, there wasn't a breath of wind and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. And I had a fantastic day."

A string of suspects have been pinpointed as Denis's killer in Smother.

"There's no saints in this show. Denis is a villain, he's a bad guy," says Stuart. "But I think a couple of other characters make the point through the show that it's not all his problem. It's family - some of it's black, some of it's white, but there's a lot of grey in families.

"A few people have said to me it's like an old-fashioned whodunit. It absolutely is - there is an element of Agatha Christie about the whole thing."

He adds: "There are an awful lot of characters in the first 30 pages of the script. Once I had established who all these people were, it became a real page-turner for me, to see what would happen next. I think it's great that we have made a decent show."

The Smother season finale airs tonight on RTE One at 9.30pm.

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