Derry Girls star Siobhán McSweeney has spoken of her ‘heartbreak’ of the Good Friday Agreement being ‘in danger’ as the series comes to an end.
After three series and an extended special, Lisa McGee’s acclaimed Channel 4 sitcom came to an end this week with an emotional farewell.
The sitcom is set to the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with British soldiers searching school busses and IRA bomb attacks part of the only reality the teenage protagonists have ever known.
One of the final scenes in the last-ever episode showed the people of Northern Ireland casting their vote for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA), which ended decades of violence and allowed peace to prevail.
But with Brexit having first threatened a hard border on the island of Ireland, and the British government now suggesting parts of the Northern Ireland protocol could be ripped up, the GFA is in danger of being undermined.
Siobhán, who plays Sister Michael in the phenomenal show, spoke on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday where she said the timing of Derry Girls airing its final scene ‘could not be more apt’.
She warned she would be ‘very inarticulate’ in making this point as she felt ‘quite emotional’ about it all.
The ending of Derry Girls, she said, was ‘meant to be the ending of a sitcom and instead what it shows is how the past is not the past, it’s always with us.’
‘The Good Friday Agreeent was hard won and hard fought for, and the people of Northern Ireland voted for it, and now it’s in danger of being attacked through ignorance,’ she said.
‘It goes back to the idea that a sitcom is teaching the people of this country about the history of Northern Ireland and that’s not how it should be.’
She described the final scene as ‘incredibly poignant,’ with the teenage protagonist, their parents, Sister Michael and all the supporting characters viewers fell in love with along the way, casting their vote for a future of peace.
They were, she said, ‘full of hope, tentative hope for peace and reconciliation for the future and the young people and their future, and we cut to the future and that is in danger now.’
‘It breaks my heart,’ she admitted.
Taking to Twitter after the interview, Siobhán went on to say that not only was she heartbroken, she was also ‘furious’.
‘The combo gives me acid reflux,’ she said, adding: ‘Just cop on.’
As the series ended on Wednesday night, hundreds of fans took to social media to thank the cast and crew, with more than one admitting the show had taught them more about the history of Northern Ireland than the British education system had.
One person said Derry Girls had given them ‘more insight into the politics of Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement than school ever did. And has motivated me to go away, learn more and understand better.’
Another stated: ‘I learned more about the Good Friday agreement in the five minute closing #DerryGirls montage than I learned in the entirety of my education in the UK, and that is literally not an exaggeration in the least.’
Following the release of the final episode, Lisa tweeted: ‘Thank you for watching. I’m quite emotional tonight so don’t have any words.’
Derry Girls is available to watch on All 4.