'Fifty' criticized for ex-IRA volunteers' role

McGowan statement highlights involvement, ex-spy says

TORONTO -- A former British spy said Thursday that producers of "Fifty Dead Men Walking" only raised more questions about IRA involvement in the making of their indie film when they distanced themselves from co-star Rose McGowan's pro-IRA statements.

On Wednesday, "Fifty" producers Future Films, Handmade International and Brightlight Pictures said that comments made last week by McGowan were her own and not those of anyone else associated with the film. Speaking at a Toronto Film Festival news conference, McGowan had indicated she would have joined the Irish Republican Army had she lived in Belfast during the Troubles.

But Martin McGartland, a former IRA infiltrator whose story inspired the script for "Fifty," said that director Kari Skogland should never have allowed former IRA volunteers to provide security and creative input during last year's Belfast shoot.

"(Skogland) should certainly not have been negotiating with the IRA to be able to film in certain areas of Belfast and she should never have allowed former IRA terrorists to be on set while filming," he said.

Skogland and her cast last week told the media in Toronto that former IRA volunteers had helped onscreen authenticity by providing tips on how to make bombs and torture IRA informants.

McGartland also fingered the Canadian government for investing in a film that was made with the help, and apparent support, of a terrorist organization.