In 2018, TV super smash Derry Girls stopped viewers in their tracks. It showed the joyful mundanity of life that continued even during the Troubles, while telling a timeless tale of friendship between girls. The cast spoke to The Big Issue ahead of the Derry Girls series 2 premiere, and made it clear that their time between filming was certainly not wasted.
Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, who plays Michelle Mallon, told The Big Issue she has “relished” being able to use her voice to raise awareness for issues of social justice. “It is one of the perks of the job,” she said. “I am working with an abortion rights charity and on women’s sexual health rights. Abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland and that is something we feel quite passionate about.”
— Nicola Coughlan (@nicolacoughlan) February 22, 2019
Co-star Nicola Coughlan, who appears as Clare Devlin, agreed. The group were really involved with the Repeal the Eight campaign, she said, which was “an important time for Irish women – and it is still a situation in Northern Ireland”. She also felt a responsibility to champion LGBTQ charities after playing a gay character.
Louisa Harland, Orla McCool in the show, backed her up. “It is still illegal in the North to get married if you are gay. It is legal in the UK which they are part of, and it is legal in the Republic, as is abortion now. So we feel strongly about the North being recognised.
She added: “Nicola’s character Clare wouldn’t be able to get married today. That is ridiculous.”