Gritty crime drama Love/Hate is using convicted criminals as actors, it has emerged.
Almost 640,000 people watched the first episode of the third series which opened earlier this month with a rape followed by a brutal murder.
Known for its terrifyingly realistic content, it also has extras with real-life convictions playing drug dealers, IRA members and gardaí.
Brothers James (Jay) and Noel Mahon, who were convicted of growing cannabis in a shed in their back garden in Dublin three years ago, have appeared in the drama. The brothers, who were convicted and fined for the cannabis offences, avoided jail. Noel Mahon, who was also fined for having a stun gun — an illegal weapon, played the role of a garda while his brother played an IRA thug.
The brothers were convicted in 2009 after pleading guilty in Blanchardstown District Court to the cultivation of cannabis plants, possession of the drug and having it for sale or supply.
Noel also admitted to the possession of a stun gun, which he brought home in a suitcase from Thailand as a present for his brother, James.
Another brother, Darren Mahon, was also convicted on the drug charges.
The brothers claimed they grew cannabis in a shed in their back garden at Clancy Avenue, Finglas, Dublin after Darren broke his back in a car crash in 2007 and started using it to relieve pain.
Noel, an unemployed scaffolder at the time, had seven convictions, mostly for public order offences.
The Mahon brothers became involved in the production during filming in Finglas, Dublin. They were offered parts after visiting the set and asking for a job. Jay said he and his brother had turned their lives around since being convicted on the drug charges.
Last week, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan told the Oireachtas Justice Committee there were 25 organised criminal gangs operating in the State.
Speaking about the impact of the Love/Hate series, he said its merits, one way or the other, could be debated for a long time.
Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins said he would have no issue with convicted criminals appearing in the production.
RTÉ said all extras on commissioned drama productions were supplied by reputable casting agencies or directly by the production company.
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