Victims of IRA terror tell Jeremy Corbyn to apologise
October 13 2019, 12:01am, The Sunday Times
The Labour leader has repeatedly failed to condemn the IRA’s terrorist campaign of the 1970s and 1980sTOLGA AKMEN
Nearly 40 victims of IRA atrocities have called on Jeremy Corbyn to apologise for his support for Irish republicanism, accusing the Labour leader of “giving succour” to terrorists.
In an open letter to mark the 35th anniversary of the Brighton bombing, the families of the dead demand that he condemn the terrorist campaign waged by the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s.
Corbyn has repeatedly failed to do so, saying only that he condemns “all bombing”.
The letter has been signed by 38 people who lost loved ones or were injured in 25 attacks that collectively killed more than 100 people and wounded more than 750.
They include relatives of the dead in some of the IRA’s worst atrocities, including the bombings at Hyde Park, Warrington, Enniskillen and Shankill Road, Belfast.
The letter describes the 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Conservative Party conference, which left five people dead and 31 injured, as a “direct assault on our democracy”.
It adds: “We ask you to apologise for a career spent giving succour to violent republicanism when you should have been denouncing it. The first role of a prime minister is to keep his people safe. How can you expect people to vote for you if you fail to make this clear?”
The letter comes as a new report lays bare the extent of the Labour leader’s links to those who backed violent republicanism, including details of his parliamentary meeting with convicted IRA terrorists just days after the attack.
The report from Mainstream, a new campaign group against extremism in politics, also reveals evidence of Corbyn’s closeness to London Labour Briefing, which ran an infamous editorial after the Brighton attack claiming that “the British only sit up and take
notice when they are bombed into it.”
The dossier also details how, as the finance chairman of the GLC, John McDonnell signed off a £53,000 grant to the pro-Sinn Fein Troops Out movement, of which Corbyn was a member.
In 2015 Corbyn was asked five times to condemn IRA violence unequivocally during a BBC radio interview. On each occasion he refused.
In the letter, the families write: “Many politicians on all sides . . . have worked tirelessly to secure and sustain peace in Northern Ireland and have unequivocally condemned the IRA’s acts of terror . . . When asked to condemn the IRA’s terror campaign, you refused to do so.”
A poll, commissioned by Mainstream last month, found that more Labour members — 32% — blame the British government for the bombings than they do republican terrorists such as the IRA (27%).
Ian Austin, Mainstream’s founder, said: “Thirty five years ago . . . the IRA tried to murder British democracy. Less than two weeks afterwards . . . Jeremy Corbyn invited two convicted IRA terrorists to the Commons.”
He added: “Corbyn has often claimed that his involvement in Northern Irish politics was part of a search for peace. But there appears to be no record of Corbyn ever working with any unionist or loyalist group. Any real peace campaigner knows you have to talk to both sides. He is not fit to lead . . . our country.”
A Labour spokesman said: “Jeremy has made it absolutely clear that he didn’t and doesn’t support the IRA, and that what he always wants is to work for peace and respect for human rights.
“He has also spoken about how the peace process in Northern Ireland has been a model for other countries.”