Wednesday 17 July 2019

Labour front-runner Corbyn refuses to condemn the IRA

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn
A woman, carrying her baby, prays in front of the cenotaph for the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. Photo: Toru Hanai

Steven Swinford in London

JEREMY Corbyn, the hard-left candidate and hot favourite in the race for the Labour leadership, has refused to condemn the IRA and has called for an end to the UK's nuclear weapons

Speaking at an event organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, marking the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima, he added: "Today we are commemorating Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were fireworks compared to the nuclear weapons that are now available.

"We are commemorating those who lost their lives and the sheer waste of nuclear weapons and nuclear war, the sheer levels of destruction if any nuclear weapons are used."

Mr Corbyn said a "nuclear-free zone" in the Middle East was "now more possible than ever" and he called for international disarmament.

"Many of us have spent our entire lives campaigning against nuclear weapons, we have got to win people over to the idea that a nuclear-free world is possible, that they are not a defence but an ever-present and costly danger, not just to us but to the entire planet," he added.

Mr Corbyn spoke of his opposition to the UK's Trident programme and said the funds should be invested in green energy and to help "the problems of poverty and destruction".

Later in the day, Mr Corbyn found himself heavily criticised by the families of IRA victims after repeatedly refusing to condemn the group for carrying out terrorist atrocities.

Mr Corbyn refused three times to directly condemn the IRA, instead highlighting Bloody Sunday and the role of the British Army during the conflict.

He caused outrage in the weeks after the Brighton bombing in 1984 by inviting Mr Adams and other members of Sinn Féin to the Commons.

He also observed a minute's silence in 1987 for eight IRA members killed by the SAS in an ambush in Gibraltar.

Last month he was pictured in Parliament with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, the Sinn Féin leaders.

In an interview with BBC Radio Ulster, Mr Corbyn was repeatedly challenged to condemn the IRA's actions. He responded: "I condemn all bombing, it is not a good idea, it is terrible what happened."

Asked again if he condemned the IRA, Mr Corbyn responded: "Look, I condemn what was done by the British Army as well as the other sides as well. What happened in Derry in 1972 (Bloody Sunday) was pretty devastating as well."

Asked a final time if he would condemn the IRA, Mr Corbyn replied "I feel we will have to take this up later, you know," before his phone cut out because of a bad signal.

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was shot dead by the IRA, said Mr Corbyn's refusal to condemn the group was an "insult to all our dead loved ones".

She said: "I am shocked and disappointed that an MP, especially someone who hopes to win a leadership contest and lead the Labour Party into government, would find it so difficult to say five simple words, 'Yes, I condemn the IRA.'"

Colin Parry, whose 12-year-old son Tim was killed in an IRA bomb in 1993, said: "When I saw the nature of the interview, it didn't surprise me. I think he saw an equivalence between the British Government's armed forced and republican terrorists which I think anyone with a balanced view in Northern Ireland could hardly agree with."

Irish Independent

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