Jeremy Corbyn makes ‘huge mistake’ over PSNI officer

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made a “huge mistake” by saying a police officer lost his life in Northern Ireland, an MP has said.

Fermanagh south Tyrone MP Tom Elliott of the UUP Tweeted: “Jeremy Corbyn makes huge mistake at PMQ by saying that a police officer lost his life in NI at the weekend. Very poor knowledge or briefing”.

In fact the PSNI officer was shot several times in the arm and was later described as being stable in hospital.

Mr Corbyn told the Commons: “I join the Prime Minister in expressing condolences, I am sure of the whole house, to the family of the police officer who lost his life over the weekend in Northern Ireland.”

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said the officer had undergone surgery on his arm and would require further operations.

It is believed the attack was carried out by dissident republicans.

Mr Hamilton condemned the gunman for spraying a busy garage forecourt with automatic gunfire as “reckless madness”.

It is not the first time Mr Corbyn has been embroiled in controversy on Northern Ireland.

In 1987 he stood in honour of IRA gunmen who were killed by the SAS after launching an attack on Loughgall police station.

More recently he declined to condemn the actions of the IRA.

Later in today’s debate, DUP MP Nigel Dodds stood up to say that thankfully the police officer had not been killed and that he wished him a speedy recovery.

His party colleague Ian Paisley MP followed him with a passionate attack on Mr Corbyn through a point of order.

However the Speaker of the House defended the Labour leader, saying Mr Corbyn had relied on advice given to him and that Mr Paisley had now set the record straight.

Mr Elliott told the News Letter: “It just makes you wonder how much of an interest Mr Corybn takes in Northern Ireland, particularly when it comes to our police officers”.

He added that even Prime Minister Theresa May had “missed a trick” by not stepping in to correct the Labour leader.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland later called on Mr Corbyn to apologise to the wounded officer for “his jaw-dropping gaffe”.

Chairman, Mark Lindsay, said: “Frankly, I’m appalled that the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition should get this so badly wrong on the floor of the House of Commons.

“It was a jaw-dropping gaffe and he should immediately apologise to the Officer and his family.

“Mr Corbyn was either poorly briefed by his staff or he’s that much out of touch with what is happening. Either way, it’s a shocking error to make and needs to be corrected.

“Our colleague is recovering after the ambush on the Crumlin Road. We welcome the expression of good wishes from the Prime Minister, which preceded Mr Corbyn’s contribution, and which more accurately reflected the mood of the House.

“We have excellent working relationships with a number of MPs and I know they will be appalled and embarrassed by Mr Corbyn’s comment”.

READ MORE: The night Jeremy Corbyn stood in honour of IRA men