Ben Lowry: Even after Enniskillen massacre, Corbyn and the hard left would not condemn the IRA

People flee the 1987 Enniskillen bomb, in which 11 civilians were murdered. Picture Pacemaker
People flee the 1987 Enniskillen bomb, in which 11 civilians were murdered. Picture Pacemaker

Jeremy Corbyn’s past attitudes and approaches towards Sinn Fein and the IRA have been well documented during this election campaign.

There is now no doubt that he was sympathetic to republicans, and perhaps even a passionate supporter.

The aftermath of the Enniskillen bomb in 1987. Picture Pacemaker

The aftermath of the Enniskillen bomb in 1987. Picture Pacemaker

But it seems to be doing him minimal electoral damage in Great Britain.

This is partly due to something that I have written about previously – the ever shrinking number of people who remember how vile the IRA was.

It means little to most people under the age of 40. Even young people, say under 30, from a cultural Protestant background, often have a romanticised view of terror.

But for all the insistence of some commentators that too much attention has been paid to this past of Corbyn’s, and for all the highly misleading parallels between British discussions (with an IRA it despised) to Corbyn’s links (to an IRA that he seemed to rather like), his past attitude to IRA murder and mayhem is one of the core reasons why he should never be allowed anywhere near Downing Street.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn taking part in BBC1's Question Time Leaders Special presented by David Dimbleby from the campus of the University of York on Friday. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn taking part in BBC1's Question Time Leaders Special presented by David Dimbleby from the campus of the University of York on Friday. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Of all the many examples of his apologising for the IRA, perhaps the most contemptible is the House of Commons motion that he signed a mere fortnight after the 1987 Poppy Day massacre in Enniskillen (read Colin Armstrong’s detailed rebuttal of the notion that IRA attacks on civilians were typically mistakes.

The very first line of the House of the Commons document after Enniskillen, signed by various hard-left MPs such as Tony Benn, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone, is telling: “That this House expresses its horror at the continuing loss of life in Northern Ireland, as occurred at Enniskillen, believes that the violence in Northern Ireland stems primarily from the long-standing British occupation of that country and the partition imposed by force in 1921.” (the full motion is below)

Note the passive opening reference to Enniskillen, as if the bomb was something that befell the town as some random tragic event.

The authors cannot even express specific contempt for the IRA at its sectarian crime against humanity at a remembrance service.

Such a failure to even condemn Britain’s most murderous enemies brings to mind George Orwell’s comment: “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality.”

• The full motion is below

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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• November 24 1987 motion:

That this House expresses its horror at the continuing loss of life in Northern Ireland, as occurred at Enniskillen, believes that the violence in Northern Ireland stems primarily from the long-standing British occupation of that country and the partition imposed by force in 1921; notes that neither emergency powers, internment without trial, Diplock Courts, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the use of CS gas, plastic bullets, strip-searching, the existence of a Stormont parliament, direct rule, power-sharing, the despatch of British troops or the Anglo-Irish Agreement have yet succeeded in bringing peace and justice to Northern Ireland; is convinced that the supposed needs of Western defence is one of the reasons why Britain remains in Northern Ireland; and therefore reaffirms its belief in the urgent need for Britain to announce its decision to terminate its jurisdiction in the Province, and to withdraw all its troops within the lifetime of this Parliament, to open immediate negotiations between Britain and Ireland, to secure unification on terms that would safeguard all civil and political rights, so as to make possible the realisation of the ancient and undoubted aspirations of a majority of the Irish people for a united and independent Ireland; calls for the introduction of legislation in the British Parliament to secure these objectives; and to this end endorses the efforts of those in both North and South of Ireland who support the working class and believe that in the long run the problems of Ireland can only be solved by socialist policies.