A woman who lost both parents in the 1987 Enniskillen bombing wants to challenge Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “eyeball to eyeball” over his close links with Sinn Fein.
William and Agnes Mullan were one of three sets of parents who were killed when the IRA detonated a no-warning bomb during a Remembrance service at the town’s cenotaph.
Speaking as the new Labour leader reached the milestone of 100 days in the post on Monday, Margaret Veitch said that for Mr Corbyn, and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell, to “condone” terrorism was retraumatising victims.
At a meeting in 1987 Mr Corbyn reportedly stood in honour of the eight-man IRA gang shot dead by the SAS as they attacked Loughgall RUC station in Co Armagh.
His first few months in office have been described as some of the most dramatic of any party leader in British political history.
Mrs Veitch said: “As a victim I am absolutely devastated by what the UK Labour Party is doing. How can my fellow British citizens support a party which is led by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell?”
She added: “SF/IRA don’t officially take their seats at Westminster but in these two men and others they have quasi representation through supporters of their terrorism being in high office.
“Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell have sought to play the ‘victim card’ – that it’s the evil right-wing press on their backs.
“I am telling them as an innocent person whose parents were brutally murdered that they grossly offend me and that their inability to understand that they were very wrong to condone the use of terrorism and criminal violence is retraumatising me and many others.”
Mrs Veitch’s parents were murdered along with nine other people as they gathered to commemorate the dead of the world wars.
A 12th victim, Ronnie Hill, never regained consciousness and had his life-support machine switched off more than a decade later.
Mrs Veitch said she now viewed the Labour leadership as “an extension of Sinn Fein/IRA,” and added: “I want to face these two men eyeball to eyeball and make them understand what the IRA – the freedom fighters – have done to my family and others like us.
“My parents were wholly innocent. They were innocents of a no-warning bomb cowardly detonated to destroy human life.
“Ironically my parents were at a Remembrance service in their own county town remembering the dead of the Great War and Second World War and were wearing their poppies, not as supporters of war but in dignified remembrance for all those who perished whilst seeking to secure freedoms and security within these islands and far beyond.
“Yet Mr Corbyn sought to diminish the very noble practice of Remembrance and only reached a point of wearing the poppy when the backlash within his own party and beyond became so intense for him.”
As well as facing fierce criticism over his long association with Gerry Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders – including telling a Wolfe Tone society meeting in 1987 that he was “happy to commemorate all those who died fighting for an independent Ireland” – the MP for Islington North has also been attacked for declining to condemn the IRA’s terrorism when invited to do so on a recent Nolan Show radio broadcast.
The backlash against the rise of the Labour backbencher to the party’s top post began almost immediately he was elected.
High-profile resignations, vicious splits and a series of policy U-turns have marked his first period in office.
Among the first big names to drop out of the shadow cabinet were Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt, Emma Reynolds and Rachel Reeves.
In September, Mr Corbyn caused widespread anger when he declined to sing the National Anthem at a Battle of Britain memorial service at St Paul’s in London.
He was accused of being “disloyal” but defended his actions saying he had instead chosen to observe a “respectful silence”.
Just days later, his close friend and political ally John McDonnell was forced to apologise after saying if he could go back in time he would like to “assassinate” the late Margaret Thatcher.
Mrs Veitch went on to say: “I won’t give up on justice for my mum and dad or others who perished in Enniskillen or elsewhere at the hands of brutal fascists.”
Some of the fiercest criticism directed at Mr Corbyn over his links with Irish republicans came during Commons debates in the 1980s.
In 1984 he brought senior republican figures into Parliament for a meeting – provoking outrage among unionist MPs.
Rev Ian Paisley told the House in December that year: “Every right-thinking person in Northern Ireland utterly abhorred the action taken by the honourable member for Islington North when he brought into the House Linda Quigley, who has been convicted as a member of the IRA.
“She said that she supported the IRA’s view that the British Government were a legitimate target. Therefore, she supported the bombing at Brighton, when an attempt was made to murder the Government,” the MP for North Antrim said.
UUP MP Ken Maginness said at the time that Mr Corbyn’s guests would have been able to “see everything that might be useful to a terrorist coming into the House with the intention of killing”.