Corbyn letter slams lethal attacks against ‘innocents’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised by unionists for his attitude towards IRA violence
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised by unionists for his attitude towards IRA violence

A Jeremy Corbyn letter sent to a victims’ campaign group contains condemnations of IRA bombing – but not a full rejection of all the paramilitary group’s activities.

The letter in question was sent to the Hyde Park Justice Campaign, and has been interpreted by members as signalling his support for their cause – see FULL STORY HERE.

Ever since becoming Labour leader in a landslide 2015 win, Mr Corbyn has come under pressure over the stance he took on Troubles violence.

His latest statement on the matter, in his letter to the Hyde Park Justice Campaign on July 5 this year (something which emerged on Wednesday), said: “I deplore all acts of lethal violence which take innocent lives.

“That applies to the IRA bombing campaign in the 1980s as well as acts of terrorism we have witnessed in Manchester and London in recent months.”

During his career as a backbencher Mr Corbyn met with senior republican figures such as Gerry Adams, inviting them into the Houses of Parliament whilst the IRA campaign raged on, and he has been accused by unionists of displaying sympathies for the group.

An investigation by the News Letter unearthed a Sunday Express article from 1987, which reported that he had attended a London rally in honour of the IRA’s Loughgall gang, at which he “attacked the government’s Ulster policy and said troops should be pulled out of the Province”.

The report added that he told the meeting: “I’m happy to commemorate all those who died fighting for an independent Ireland”.

That article has become one of the News Letter’s most-read online stories ever – SEE THE FULL THING HERE.

In the past couple of years he has defended his associations with pre-ceasefire republicans as being part of an attempt to “reach out” and help bring violence to a close.

In a 2015 interview with The New Statesman magazine, he was quoted as affirming his support for reunification of the island, saying that a united Ireland is “an aspiration that I have always gone along with”.

In August 2015 on the Nolan Show he was asked if he condemned the IRA.

He said he condemned “all bombing”, but appeared uncertain when it came to condemning the IRA outright, before the phone interview abruptly ended after Mr Corbyn said he was unable to hear the presenter.

On May 22 this year, in answers posted online to questions from Tory Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, Mr Corbyn’s Labour team replied “yes” when asked if the IRA were terrorists, and whether he regards police and military personnel as “innocent”.

They answered “no” when asked if he regarded the IRA and state forces as equivalents, and stated that he “was opposed to the IRA’s armed campaign”.

The Yorkshire Post the same day reported that, when quizzed about the IRA at a campaign event in Hull, he declared that he “condemned all acts of violence ... from wherever they came” – but stopped short of naming the group.

And on May 27 he was quoted as telling reporters in London that the IRA bombing campaign “was completely wrong because it was taking civilian lives”.