Shadow chancellor’s hunger strike plaque ‘a betrayal of Labour traditions’

The plaque hangs in John McDonnell's study
The plaque hangs in John McDonnell's study

Labour’s shadow chancellor has been accused of betraying Labour traditions by displaying a plaque to republican hunger strikers in his study.

West London MP John McDonnell has a plaque listing the 10 ‘H-Block Martyrs 1981’ in this study, including Raymond McCreesh, who was arrested with a weapon used in the Kingsmills massacre several months after the 1976 atrocity.

UUP justice spokesman Doug Beattie MLA said the most troubling thing was that it was no surprise.

“It is one thing for an obscure councillor or possibly even a back bench Labour MP to do this, but for someone who is the shadow chancellor to do it is a betrayal of the British Labour tradition,” he said.

“The hunger strikers were convicted terrorists. They were in prison for terrorist acts including bombing and murder. One of them – Raymond McCreesh – was caught in possession of a weapon used by the IRA in the sectarian murder of 10 workmen.

“What kind of Labour politician chooses to commemorate someone who was caught in possession of a weapon used to murder 10 innocent men as they headed home to their families after a day’s work?”

Colin Worton’s brother Kenneth was one of the workmen killed at Kingsmills.

“I am just shocked,” he said. “I think the world is turned upside down when even senior MPs even have these things in their offices. Is it any wonder victims of terrorism are not making more progress.

“If that is the calibre of MPs representing English people – who have also been victims of the IRA – then we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.”

In 2003 Mr McDonnell apologised for demanding that people “honour” the “bombs and bullets and sacrifice” made by the IRA.

A Labour spokesman said: “This was a gift to John for his work in promoting peaceful protests aimed at bringing both sides together during the Troubles.

“It merely commemorates the peaceful protest in prison, not the prior actions of those involved.”