Shadow chancellor’s hunger strike plaque ‘shows Labour’s closeness to Sinn Fein’

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has an IRA plaque hanging in his study
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has an IRA plaque hanging in his study

A unionist MP has slammed Labour Shadow chancellor John McDonnell after it emerged he has a plaque commemorating republican terrorists who died on hunger strike in his study.

Mr McDonnell has a memorial to the ‘H-Block Martyrs 1981’ which lists the names of 10 IRA and INLA terrorists who died while in prison, including Bobby Sands and convicted murderer Francis Hughes.

The plaque was presented to John McDonnell by Sinn Fein MLA and former prisoner Gerry Kelly

The plaque was presented to John McDonnell by Sinn Fein MLA and former prisoner Gerry Kelly

The plaque also lists Raymond McCreesh, who was arrested with a weapon used in the Kingsmills massacre several months after the 1976 atrocity, and after whom a Newry council playground is controversially named.

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

However, he insisted he always opposed violence in Northern Ireland but did back a united Ireland.

Former Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit, whose wife was permanently paralysed in the 1984 IRA bomb attack on the Tory conference in Brighton, said Mr McDonnell had been “caught out again”.

“It only confirms the closeness of IRA killers with some parts of the Labour Party,” he told the Daily Mail.

“He has been a regular one being caught out with friendly gestures of one kind or another to IRA killers.”

His comments were echoed by DUP MP Gregory Campbell.

“I’m not surprised that John McDonnell has a plaque in his office commemorating IRA terrorist hunger strikers,” he said.

“It’s further confirmation of the close relationship between the current Labour Party leadership and Sinn Fein.

“The IRA left behind broken homes and carnage.

“Their campaign of bombs and bullets led to the murder of innocent men, women and children.

“McDonnell would do well to consider the feelings of IRA victims when hanging plaques in his office.

“Celebrating the IRA is an insult to innocent victims of all religions and none.

“To glorify the terrorists of yesteryear also sends a confusing message to this generation. How can the Labour leadership condemn international terrorism whilst celebrating Irish republican terrorism?

“Bombing was wrong 30 years ago and it’s still wrong today.”

Mr McDonnell was presented with the plaque in 2004 by Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly.

The revelation that the shadow chancellor still has the plaque on display was contained in an interview with the Financial Times.

Mr McDonnell told the paper: “I’ve always honestly and openly said I believe in a united Ireland, but the point was to try and get to a united Ireland without the violence.”

A spokesman for Mr McDonnell said: “This [plaque] 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.”