'Labour-IRA attitude' under scrutiny as Young Fabians invite former terror commander to be guest of honour at Christmas party

Mr O'Callaghan shot and killed a Special Branch detective in Omagh in 1974 and was linked to a fatal mortar attack the same year

The Labour Party is facing further criticism over its alleged past attitude towards the IRA as a former commander in the terrorist organisation is invited to be guest of honour at the Christmas social of the Young Fabians society.

The Fabian Society, the British socialist organization that founded Labour in 1900 and remains closely linked to the party, invited Sean O'Callaghan, to be keynote speaker at its youth wing's event to be held at the Fabian Society headquarters in Westminster this evening. 

Mr O'Callaghan, 61, the former Head of the Southern Command of the IRA, shot and killed RUC Special Branch Detective Inspector Peter Flanagan in a pub in Omagh in August 1974. In May of the same year, he was also involved in a mortar attack that killed Ulster Defence Regiment volunteer and secondary school teacher Private Eva Martin, after she was mistakenly identified as a collaborator with loyalist paramilitary gangs.

In 1976, he left the IRA before turning informant to the Irish police force in 1979. 

In the aftermath of revelations of the now-shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s 'bullets, bombs and ballot boxes' speech at the Amersham Arms in New Cross, south London, in 1986, this move by the Young Fabians will reignite claims that links between the IRA and the Labour left persist into the modern day. 

Senior members of the Young Labour movement have been shown as attending the event on Facebook. 

Rochdale Labour MP and former Young Fabian treasurer Simon Danczuk said: "I think this is a questionable decision by a group closely associated to the Labour Party.

"At a time when Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell’s previous remarks about the IRA are under intense scrutiny, this sends out the wrong message about what the Labour Party and its affiliated groups stand for.

"As a former treasurer of the Young Fabians I can certainly say this wouldn’t have happened in my day."

The Fabian Society was not available for comment.