PMQs: Jeremy Corbyn offers condolences to dead police officer who didn't actually die

Labour leader's gaffe expected to fuel criticism that the party lacks interest in the ongoing Northern Ireland political crisis

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Indy Politics

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for offering his condolences to the family of a 'murdered' police office in Belfast, despite the fact that the man has not died.

The Labour leader paid the tribute to the police officer who was shot by paramilitaries on Sunday in North Belfast. However, despite Mr Corbyn expressing his sorrow that the man "lost his life", the officer did not die in the incident and is in a stable condition in hospital.

The police officer was shot in the arm and taken to hospital to receive treatment for his injuries. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Police Service For Northern Ireland said he was wearing protective body armour during the attack and is "recovering well".

The error is thought to fuel criticism from critics that Labour have a poor grasp of the current political crisis in Northern Ireland.

He made the comments while he was speaking at Prime Minister's Questions.

Following the error Nigel Dodds, MP for North Belfast, the constituency in which the officer was shot, stood up in the House of Commons and told fellow MPs, "actually he's still alive". The Democratic Unionist Party politician, added that he wished the officer a speedy recovery.

Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliot tweeted that the gaffe showed "very poor knowledge or briefing" of current events in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland is currently facing major instability after power-sharing collapsed last week when Sinn Fein withdrew from the executive. A snap election has been called for 2 March in the hopes of electing a new government who are willing to return to Stormont and revive the institutions.

The shooting in North Belfast is thought to be the first time in eight years that a police officer has been shot in Northern Ireland. Politicians from across the divide have condemned the action and appealed for calm.