Diane Abbott refuses to say she 'regrets' calling for IRA to defeat British state

'It was 34 years ago. I had a rather splendid afro at the time. I don't have the same hairstyle and I don't have the same views'

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 28 May 2017 09:48
Diane Abbott on IRA: "My hairstyle has changed and so have my views"

The Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, has refused to say she "regrets" calling for the IRA to defeat the British state.

In an interview on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, Ms Abbott was asked whether she regretted her support for the IRA in the 80s.

Discussing how the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said he had not met with the IRA but was then pictured with members of the IRA throughout his political career, Andrew Marr said: You yourself said a defeat for the British state would be a great liberation, a great move forward, at that period of time.

"Do you regret your support for the IRA back in the 80s?"

Ms Abbott replied: "That particular quote you're referring to comes from a now defunct left newspaper.

"It was 34 years ago. I had a rather splendid afro at the time. I don't have the same hairstyle and I don't have the same views.

"It is 34 years on. The hairstyle has gone, and some of the views have gone."

Pushed further on whether she regretted what she said about the IRA, she said: "The hairstyle has gone, the views have gone.

"We've all moved on in 34 years, haven't you Andrew?"

Asked once more if she regretted what she said, she asked: "What specifically do you want me to regret?"

Mr Marr said: "You said a defeat of the IRA would be devastating for the British people. A defeat for the British state was a good thing, you said, at the time when the IRA was attacking the British state.

"You said the reason for the violence was entirely caused by the British presence in Northern Ireland. Do you think those statements now are wrong?"

Ms Abbott responded: "It was 34 years ago. I've moved on."

Quoting her words at the time, Mr Marr said: "Ireland is our struggle. Every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us. A defeat in Northern Ireland would be a defeat indeed."

"It was 34 years ago and I've moved on," Ms Abbott said again.

The Shadow Home Secretary recently suffered a car crash interview in which she suggested Mr Corbyn did not actually meet a number of convicted IRA terrorists when he shared a platform with them.

She was also asked about her comments in an Irish Republican journal, to which she repeated her comment that it was 34 years ago and that she had since "moved on".

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments