Jeremy Corbyn refuses to comment on new reports of 'close links' to IRA

Reports claim the new Labour leader attended pro-IRA events for a number of years

Adam Withnall
Sunday 11 October 2015 13:05 BST
As the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn's role comes with an expectation that he will become a member of the Privy Council
As the Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn's role comes with an expectation that he will become a member of the Privy Council

Jeremy Corbyn has refused to comment on new reports of his and shadow Chancellor John McDonnell's alleged "close links" to the IRA.

Archived documents showed Mr Corbyn attended several events supporting the IRA in the 1980s and '90s, and held a high-level position on a left-wing magazine that controversially sympathised with the Brighton Bombing in 1984, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The newspaper also reported that Mr McDonnell had received a commemorative plaque from IRA member Gerry Kelly in 2004 for his "unfailing political and personal support" at a Sinn Fein fundraising dinner.

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn told The Independent that the Labour leader had no comment on what he described as "historic stories". He added: "Jeremy has always and still does oppose violence."

According to the Telegraph, Mr Corbyn was general secretary of the Labour Briefing magazine when, in 1984, it ran an editorial saying "the British only sit up and take notice when they are bombed into it". While it neither specifically condones the Brighton terror attack nor offers express support to the IRA, it does state sympathy for "the Irish republican movement, though we may not always agree with all their tactics or policies".

The magazine also carried reader's letters with jokes about the bombing, including one which read: "What do you call four dead Tories? A start." Another, referencing Norman Tebbit's infamous comments about "getting on your bike and looking for work", read: "Try riding your bike now, Norman." The MP's wife was permanently disabled in the bombing, and he was photographed being pulled from the rubble in his pyjamas.

Mr Corbyn attended events to commemorate dead IRA members for seven years running between 1986 and 1992, the Telegraph reported. It uncovered programmes for the events which praised the "soldiers of the IRA" and said: "We are proud of our people and the revolutionaries who are an integral part of that people."

Mr Corbyn was criticised by families of IRA victims in August after he failed to explicitly condemn the group during a telephone interview with BBC Radio Ulster.

When asked if he condemned the IRA, the Islington North MP said: “I condemn all bombing, it is not a good idea, and it is terrible what happened.”

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