Belfast Telegraph

Abbott's comment on her changed view of IRA 'crass'

By Chris McCullough

A victims' group in Northern Ireland has called on Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott to apologise after comparing her past support for the IRA to her changing hairstyle.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Ms Abbott continually refused to confirm that she regretted calling for the IRA to "defeat the British State".

Mr Marr also asked Ms Abbott: "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 Eighties?"

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."

Mr Marr was discussing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's comments about never having met with the IRA, despite having been pictured with members of the IRA throughout his political career.

However, Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said: "The reality is that the Labour Party's key personnel, its leader, shadow chancellor and shadow home secretary are all highly suspect on the PIRA.

"Their record down the years has spoken for itself and comments over the weekend from Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott prove that they remain unable and unwilling to condemn the totality of PIRA's insurrectionist campaign which saw the wholesale murder of its neighbours - Protestant, Roman Catholic and Dissenter.

"We need to remember that these are the individuals who have their sights on leadership positions with a future Government. Yet their leader refuses to condemn the murder and injury of, and to, his fellow citizens, members of the security forces who sought to thwart terrorism and to serve their entire community.

"In essence, Jeremy Corbyn subscribes to Provo policy that members of the RUC/PSNI, Army, Prison Service, Met Police and others were 'legitimate targets'. "His shadow home secretary's comments this weekend about her political views having changed over the last 34 years like her hairstyle is nothing short of crass and disgraceful.

"How does Diane Abbott believe these comments are heard by the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism?

"She must account for, and make apology for, these comments and she must state very clearly how her views on PIRA have changed, in plain speaking. No more riddle talking Ms Abbott."

Mr Corbyn was later asked on ITV's Peston On Sunday if Ms Abbott's hairstyle comments trivialised the IRA. "Diane's hairstyle is a matter for Diane," he replied.

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