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Corbyn's 'ignorance' over '74 IRA bombs 'shocking'

By Rebecca Black

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that the UK has never before faced an election in the aftermath of an atrocity has been met with incredulity by a leading victims campaigner.

Kenny Donaldson hit out after Mr Corbyn, earlier this week, said: “I can’t recall any other election where there has been anything like this, this has got to be the worst, I hope this will not disrupt our process because we have to have a democratic process but I also hope we will reflect on the need to have sufficient officers on our streets.”

The comments came as Mr Corbyn clashed with Prime Minister Theresa May claiming she had ignored “repeated warnings” not to cut police numbers.

The Labour leader said Mrs May had “presided” over a 19,000 fall in numbers as home secretary and he agreed with those calling on her to resign in the wake of the London Bridge attacks.

But the PM said she had protected counter-terror police numbers. And she accused the Labour leader of opposing shoot-to-kill powers.

Mr Donaldson pointed out that in 1974 alone there were major IRA bomb attacks just before the two general elections that were held that year.

On February 4 that year, 12 people were killed on the M62 motorway in the north of England, when a Provisional IRA bomb exploded in a coach carrying off-duty soldiers and their family members.

One of those who died in the blast was Corporal Clifford Haughton, whose entire family — wife Linda and young sons Lee (5) and Robert (2) — also died with him.

That happened just weeks before polling day on February 28. It resulted in a hung parliament.

There was then a second election in 1974 on October 10. Just five days before that poll, five people died and more than 65 were injured in the Guildford pub bombings. Mr Donaldson, director of services for Lisnaskea-based South East Fermanagh Foundation, criticised Mr Corbyn’s gaffe, and urged him to apologise for not mentioning the IRA atrocities before two elections.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s grasp of PIRA’s terror campaign is quite disgraceful, if it is ignorance then it is shocking,” he said. “These are murders which were committed on the very soil which Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues are contesting Thursday’s poll. Mr Corbyn must apologise to those impacted by these terrorist outrages because that’s what they were — they were inflicted by a death cult — PIRA just as Saturday night’s London acts of terrorism were inspired by the IS death cult.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist East Antrim candidate John Stewart claimed that Mr Corbyn’s lack of knowledge was further evidence that he is “unfit to be Prime Minister”.

“Given Jeremy Corbyn’s track record it is little surprise that he is unaware of previous terror attacks in the run-up to a general election,” he said. “This is yet another factor that demonstrates just how unfit he is to hold the office of Prime Minister.

“While he may be unaware of the almost daily terror attacks carried out by the IRA in the run-up to elections in Northern Ireland, one might expect him to have been aware of IRA atrocities on the UK mainland prior to the General Elections in 1974, not least the M62 coach bombing in February, and the Guildford pub bombings in October.

“Nobody will be surprised that Jeremy Corbyn should not wish to draw attention to IRA atrocities given his past associations with Sinn Fein, but his selective amnesia is extremely worrying in a man who wants to be Prime Minister in a matter of days.” 

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