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Corbyn and McDonnell a 'threat to the Union', suggests Arlene Foster

Published 04/10/2016

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with John McDonnell following his speech during the party's conference in Liverpool
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with John McDonnell following his speech during the party's conference in Liverpool

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are a threat to the Union, Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster has suggested.

Mr Corbyn has previously expressed support for a united Ireland while Mr McDonnell has apologised for offence caused by calling for Irish republican terrorists to be honoured.

Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), criticised the Labour leader and the shadow chancellor at a Conservative conference DUP fringe event.

He described the pair as a "threat to the Union" and Ms Foster, the leader of the DUP, agreed with his assessment.

Mr Dodds said: "But when we think, and you don't need me to remind you, of the sort of opposition that is now on offer in the United Kingdom and in the House of Commons, men like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell who have supported in the past people who carry out such bombings, it is more important than ever that we who are Unionists, together, whether from Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland, stand together against all the threats to the Union.

"I include the current leader of the opposition and the shadow chancellor in that threat to the Union."

When asked by the Press Association if she shared the view expressed by Mr Dodds, Ms Foster said: "It is, absolutely, because of what they have been associated with in the past and indeed it appears in the present as well given some of the press coverage over the weekend in connection with John McDonnell with some of those who have been convicted of dissident republican activity.

"That is very concerning from our perspective that somebody who would hold such a high office in the Labour Party would be associated with those sorts of people."

Ms Foster and DUP representatives met with Theresa May on Tuesday morning amid speculation about the level of support the party will give the Tories in the House of Commons.

Mr Dodds addressed the issue at the fringe event and said: "We will lend our full support to the new Prime Minister who I think has got off to a fantastic start in leading this country forward.

"We will lend her our full support in terms of making Brexit work for all of the United Kingdom."

Mr Dodds said the DUP will work with the Government "on other areas of policy on which we agree, like grammar schools".

Ms Foster told the Press Association: "Obviously, in terms of the big ticket issue, in terms of Brexit, we are on the same page, we want to make a success out of leaving the European Union."

Beyond that, she said, there are "some synergies" between the two parties.

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