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Jeremy Corbyn under fire for trying to block extradition of known IRA man

By Erinn Kerr

Published 28/09/2015

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn
Dessie Ellis
A declassified Government document which claims Dessie Ellis was linked to 50 murders

Jeremy Corbyn tried to stop a known IRA man from facing trial in the United Kingdom following the Hyde Park bombing, it has been revealed.

The Labour leader reportedly put his name to a letter urging the Irish people not to surrender Dessie Ellis in 1990.

Mr Corbyn warned that Ellis, who was later elected to the Dail to represent Sinn Fein, could not be given a fair hearing in the UK because he was being tried for "politically motivated offences".

Ellis had already served seven years in an Irish jail on terror charges at the time the letter was written.

British police claimed Ellis's fingerprints were on explosives and timing devices found in a wooded area of Berkshire in 1983.

These were same sort of timers were used in IRA attacks in Hyde Park and Regent's Park in 1982 in which 11 military personnel were killed. They were also linked to the Harrods bombing in 1983 in which six people were killed.

Despite the campaign to keep him on home soil, Ellis was eventually extradited in 1990 and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions.

A jury later found him not guilty, though questions remain about his involvement in a number of other incidents.

Ellis has always denied any link to the terrorist atrocities but has accepted he was a member of the IRA.

UUP MP Danny Kinahan yesterday condemned Mr Corbyn's historic actions and told the Belfast Telegraph he would speak to the newly-appointed Labour leader himself if he was ever given the opportunity.

He said: "My feeling is that the justice system needs to be allowed to play its very important role and actions like these seek to diminish that role. We need to put the past behind us, but we also need to recognise the importance of the legal system and make sure everyone has the same fair trial.

"The sooner victims can get closure the better."

The news came as Mr Corbyn was being criticised on the Andrew Marr Show for continuing to justify controversial talks he orchestrated with IRA members in the 1980s during an interview.

The sister of an IRA murder victim told the Belfast Telegraph she wanted Mr Corbyn to condemn republican terrorism "once and for all" with "no ifs or buts".

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA in 1984, said she couldn't accept Mr Corbyn's public justification for his actions.

She said: "There are many republicans who never condone violence or the actions of the IRA. Corbyn insults them all by saying he was reaching out to the republican tradition when in fact he was reaching out to terrorists in the hope of appeasing them.

"I agree dialogue is always preferable to violence.

"However, the House of Commons, after the IRA had tried to murder the whole British cabinet, was not the correct place. I would still like to see Mr Corbyn come out strongly and with no ifs, buts or 'whatabouts' and state categorically that IRA violence was wrong.

"I would also like him to visit the victims of this group of people whom he seems to think are great peacemakers."

DUP MLA Arlene Foster questioned Mr Corbyn's defence of his relationship with Sinn Fein and called him a "cheerleader" for the actions of those "determined to break up the UK by force".

She said Mr Corbyn was "perfectly entitled" to support a united Ireland, providing he accepted it could only be achieved by peaceful means, and was for the people of Northern Ireland to decide.

The Acting First Minister added: "One of his biggest problems is that so few people, either in Northern Ireland or the rest of the United Kingdom, appear to believe the revisionism and excuses offered about his actions in the past."

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