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Sister of IRA victim demands Jeremy Corbyn meets with victims of Provo violence

New revelations on Labour leader's links with terror group

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 12/10/2015

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

The sister of an IRA victim has described as shocking new revelations of the close links between the IRA and the Labour Party leadership.

Ann Travers' comments come after it emerged that the new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at official republican commemorations honouring IRA terrorists who had been killed.

She has now called for an urgent meeting between Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell and victims of republican terrorism.

Archived documents showed Mr Corbyn attended several events supporting the IRA in the 1980s and 90s as the Troubles raged.

He also held a high-level position on a left-wing magazine - London Labour Briefing - that controversially sympathised with the Brighton bombing in 1984,

The report, published in The Sunday Telegraph, said that the editorial board article that praised the 1984 Brighton bomb said: "the British only sit up and take notice (of Ireland) when they are bombed into it".

It also emerged that Mr McDonnell was given an award in 2004 by Sinn Fein for the "unfailing political and personal support he has given to the republican community in the six counties over many years".

The news report suggested Mr Corbyn wrote the front page story in the same issue of Briefing in December 1984 which carried a reader's letter that praised the "audacity" of the IRA attack, stating: "What do you call four dead Tories? A start."

Mrs Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA in Belfast in 1984, said the two Labour politicians now need to meet victims of republican terrorism urgently to build trust.

"I think it is quite shocking and unbelievable that a potential future government will have people who appear to think that terrorism isn't wrong and who have had a close relationship with Sinn Fein and receive awards from them," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I suppose trust is a major issue in Northern Ireland amongst victims, especially in the last couple of years with the OTR letters (telling IRA fugitives they can return home without fear of prosecution) that have been emerging."

Mr McDonnell's previous comments about the IRA sparked controversy earlier this year.

In 2003, at a gathering in London to commemorate the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, he said IRA terrorists should be "honoured". He recently apologised on television.

Mrs Travers, however, said the apology was questionable and there was a greater need for transparency over the links.

"Did they think what the IRA did was right? There is no dressing it up, it was wrong. Nobody has the right to murder and take away human life. That goes for all paramilitary groups or members of state forces who acted outside of the law."

Victims campaigner Willie Frazer said the Labour leader's links to the IRA must be investigated further.

"I would like to ask the UK citizens how they would feel about this, the families of the soldiers who came over here, that man has been given an award for the actions of the IRA," he said.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds described Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell as "enemies of the peace process".

"Many people throughout the United Kingdom will be shocked at the extent to which Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were associated with the IRA.

"They were enemies of the peace process. They had a clear choice between the IRA and peaceful nationalism and they chose the IRA."

UUP MP Tom Elliott said the comments are "beneath contempt" and will come as "a slap in the face for victims of IRA terror".

Mr Corbyn has consistently defended reaching out to republicans at the height of the troubles by insisting he "wanted the violence to stop".

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