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Jeremy Corbyn withdraws from Sinn Fein event at Labour Party conference

By Jonny Bell

Published 25/09/2015

Aspiration: Jeremy Corbyn
Aspiration: Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has withdrawn from a Sinn Fein event at the Labour party conference.

Mr Corbyn was due to speak at the fringe event alongside MP Paul Maskey and MLA Jennifer McCann in Brighton on Sunday.

Sinn Fein said Mr Corbyn had agreed to take part in the debate about Northern Ireland politics before he was elected as leader of the party and given his new commitments, the new shadow secretary of state, Vernon Coaker, will take his place.

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: "This event was organised before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour party leader.

"This is not the only event he will not be able to attend due to his commitments as party leader.

"The Labour Shadow Secretary of State,Vernon Coaker, will be replacing Mr Corbyn."

Mr Corbyn, who reiterated his support for a united Ireland earlier this week, has sparked division in Northern Ireland for his close ties to the republican movement.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, is a long-time friend of Mr Corbyn and welcomed his landslide victory in the Labour leadership race, describing him as a "good friend of Ireland".

Mr Adams tweeted a picture of the pair meeting in Parliament in July.

And Mr Corbyn's shadow chancellor, John McDonnell apologised for the offence caused by his comments suggesting IRA terrorists should be honoured for their role in the peace process.

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Labour MPs are critical of Mr Corbyn's stance on Ireland, especially given the political instability after all but one of the DUP's ministers quit the power sharing government earlier this month over allegations that Sinn Fein members were linked to a murder of a former IRA man.

One Labour MP, on hearing that Mr Corbyn had signed up to speak at the Sinn Fein event at the Labour party conference, told The Sun: "Corbyn keeps claiming meetings with Sinn Fein, Hamas, or Hezbollah are part of some one-man peace mission, but it's garbage."

Shortly after Mr Corbyn was announced Labour's new leader, Mr Adams said: "I have known Jeremy for many years. He is a good friend of Ireland and of the Irish peace process.

"I wish him well in his new and challenging role as leader of the British Labour Party and look forward to working with him in the time ahead to ensure that the gains of the peace process are built upon."

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