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Corbyn aide Barbrook wore badge linked to republican dissidents

By Allan Preston

Published 01/09/2016

Richard Barbrook was spotted wearing the badge at a function this week
Richard Barbrook was spotted wearing the badge at a function this week

A senior adviser to Jeremy Corbyn has been called naive by a DUP MP for wearing an Oglaigh na hÉireann badge - a phrase associated with an active terrorist group.

Dr Richard Barbrook - who works as Mr Corbyn's digital democracy guru and as a senior politics lecturer in Westminster University - was spotted wearing the badge on Tuesday at the launch of Labour's digital manifesto.

The pictures had been posted on Dr Barbrook's Facebook page, leading a number of national papers to accuse him of supporting dissident republicans.

Responding on his Twitter page, where he describes himself as a 'cybernetic communist,' he said: "It's a Sinn Fein badge celebrating the Good Friday peace agreement."

But the DUP MP for Lagan Valley, Jeffrey Donaldson, told the Belfast Telegraph Dr Barbrook should know better, and risked people believing there was support for dissidents at Labour's leadership level.

"I'm astonished that someone as senior and supposedly as knowledgeable as Dr Barbrook, who has been appointed as an adviser to the leader of the official opposition, would not be aware that this name has many connotations and is currently linked to an active terrorist organisation that is continuing to threaten to kill people in Northern Ireland," he said.

"I think Dr Barbrook should be more careful about his choice of badges in the future if he wants to be seen to be supporting the peace process."

"At this stage we will give him the benefit of the doubt and put this down to naivety, but I would question Jeremy Corbyn's judgement on appointing an adviser who could display such naivety."

The Labour leader and his deputy John McDonnell have previously been accused of being sympathetic to the IRA.

Mr Donaldson said that Mr Corbyn should take more care when picking his advisers.

"I doubt if this incident will make much difference to the Labour leadership contest; most Labour members seemed to have formed their opinion already, in that Jeremy Corbyn has been closely linked to Irish republicans in the past," he said.

He advised Dr Barbrook to carefully choose his badges in the future and avoid "any confusion on where his support lies in terms of the peace process as this could be construed as representing a view point that is held at leadership level in the Labour Party."

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