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I'm telling your dad: Northern Ireland born MP Conor McGinn incredible claim after Jeremy Corbyn objected to interview comments

Published 22/07/2016

Labour's Conor McGinn
Labour's Conor McGinn
Jeremy Corbyn is facing a challenge from former work and pensions secretary Owen Smith
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A Northern Ireland-born MP has accused Jeremy Corbyn of considering calling his father in over comments made in an interview in an attempt to "bully" the politician into silence.

Labour whip Conor McGinn, originally from Camlough in Co Armagh, made the extraordinary claim that the party leader had considered using his father in an attempt to "apply pressure" on him following public criticism of Mr Corbyn.

His father is Sinn Fein councillor Pat McGinn.

Mr Corbyn's office dismissed the claims as "untrue" but St Helens North MP Mr McGinn accused the party leader of hypocrisy for talking about a "kinder, gentler politics" when "he had proposed using my family against me".

He said: "The leader of the Labour Party was proposing to address an issue with one of his own MPs by ringing his dad."

He suggested that Mr Corbyn considered calling his father because he is a Sinn Fein representative and thought they may "share a political affinity".

More: Labour's Jeremy Corbyn vows to bring abortion and same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland as victims blast refusal to condemn IRA terror

Mr McGinn said the leader had contemplated the action against him after a critical interview in May when he suggested that Mr Corbyn needed to understand that his Islington constituency in north London - often seen as a bastion of support for radical causes like unilateral nuclear disarmament - was "not like the rest of the country".

Mr McGinn said Mr Corbyn had initially asked for his resignation and considered sacking him after the comments in The House magazine but subsequently reconsidered.

But he added that he was later informed by colleagues in the Whips' Office about the proposal to call his father.

He said he had not made the incident public until now " because I find it shocking and embarrassing, and almost unbelievable".

In a statement, he said: " It transpired that Jeremy, in deliberations about how to respond to my interview, had said that he intended to ring my father to discuss it with him and ask him to speak to me about it.

"The leader of the Labour Party was proposing to address an issue with one of his own MPs by ringing his dad. Jeremy does not know my father so I can only presume that, because of the much-publicised fact that my father was a Sinn Fein councillor, Jeremy felt that they would share a political affinity and was proposing to use that to ask my father to apply pressure on me.

"Thankfully, others dissuaded Jeremy from taking this course of action. The call was not made, and it would not have been well- received ."

Mr McGinn said he had decided to go public after watching an interview with Mr Corbyn in which he repeated his mantra of supporting a "kinder, gentler politics".

"I am afraid I could no longer tolerate the hypocrisy of him talking about a kinder, gentler politics when I knew for a fact that he had proposed using my family against me in an attempt to bully me into submission because he didn't like something I said."

Mr McGinn said he and other Labour MPs had been subjected to a "torrent of abuse and threats" from supporters of Mr Corbyn.

"In my constituency, a group of people gained access to my shared office building under false pretences and filmed themselves protesting outside the door of my office, in an incident that has been reported to the police," he said.

"They threatened to disrupt my surgeries and events I was attending, requiring me to have a police presence at those last weekend."

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: "What Conor McGinn is saying is untrue."

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From Belfast Telegraph