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Jeremy Corbyn 'needs to explain stance on terrorism' after Labour victory

By Joanne Fleming

Published 26/09/2016

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

A Troubles victims' group has criticised the re-election of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - claiming his stance on the IRA is "unjustifiable".

Kenny Donaldson, of Innocent Victims United, said Saturday's leadership battle - in which Mr Corbyn received nearly 62% of the vote to beat his rival Owen Smith by a large margin - had upset many of its members.

Mr Donaldson said Mr Corbyn had failed to unequivocally condemn the IRA in the past and had yet to respond to a request for a meeting with his group.

"He has never given us this meeting and it is time for him to stop stonewalling the victims of terrorism," he said.

"There are issues if he wants to position himself as a credible leader and potential Prime Minister. We are asking him as a supposed democratic leader to stand by the victims of terrorism.

"We are not asking him to cherrypick the IRA. There is no justification for terrorism across the board.

"Jeremy Corbyn has not murdered anyone but he has not been clear on his opposition to murder being used. That is the problem."

Mr Donaldson said the lack of a consistent message was "unjustifiable".

"Victims and survivors demand an answer to these questions," he said. "Does Mr Corbyn consider the IRA as a terrorist organisation or its members as 'freedom fighters?'

"What does Mr Corbyn have to say to the families of those whose loved ones were murdered by individuals within the 'IRA's Loughgall 8' - those who he stood for a one-minute's silence to honour?"

Mr Corbyn's election has been welcomed by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI).

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams described Mr Corbyn as a "stalwart friend to Ireland".

"I want to extend my warmest congratulations to Jeremy on his resounding win," he said. "He faces many challenges in the time ahead in confronting the right wing agenda of the Conservative Government, not least in addressing the issue of Brexit."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also offered his best wishes.

"I look forward to working with the Labour leader as we continue to fight Brexit and promote the democratically stated will of people in Ireland," he said.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Dave Anderson said he was "glad it is all over" and hoped those MPs who voted for a motion of no confidence in the party leader would now have a change of heart.

LPNI secretary Boyd Black welcomed Mr Corbyn's re-election. He said: "We will as always be supporting him as leader and hope he succeeds in unifying the party and bringing it together in good shape to fight a general election."

Mr Black said the ability to run Labour candidates for election in Northern Ireland remained its biggest priority.

"In a big piece of news today Dennis Skinner (Labour MP) has come out on our right to stand which is a big change," he said.

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