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Don't romanticise the IRA, Jeremy, they're evil killers

Published 16/09/2015

An open letter to Jeremy Corbyn

I was born and have lived all my life in Northern Ireland. I have never, to my knowledge, deliberately hurt, or harmed, another human being.

I have been, in a small way, involved in what passes for politics here, as a local government councillor and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, where I represented to the best of my ability all the people of East Belfast.

I served within the Ulster Defence Regiment and my wife was a constable with the Royal Ulster Constabulary. We are both members of the Ulster Unionist Party.

At one time, the constituency I once represented made a very significant contribution to the GDP of the entire United Kingdom and had within its boundaries the two largest shipyards, the largest and oldest aircraft factory and the largest rope works, not in Ireland, not in the UK, but in the world.

I have no idea what informed your views on Northern Ireland, or shaped the views apparently held by yourself and other members of your front bench team regarding the IRA and Sinn Fein.

But I know what shaped mine: walking to school with the smell of gas in the air, falling asleep by counting gunshots, being awakened by bomb explosions, the endless funerals of those, like myself and my wife, who served within the law who were murdered in the most cowardly fashion by terrorists in cold blood - school bus drivers in front of their young passengers, teachers in front of their pupils, fathers in front of their wives, mothers in front of their children.

These actions are not the actions of freedom fighters; they were the actions of terrorists.

The solution available at Stormont is far from perfect and it will not be helped by the Opposition party in our parliament at Westminster being partisan on the citizenship of one million people.

MICHAEL COPELAND (UUP)

Former MLA for East Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

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