| 6.6°C Belfast

Editor's Viewpoint: Corbyn must clarify his stance on IRA's campaign of terror


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Getty Images

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel was one of 12 people killed by the Provisional IRA in the Remembrance Sunday bombing in Enniskillen, has an unsparing view of Jeremy Corbyn. On the 22nd anniversary of the atrocity, he claims that the Labour leader is "a mouthpiece for terrorists" and is unfit to lead Britain.

"It beggars belief that he could actually become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom," said Mr Gault who, as an 18-year-old, was one of 60 people injured in the Enniskillen blast, some of them severely so.

Mr Gault claims that Corbyn "never seems to condemn any terrorist at all, whether its al-Qaida or the Provisional IRA. He never has and never will. He's probably Sinn Fein's greatest ally within Britain".

Corbyn's record of support for terrorist organisations has long been considered the primary obstacle to him becoming Prime Minister, and this has only latterly been trumped by his abject failure to tackle the cancer of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.

At the height of the Troubles, Corbyn, who was at that time a hard-Left backbencher and a thorn in the side of successive leaders, spoke at commemorations to honour dead IRA terrorists.

In 1968 he was arrested after taking part in a protest by IRA sympathisers in demonstrating "solidarity" with, among others, Patrick Magee, who was later convicted of murdering five people in the 1984 Brighton bombing. They included the Conservative MP Sir Anthony Berry.

It is the same story concerning the anti-Semitism crisis which is convulsing the Labour Party. On hearing of plans to remove a notoriously anti-Semitic mural in the East End of London, Corbyn's reaction was to ask, "Why?".

There was also the hideous Islamist preacher Raed Salah, who peddled the poisonous nonsense that Jews drank the blood of Gentile children. Unsurprisingly, Corbyn called him an "honoured citizen" and invited him to the House of Commons for tea.

Corbyn's apologists argue that he has never supported acts of terrorism, and has condemned anti-Semitic behaviour when asked to do so.

It is indeed true that many of Corbyn's supposed views on Israel end up crediting the opinions to his so-called "inner circle" or "confidants".

It would also be surprising, given the anti-Semitism that pervades wider society, that the Labour Party would be entirely free of this virus.

However, people tend to be judged by the company they keep, and Jeremy Corbyn's company for much of the past 40 years has been lamentable.

However, Remainers claim that Boris Johnson is just as bad, but in different ways. There are even those who imagine a hung Parliament where Johnson gives way to a Labour leader other than Corbyn. In reality they are deluding themselves.

Instead, on this Armistice Day, we should be concentrating on the neglect which our Servicemen and women suffer when they leave the Armed Forces. It is estimated that at least 66,000 veterans are struggling with mental health problems, or with addiction issues, or who are sleeping rough.

The link between battlefield experience and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) has been inadequately researched, and, as we think of the suffering of those affected by conflict, the politicians will be judged on the reality of life today for battle veterans.

The jury is still out but, on Jeremy Corbyn's fitness to hold the highest office of state, Stephen Gault's coruscating judgment seems unanswerable.

Belfast Telegraph