Belfast Telegraph

Labour leader Corbyn defended over Troops Out arrest

Protest: Jeremy Corbyn
Protest: Jeremy Corbyn

By David Hughes

The Labour Party has defended leader Jeremy Corbyn over his arrest in 1986 at a protest rally involving IRA sympathisers.

Mr Corbyn was detained after joining a picket at the Old Bailey organised by the Troops Out Movement to oppose the "show trial" of a group including Patrick Magee.

Magee was later convicted of murdering five people at the 1984 Tory party conference in Brighton. But a party spokesman said: "Jeremy was at the Old Bailey to lobby for a fair trial.

"A number of serious miscarriages of justice had taken place at the time, which helped fuel the conflict, making peace in Northern Ireland harder to achieve and increasing insecurity across the UK.

"Lasting security comes from peace through negotiated agreements. Jeremy worked tirelessly to bring about that peace in Northern Ireland through dialogue, which culminated in the Good Friday Agreement."

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry was questioned about the matter on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show after the Sunday Times report was published.

"There were negotiations going on behind the scenes and there were people speaking openly and this is something which has been known for 30 years and it has been dragged out at this particular time because there is a general election on," she said.

"I don't think people should judge Jeremy by trying to talk to people who might be open to a settlement in Northern Ireland."

She added that Mr Corbyn's position was "not having open support for the IRA".

Meanwhile, the PSNI has been urged to investigate after a Conservative councillor in England posted a foul-mouthed tweet about the Irish during the Eurovision song contest.

Nick Harrington severely rebuked Ireland after it awarded 'nul points' to UK entry Never Give Up On You by Lucie Jones.

The tweet read: "#Eurovision2017 thanks Ireland. You can keep your f*****g gypsies! Hard border coming folks!"

Mr Harrington was quickly suspended by his local Conservative branch in the Warwick area of Coventry and his comments are being examined by police in Surrey.

But the Labour Party in NI also reported him to the PSNI for a 'hate crime' after the insulting remark during the annual song-a-thon.

Party secretary Kathryn Johnston said: "In the very week that Ireland was visited by Prince Charles and Camilla and Theresa May in a misguided attempt to copperfasten hard Brexit/hard border, Nick Harrington has laid bare the reality of Tory hate speech and the contempt in which they hold the electorate of Northern Ireland who voted by a majority of 55.8% to Remain in last June's European Referendum.

"Nick Harrington should immediately be expelled from the Tory party and Theresa May should apologise to the people of Ireland before respecting the democratic will."

Mr Harrington's Twitter account appears to have been deleted since the tweet.

No one from the PSNI was immediately available for comment.

Belfast Telegraph


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