Belfast Telegraph

'Lily-livered' Corbyn unfit to be PM, says Provo victim's brother

The brother of a soldier killed in an IRA explosion in England more than 40 years ago has branded Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn "lily-livered" over his policies on defending the UK against a terrorist attack.

Albert Walsh's 17-year-old brother Leslie was among 12 victims, including two children, when the IRA planted a 25lb bomb on a bus carrying Army and RAF personnel along the M62 back to their bases in Yorkshire in February 1974.

The servicemen and their families were using the bus because of a British Rail strike at the time.

It was one of a series of IRA bomb attacks just before the two general elections held that year.

Earlier this week Mr Corbyn was criticised after saying that he could not recall a previous occasion when the UK went into an election in the face of terrorist atrocities such as those carried out in Manchester and London in recent days.

However, victims' campaigners pointed out that Mr Corbyn had overlooked the M62 bombing, which happened just over three weeks before the February 1974 poll.

Mr Walsh, giving his opinion on Mr Corbyn's fitness to become Prime Minister of the UK, added: "I just think he is not fit to lead the country.

"I wouldn't trust him."

Mr Walsh said his brother's killing devastated his family and that his mother and father divorced after 29 years of marriage because of it.

"Corbyn, like a lot of politicians, suffers from selective memory," he added.

"He doesn't agree with a shoot to kill policy, but if you look at the London attack at the weekend, all three attackers were dead within eight minutes because of the action that the police took. I agree with it.

"All these people have too much free rein, and they come out of jail free to do the same thing again."

It was just after midnight on February 4, 1974 when the bomb on board the bus detonated just south of Leeds.

The coach was carrying Army personnel and their families from Manchester to Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.

The other victims were: Cpl Terence Griffin (24); Gunner Leonard Godden (22); Signalman Michael Waugh (23); Signalman Paul Reid (17); L/Cpl James McShane (29); Fusilier Jack Hynes (20) and Fusilier Stephen Whalley (18). Cpl Clifford Haughton and his wife Linda, who were both 23, and the couple's two sons Lee (5) and Robert (2) were also killed.

One person, Judith Ward, served an 18-year jail term for the M62 attack.

She was released in 1992 after the conviction was ruled to have been a miscarriage of justice.

There were two general elections in the UK in 1974 and both were set against the background of a series of major IRA bombs in England.

As well as the attack on the coach travelling along the M62, the Provos also killed a further 26 people in attacks on bars at Guildford, Birmingham and Woolwich, as well as an attack on the Tower of London in July that year.

Mr Corbyn was first elected as a Labour Party councillor in the London borough of Haringey in May 1974.

A month later the IRA succeeded in bombing the Houses of Parliament, wounding 11 people and causing extensive damage to Westminster Hall. A telephone call by the IRA gave a warning of just six minutes.

Mr Walsh added: "We went through very troubled times in the 1970s.

"My brother's death destroyed my family.

"My mum never got over it. No mother should have to bury a 17-year-old child.

"Jeremy Corbyn forgets that all the families affected by IRA bombs were left devastated.

"He needs to look deep into his heart.

"We had the Guildford and Birmingham bombs, the bomb at Westminster and Airey Neave killed in the 1970s.

"What is going on now, just like then, are direct attacks on our democracy.

"We stopped Adolf Hitler during World War Two, he couldn't destroy us. We are an island nation surrounded by deep water and if we cannot protect our borders from attack, there is little hope for us.

"I think Corbyn is lily-livered and he needs to decide where he stands and smell the coffee.

"This is real life. This is real life, not a dream world, which is where he seems to live."

BY EAMON SWEENEY

Belfast Telegraph

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