Belfast Telegraph

Calls for Jeremy Corbyn to condemn IRA as Labour leader heads for Belfast

By Donna Deeney and David Young

Jeremy Corbyn has been challenged by a DUP MP to condemn IRA violence before he makes his first visit to Northern Ireland as Labour leader.

Islington MP Mr Corbyn is under pressure over his association with the Irish republican movement during the 1980s and 1990s.

He has himself claimed he played a role in building peace in Northern Ireland.

It's understood that he is to speak at Queen's University in Belfast, where the IRA gunned down 29-year-old law lecturer Edgar Graham in 1983.

Ian Paisley said yesterday: "I hope he sees this as an opportunity to condemn all IRA violence."

Mr Corbyn - a long time supporter of Sinn Fein - will also meet business groups in Belfast and Londonderry for discussions on the impact of Brexit.

Conservative Party deputy chairman James Cleverly said yesterday that he believed Mr Corbyn's planned Queen's University visit showed a "deep lack of respect".

"It's deeply concerning that Jeremy Corbyn is considering showing up where Edgar Graham was killed by the IRA," the Conservative MP told the Mail on Sunday.

"It shows a callousness and deep lack of respect.

"Corbyn gave cover to the IRA while they were bombing and shooting our citizens."

The storm over Mr Corbyn's trip to Northern Ireland came as shadow Chancellor John McDonnell pulled out of a speech to the Prison Officers' Association's annual conference because of his history of support for the republican movement at a time when the IRA murdered 28 warders here.

Chairman of the Prison Officers' Association Ivor Dunne last night called on Mr Corbyn to condemn the atrocities against its members by terrorists, and the present dissident republican threat.

Mr Dunne said anyone who supports the IRA or any terrorist organisation is walking in the blood of murdered prison officers.

He said: "It would be very helpful ahead of Mr Corbyn's visit if he gave his support to prison officers and rejected anyone that is threatening them, intimidating them and has carried out attempted assassinations on, before and after the ceasefire.

"We are still picking up the aftermath of prison officers who have been injured, threatened, who are suffering mental trauma.

"Being a prison officer in Northern Ireland is extremely difficult because we have to be entirely neutral."

Mr Dunne was one of those who objected to Mr McDonnell's presence at its annual conference last week.

"The resentment for Mr McDonnell at the conference was quite strong," he said.

"My members have suffered at the hands of both loyalist and republican terrorists, so for someone to refuse to condemn their actions... that is stepping on the blood of my members from both communities who have been murdered.

"Mr McDonnell has never come to Northern Ireland and never walked behind or carried the coffin of a fallen prison officer.

"Since the ceasefire we have had two members of the Prison Officers' Association brutally murdered and the question that needs to be asked is - do Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell support that?

"I have had to move members out of their homes within this past month because they were under threat of murder.

"And it is a reality for our members that they still have to cope with on a daily basis, and which should be condemned."

Belfast Telegraph

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