Belfast Telegraph

Campbell to Varadkar: ‘Using bomb attack to create tension distasteful and disservice to victims’

Gregory Campbell
Gregory Campbell

By David Young

Gregory Campbell has written to Leo Varadkar to point out that the Newry bombing he highlighted in Brussels originated in Co Louth.

The East Londonderry MP last night released a letter in which he accused the Irish leader of "scaremongering" and claims the 1972 bomb attack raised questions about the Dublin's attitude to IRA violence.

Mr Campbell said the Taoiseach's reference to the 1972 attack was "a disservice to victims".

He wrote: "The 1972 IRA bomb was understood to have been made in County Louth, smuggled across the border and then detonated in Northern Ireland.

"This raises more questions about how the Irish Government of that day stood against the PIRA in County Louth than it does about customs posts.

"The bomb at Newry killed four customs officers, two lorry drivers and three PIRA men, left five wives without husbands and fourteen children without fathers. Six others were injured in the explosion.

"I understand the trauma caused by bombs. Of course families are still hurting. However, to use that bomb attack to create fears of violence today amongst EU leaders is distasteful. It is also a disservice to victims," the MP wrote.

The senior DUP figure pointed out that London, Brussels and Dublin have all said that they do not intend to build customs posts on the Irish border in any circumstance, adding in his letter: "It is dangerous if the blackmail of terrorist violence determines the policy direction of democratic governments such as yours."

Mr Campbell also reminded the Taoiseach of the difficulties the UK experienced in extraditing terror suspects.

"Perhaps you should also have shown fellow EU leaders some of the newspaper articles from that time about the Republic of Ireland's shameful record when it came to ensuring that terrorist suspects could stand trial in the United Kingdom."

Earlier, DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson MP was also highly critical of Mr Varadkar's reference to the bomb, accusing the Taoiseach and his government of trying to destabilise Northern Ireland.

Mr Wilson said: "If the Irish Government continue to step up the rhetoric and continue to try to destabilise Northern Ireland, whether by getting it out of the UK under the guise of Brexit or by stirring up the kind of sectarian problems which could arise from the kind of language which Leo Varadkar has raised, then they can't expect unionists to sit back and say nothing."

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: "We are not trying to scaremonger here, what we are trying to do here is protect a very precious peace and normality on the island of Ireland."

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