Belfast Telegraph

Indefensible: Omagh bomb Corbyn joke tweet sparks backlash

A tweet by a UK broadcaster and commentator joking about the Omagh bomb and Jeremy Corbyn's links to the republican movement has been slammed as "indefensible" by the SDLP.

Julia Hartley-Brewer, a broadcaster and columnist who currently presents a programme for Talk Radio, has been criticised for a tweet featuring a picture taken in the aftermath of the attack, with text saying Labour leader Mr Corbyn had included the Real IRA attackers when commemorating commemoration the victims of the attrocity.

SDLP policing and justice spokesperson Dolores Kelly said: "The Omagh bombing was the worst atrocity to take place during our 30 year conflict. For Julia Hartley-Brewer to play politics with this issue is indefensible; then to go on and claim it is some sort of attempt at satire is outrageous."

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, Alliance Party MLA Stephen Farry said: "I am a critic of Jeremy Corbyn in many respects. But to tweet something like this in some of stupid little game shows how low Ms Hartley-Brewer is prepared to stoop.

"The Omagh bomb was the single biggest atrocity in the history of the Troubles. I would ask her to apologise for attempting to use it in such a way."

The tweet was posted on Sunday, which marked the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bomb.

Memorials took place in the Tyrone town and across the province for the 29 people - including a woman pregnant with twins - who died in the 1998 Real IRA attack.

Responding to the tweet many social media users took issue with the use of a picture of the Omagh bomb, and using the event to criticise the Labour leader.

Responding to the tweet, writer of the hit Channel 4 programme Derry Girls Lisa McGee said: "I cannot believe you thought it was acceptable to use this photograph in this way."

Sky News Ireland correspondent David Blevins also reacted to the tweet, writing: "Julia, how long did you spend thinking about the dead and their incredibly dignified families before deciding that the 20th anniversary of Northern Ireland's worst single atrocity was the stuff of satire?"

Another user, who said they were a member of the Labour party, wrote: "I am from Omagh. I am sick, hurt, and appalled that anyone could make political points out of the destruction of my lovely home town and 29 innocent people who died that day."

In a follow-up tweet, Mrs Hartley-Brewer wrote: "The fact that some people - even journos - can believe this tweet is true, and not satire, shows just how low our expectations of @jeremycorbyn are. He has repeatedly paid tribute to dead terrorists so why should today be any different?"

In the wake of the tweet a fake news story emerged online claiming Mrs Hartley-Brewer had been sacked from her position, Mrs Hartley-Brewer responded to by saying: "I’m gutted, to be honest. I was looking forward to a lie in tomorrow. But it turns out this is just more Corbynista #fakenews so I guess it’s bedtime for me. Night all!"

Jeremy Corbyn's links to the republican movement and activity during the Troubles have come under scrutiny since he became Labour party leader in 2015.

The Labour party and Talk Radio have been contacted for comment.

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