Belfast Telegraph

IRA victim's daughter hits out at party colleague's comments

Brexit Party candidate Aileen Quinton
Brexit Party candidate Aileen Quinton
Claire Fox
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A Brexit Party candidate who lost her mother in the Poppy Day bomb has criticised her running mate's reluctance to condemn IRA violence and for "couching" her comments when she finally broke her silence.

Fermanagh woman Aileen Quinton has spent decades campaigning for victims after her mother Alberta was killed with 11 others in Enniskillen in 1987.

Until now, she has stayed out of a row over her party colleague Claire Fox's past as a leading member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and its publication, which defended "the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures necessary in their struggle for freedom" after the IRA's Warrington bombing in 1993.

"It just should never be a problem to condemn terrorism and the stance of a candidate presenting for election to any public office regarding terrorism is always relevant when there has been any doubts raised," Ms Quinton said in a statement posted on social media.

Her comments come after Nigel Farage played down the RCP's defence of the IRA in the wake of the Warrington bomb which killed two young boys. He dismissed the debate as "irrelevant".

Last weekend, the Brexit Party released two different statements in the name of Ms Fox.

The first said she does "not support the IRA or its methods" but that claim was noticeably absent from an amended version.

Also missing from the amended statement was a denial that she ever "knowingly met" or communicated with republican and loyalist groups.

Ms Quinton admitted she "would have been looking for something more emphatic (and) less couched", such as "'I condemn the IRA's violence' as opposed to 'I do not support the IRA'."

"I do not support Everton, but I don't condemn it for playing football," she added.

However, the "bewildered" London MEP candidate insisted she is satisfied with the "direction of travel" in the new party and is more interested in where people are now than where they were in the past.

"But that has to include a present acceptance of the immorality of terrorism," she said.

While Ms Quinton acknowledged her party colleague's association with the "repulsive" publication means she has a case to answer, she claimed Ms Fox did not personally pen the words.

Ms Quinton also claimed "a lot" of calls for Ms Fox to renounce her past are "cynical attempts to damage the Brexit Party" before launching a scathing attack on the Labour Party, including its leader and shadow Chancellor.

"There are many decent people in the Labour Party, but I would be very uncomfortable with being in the same party as Corbyn, who I believe was much more of an IRA supporter than Claire ever was," she wrote.

Not limiting her criticism to Westminster, Ms Q uinton said she would feel "more uncomfortable" in the SDLP, whose leader Colum Eastwood once carried the coffin of Official IRA and INLA man Seamus 'Chang' Coyle.

She also lashed out at the DUP after its Oldpark councillor Dale Pankhurst had his election nomination papers signed by ex-UVF hitman Bobby Spence.

Taking aim at the UUP, Ms Quinton slammed MLA Andy Allen for having "no shame" in saying his second preference vote would go to a member of the PUP in 2017 - a party she branded as a moral "mirror image" of Sinn Fein.

She also criticised all politicians who signed a Book of Condolence for "my mother's unrepentant murderer".

"How many of those calling for Claire's head, for something that someone else wrote about terrorism, were as strong in demanding that Martin McGuinness denounce actually being a terrorist or even for him to stop justifying it?" she asked.

She added: "I consider the matter closed and I am committed to working to get as many of our candidate list elected as possible."

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