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Labour youth group deletes Bobby Sands tribute tweet

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Louise Haigh: ‘it was inappropriate’

Louise Haigh: ‘it was inappropriate’

Louise Haigh: ‘it was inappropriate’

A senior Labour MP has said a tweet by one of the party's youth associations has "rightly been deleted" after it paid tribute to IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands on the anniversary of his death.

Tuesday marked 39 years since the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP died after a 66-day fast in the Maze Prison.

On Tuesday evening London Young Labour tweeted a picture of the Falls Road mural dedicated to the IRA man.

They wrote: "On this day in 1981, socialist and republican Bobby Sands died as a PoW, following a hunger strike during which he became an elected MP.

"We remember him and continue to fight for an end to imperialism and for a free and united Ireland."

The tweet received over 2,000 replies, both supporting and condemning the tribute.

The party's new leader Sir Keir Starmer was urged by DUP MP Ian Paisley to take disciplinary action, while Sammy Heenan, whose father was shot dead by the IRA in 1985, said he was "shocked" when he saw it.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland Louise Haigh stated that the tweet was "provocative and inappropriate".

"It does not reflect the Labour Party's long-standing and deep commitment to cross-community cooperation and the principles of the Good Friday Agreement," she added.

"Our role must be to remain as a trusted partner between all communities in Northern Ireland and help all sides work together to not only address the legacy of the Troubles, but create a prosperous future for all the people of Northern Ireland.

"That is Labour's legacy and one we remain completely committed to."

Welcoming the decision to delete the tweet, Mr Paisley said he appreciated that Mr Starmer and Ms Haigh "immediately acted".

"I think it's very positive and shows a ruthless determination to stamp these sort of inappropriate comments out," he said. "I welcome the fact that it's been taken down from Twitter and I'm sure there'll be other internal disciplinary actions that we'll hear of later.

"I would certainly call on them to make sure that those responsible are disciplined internally."

In 1976 Sands was sentenced for possessing a firearm after he was involved in a gun battle with police following the IRA bombing of a furniture shop in Dunmurry.

Mr Paisley said that "those things aren't forgotten".

"When people try to say he's a hero, when we look at what he did, it wasn't heroism, it was cowardice," he added.

Belfast Telegraph