Belfast Telegraph

Name a date and a place, says IRA victims' group over Corbyn meeting

By Allan Preston

Jeremy Corbyn has been told to name a date for meeting IRA victims after his Northern Ireland spokesman said the Labour leader is "happy" to meet them.

Mr Corbyn denied snubbing victims during his recent visit here and said his schedule had already been agreed in advance.

Yesterday shadow Secretary of State Tony Lloyd said he and Mr Corbyn were willing to meet victims in the future.

"He's made it clear on more than one occasion that he's happy to meet the victims," Mr Lloyd said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I will meet them very soon now.

"Jeremy made it clear when he was in Northern Ireland there was no difficulty in meeting them, the difficulty was in a tight programme that was already pre-organised."

Kenny Donaldson from Innocent Victims United, a group representing survivors of the Troubles, said it was long past time for Mr Corbyn to commit.

"We have written to them to ask for meetings with Jeremy Corbyn several times. We have a London-based office as well, so we are willing to travel," he said.

"We would welcome an opportunity to engage with Jeremy Corbyn on a number of issues that concern PIRA victims.

"The message we hear from victims is that he is certainly not clear-cut on his approach on terrorism - his actions have proven that over the years."

Mr Corbyn's "actions" during the Troubles have often been questioned as he regularly met with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams during the 1980s and 1990s, something seen as controversial at the peak of the IRA's campaign.

He always insisted he maintained contact with Sinn Fein to work for an end to the conflict.

In a number of interviews, he also refused to specifically condemn IRA violence without referencing the role played by other groups.

Mr Donaldson said that if Mr Corbyn saw himself as a future Prime Minister, he had a duty to make his position clear on legacy issues.

"He would need to state to the injured victims that there was no legitimacy for the use of the terrorist campaign," Mr Donaldso said.

"There's also his language of late, where he's very publicly associated himself with the prospect of a united Ireland.

"That again is questionable as he wants to be Prime Minister, and there's an unwritten rule they should not be partisan on that issue."

Mr Donaldson said there could be no more excuses for delaying a meeting.

"It's time for him to name a date. In Co Fermanagh we have border trails which brings people out and explains how people felt the brunt of the terrorist campaign," he said.

"We would request he comes to those areas rather than doing a choreographed Belfast walkabout with people who are more acceptable to the Establishment.

"Victims would want a crystal clear statement from him that there was no legitimacy for the criminal violence against the civilian population or the security forces.

"They would want to hear what he's doing for Troubles' victims in Great Britain. His party is doing little to advance that, with the exception of their MP Kate Hoey.

"He needs to show practical steps that he's taking this on board and that he'll act to make sure those responsible for criminal violence are held to account."

Belfast Telegraph

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