Belfast Telegraph

'No real surprise' Labour's John McDonnell has hunger striker plaque, says Doug Beattie

He called the plaque a 'betrayal of Labour traditions'

Ulster Unionist Party MLA and ex soldier Doug Beattie has condemned Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for commemorating 'convicted terrorists'

The party's justice spokesperson condemned the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell following the revelation that he has a plaque commemorating the IRA and INLA Hunger Strikers displayed in his office.  

Prior to becoming an MLA Mr Beattie was highly decorated in over 28 years of military service in the Royal Irish Regiment.

The 'H-Block Martyrs 1981' plaque hangs in the Labour MP's study in Hayes, it emerged in an interview he gave to the Financial Times.

The plaque referring to the 10 IRA and INLA prisoners who died during the hunger strikes, including Bobby Sands, was presented to Mr McDonnell in 2004 by Gerry Kelly, the convicted Old Bailey bomber turned Sinn Fein politician.

"I've always honestly and openly said I believe in a united Ireland, but the point was to try and get to a united Ireland without the violence," Liverpool-born Mr McDonnell told the FT

“Perhaps the most troubling thing about the news that John O’Donnell’s decision to keep a plaque to the Hunger Strikers on his office wall is that it comes as no real surprise," said Upper Bann MLA Beattie.

“It is one thing for an obscure councillor or possibly even a backbench Labour MP to do this, but for someone who is the Shadow Chancellor to do it is a betrayal of the British Labour tradition.   

“The Hunger Strikers were convicted terrorists. They were in prison for terrorist acts including bombing and murder. One of them - Raymond McCreesh - was caught in possession of a weapon used by the IRA in the sectarian murder of ten workmen.

“What kind of Labour politician chooses to commemorate someone who was caught in possession of a weapon used to murder ten innocent men as they headed home to their families after a day’s work?”

A spokesman for Mr McDonnell said the plaque did not condone the previous actions of those involved in the hunger strikes.

"This was a gift to John for his work in promoting peaceful protests aimed at bringing both sides together during the Troubles.

"It merely commemorates the peaceful protest in prison, not the prior actions of those involved."

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