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Farage plays down candidate's previous defence of IRA

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage
Claire Fox of the Brexit Party

By Steven Alexander

Nigel Farage is continuing to come under pressure over one of his Brexit Party candidates' defence of the IRA following the Warrington bombing in 1993 - but called the issue "irrelevant".

Claire Fox, a European Parliament candidate in the North West of England, was a leading member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) which defended "the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures necessary in their struggle for freedom" after the IRA killed two young boys in Warrington.

Over the weekend, two Brexit Party statements were released in the name of Ms Fox. The first said that she does "not support the IRA or its methods".

Pointedly, the second statement left this out, as well as a claim that she "never knowingly met or had any communication or links with republican or loyalist paramilitary organisations".

The first also said: "I fully respect the Good Friday Agreement and embrace the peace that it has made possible."

But the later one appeared to carefully distance Ms Fox from support for the 1998 peace deal.

"The people of the north of Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement and I embrace the peace that it has made possible," it said.

Colin Parry, whose son Tim (12) died in the Warrington bombing, has said voters would be "absolutely disgusted" and urged Ms Fox to disown the comments, but Mr Farage said: "This is an irrelevant conversation."

Mr Parry told the Daily Mail that Ms Fox had repeatedly refused to condemn the IRA's actions in a 10-minute phone call with him last Wednesday.

Another Brexit Party candidate is Aileen Quinton, whose mother Alberta was one of 12 people killed in the IRA's Poppy Day massacre in Enniskillen in 1987.

Ms Quinton has yet to respond to a request for comment.

At the weekend, Mr Farage called it "a classic stitch up smear story", insisting Ms Fox had "made no comments herself" about Warrington and "does not want politics to be pursued by violent means".

Brexit Party candidate Sally Bate has already resigned because Ms Fox refused to condemn the IRA attack.

In her latest statement, Ms Fox said she does not believe there is any justification for violence in Ireland today. However, she has not responded to calls to condemn past IRA actions, nor resiled from her previous position.

"I have not mentioned the horrific times of over 23 years ago since then and do not believe there is any justification for violence in Ireland today," she said.

"I find that this campaign against me and the Brexit Party is being orchestrated by political opponents. In a different age, I campaigned for the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland and self-determination for Ireland as a whole.

"The 1994 IRA ceasefire and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement drew a line under the conflict. It is surely time to move on."

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