Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Labour leader's snub an insult to victims

Editor's Viewpoint

The one group of people for whom the peace process has signally failed to deliver is the bereaved and survivors of violence.

Most probably noted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's failure yesterday to meet any of those whose lives were so grievously and irrevocably changed by the conflict with a shrug of weary resignation.

After all, he is just the latest in a long line of politicians who have uttered what turned out to be meaningless platitudes about the victims of violence and then done nothing.

Yet Jeremy Corbyn is not just a run-of-the-mill political figure.

He is a man who aspires to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and one would imagine that even out of self-interest he would be keen to espouse and champion issues which others have let run into the sand.

However, it is clear that meeting relatives of those killed in the Troubles was not even on his radar yesterday.

That was an astonishing omission on what was his first visit to the province.

His claim that there was not time to rearrange his schedule to include victims' groups does not stand up to scrutiny.

Even if he had only learned of the invitation to meet such groups on Wednesday, surely it would have been possible to juggle events to include this vitally important group?

But this newspaper today proves that the invitation was issued 10 days ago by email and subsequently hand-delivered before DUP MP Gregory Campbell again invited him in a face-to-face meeting on Wednesday.

It is simply not good enough for Mr Corbyn to attempt to wriggle out of his refusal to meet victims' relatives and say that Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Tony Lloyd would be happy to meet them.

With all respect to Mr Lloyd, he is not the leader of the Labour Party and a potential Prime Minister.

Once again, the issue has been kicked down the lane. Any hope that relatives will get closure, never mind justice, is a forlorn one when they cannot even get a hearing.

Mr Corbyn, through past utterances which appeared to some to be unduly sympathetic to the IRA, has work to do to convince unionists in Northern Ireland that he would defend their position in the province.

And while he may protest that he did not snub victims' groups yesterday, those relatives may well feel he is not fully behind their demands either.

Belfast Telegraph

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