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Labour's John McDonnell under fire over Bobby Sands plaque

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who has said he would be
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who has said he would be "ruthless" about managing spending and said his ambition is to restore credibility in economic debate. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
SUNDAY LIFE NEWS - H-Block Martyrs 1981 plaque whihc hangs in the office of Labour's Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell.

By Sarah Henderson

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is under fire after it was revealed he has a plaque commemorating republican hunger strikers on the wall of his office.

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.

Liverpool-born Mr McDonnell told the FT: "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."

The senior Shadow Cabinet minister has previously apologised for demanding that people "honour" the "bombs and bullets and sacrifice" made by the IRA and hunger strikers.

Former Cabinet Minister Lord Tebbit, whose wife was permanently paralysed in the 1984 Brighton bomb, said yesterday that Mr McDonnell had been "caught out again".

"It only confirms the closeness of IRA killers with some parts of the Labour Party," he said.

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Asked if Mr McDonnell should remove the plaque, Lord Tebbit said: "I think I know where I would like to put it up."

A spokesman for Mr McDonnell said: "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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