TAKING THE PEACE Jeremy Corbyn insists his only link to the IRA was as a peacemaker but itís lies, says Irish historian Ruth Dudley Edwards
The Labour leader squirmed on Monday night during the TV leadersí debate when his links to the terror group were brought up
SINCE the carnage in Manchester, a shifty Jeremy Corbyn has been lying to us about his relationship with the IRA throughout the years when they murdered almost 2,000 British people and injured tens of thousands.
He is embarrassed because people have been pointing out his double standards.
Though he condemned Salman Abedi for setting off that bomb in Manchester, he had stayed quiet when the IRA injured hundreds in the city in 1992 and 1996.
He wriggled on Monday night during the TV leaders’ debate when Ulsterman Callum McNeill asked how he could be trusted to fight terrorism, considering he had openly supported the IRA in the past.
He gave as an example Corbyn’s attendance in 1987 at a London commemoration “to honour” eight terrorists killed by the SAS at Loughgall, County Armagh.
“The commemoration I think you are referring to was a period of silence for everyone who died in Northern Ireland,” lied Corbyn.
It was not, as McNeill pointed out — for the minute’s silence was a tribute to people killed as they tried to murder British policemen by bombing a police station and then firing on it.
He didn’t have the opportunity to add that Corbyn had told the audience at that shameful event that he was “happy to commemorate all those who died fighting for an independent Ireland”.
Corbyn then shamelessly claimed he had been engaged in calling for “a peace and dialogue process. It is only by dialogue and process that we brought about the peace in Northern Ireland.”
Corbyn’s involvement in Northern Ireland was limited to helping republicans.
As Seamus Mallon of the constitutional nationalist SDLP party, who would become deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, said bluntly: “He very clearly took the side of the IRA and that was incompatible, in my opinion, with working for peace.”
Corbyn and his Labour comrade John McDonnell, who now tells similar tall tales, were such hardline IRA supporters that they were saying just a few weeks before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, that brought peace to Northern Ireland, that republicans should settle for nothing short of a united Ireland.
They had to be brought to heel by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who were smart enough to know the IRA had been defeated by the security forces.
Let’s just look at a small part of Corbyn’s record.
When he became an MP in 1983 he was already important in such pro-IRA circles as the Troops Out movement, which marched for unconditional withdrawal, and the Labour Committee on Ireland, which described Northern Ireland as a colony and SDLP voters as cannon fodder.
He was also a key figure in the Trotskyist London Labour Briefing when it praised the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the October 1984 Conservative Party Conference, where five people were killed, and Norman Tebbit and his wife were among the 31 grievously injured.
“We refuse to parrot the ritual condemnation of ‘violence’, because we insist on placing responsibility where it lies,” said London Labour Briefing, demanding a total British withdrawal and the disarming of the police and the local defence forces.
“Let our ‘Iron Lady’ know this: Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”
Corbyn had already shown he condoned the bomb by flaunting Adams as his guest in the House of Commons.
So the man who would be our PM was happy to show his support for a group of terrorists who tried to murder then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
In 1986, he was arrested for obstruction at a Troops Out rally outside the Old Bailey. Year after year, Corbyn spoke at commemorations remembering the IRA dead, their “martyrs” and their “prisoners of war”.
Sometimes McDonnell was alongside him. As late as 2003, McDonnell said publicly: “It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. The peace we now have is due to the action of the IRA.”
In 2015, the year he became Labour leader, Corbyn was happy to be seen in Westminster with Adams and McGuinness.
But now, needing to deceive voters, he is insisting that all he has ever been is a peacemaker.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Neil: “I didn’t support the IRA. I don’t support the IRA. What I want everywhere is a peace process.”
He also claimed he’d never met the IRA and insisted his whole focus was on the peace process he had in fact scorned.
Like McDonnell — who backed “bombs and the bullets” and, as Jeremy Paxman pointed out on Monday, wanted to scrap MI5 and Special Branch and disarm the police — Corbyn is working hard to present himself as a safe pair of hands by rewriting his past history with the help of lies, lies and more lies.
Blithely, now they both claim to have been pro-peace and anti-violence.
And Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott tries to laugh off saying in 1983 that “an IRA victory against the British state would be a victory for all of us”.
Those three admirers of their country’s enemies aspire to the highest offices in the state. We owe it to the IRA’s victims to expose their lies.
Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.