Ruth Davidson accuses John McDonnell of ‘wanting the IRA to win’
The Scottish Conservative leader has launched a stinging attack on John McDonnell over his previous comments regarding the IRA.
Ruth Davidson said when she looks at the Shadow Chancellor she sees “a man that wanted the IRA to win”.
Mr McDonnell came under fire last year after it emerged he called on IRA militants to be “honoured”.
The Shadow Chancellor insisted he had been trying to help the peace process at the time and later apologised if he had caused any offence.
Appearing on ITV’s Peston on Sunday show, Mr McDonnell praised former prime minister Tony Blair’s “heroic” involvement in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
But the Labour MP said Mr Blair’s decision to take Britain into Iraq had rendered his reputation “destroyed”.
Ms Davidson, who appeared on the show moments after Mr McDonnell spoke about the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, accused the Shadow Chancellor of being against the political solution at the time.
She said: “I look at John McDonnell and I listen to him, we’ve got huge differences, and I hear him bringing up Northern Ireland and the only thing that I can see when I look at him is there’s a man that wanted the IRA to win.
“There were loads of Republican voices that were advocating a political solution, he walked right past them and he went straight to the guys with the bullets and the bombs.
“He looked at British army uniforms and thought they were the enemy, and he looked at the guys in balaclavas and he thought they were their friends.”
According to a report in The Times last year, Mr McDonnell called for the “ballot, the bullet and the bomb” to be used to unite Ireland at the height of the Republicans' terror campaign.
He made the comments about the IRA at a 100-strong meeting at pub in New Cross in 1989.
A spokesperson for Mr McDonnell told The Times he has “no recollection of making these remarks” and regardless they were “taken out of context”.
The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War is due for publication on 6 July.
Mr McDonnell, who voted against military action, refused to say whether Mr Blair should be put on trial as a war criminal and said he awaited the report’s publication.
“Here’s the tragedy, I think Tony Blair is almost a Shakespearian tragic figure. I have nothing but praise for him for what he did in terms of Northern Ireland and the peace process. I just thought it was heroic, actually John Major as well, to give him his due,” he said.
“I thought that was heroic. If he had stopped there he would have gone down in history as a peacemaker, then he allows Iraq to happen. And I think it’s completely destroyed his reputation. If he had left it at Northern Ireland I would have been one of the first people to praise his administration in terms of what they did.”