EXCL Jeremy Corbyn: The IRA were terrorists and their bombing campaign was wrong

Posted On: 
22nd May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn has said he believes the IRA were terrorists and their bombing campaign during the Troubles was wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn at a campaign event in Hull this morning.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader's office also insisted that neither he or John McDonnell believe the British Army were "equivalent participants" in the conflict.

Labour bosses clarified the views of the senior party figures after being challenged to do so by the Conservatives.

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Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire issued five questions to Mr Corbyn and the Shadow Chancellor following several days of controversy over their views on violent Republicanism.

It came after the Labour leader repeatedly failed to unequivocally condemn the IRA during an interview on Sky News.

PoliticsHome passed Mr Brokenshire's questions to Mr Corbyn's team, who issued the following response.

1) Should the IRA’s acts of murder be condemned unequivocally?

   "Yes."

2) Were the IRA terrorists?

   "Yes. The IRA clearly committed acts of terrorism."

3) Mr McDonnell said last week that ‘no cause is worth an innocent life’.  Do he and Mr Corbyn include within their definition of innocent life members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and members of the Armed Forces, for example the 18 soldiers murdered at Warrenpoint in 1979?

    "Yes.  All loss of life is tragic, as John McDonnell has said."

4) Do Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell regard members of the Armed Forces and the IRA as ‘equivalent’ participants during the troubles?

    "No."

5) If they are unable unequivocally to condemn IRA terrorism, do they actually believe that the IRA campaign, or as they would put it ‘armed struggle’, was both justified and legitimate?

    "Jeremy has said that the he was opposed to the IRA's armed campaign."

A spokesman for Mr McDonnell said: "This is a contemptible effort to take John’s comments out of context. He was clearly describing the tragic loss of all life. It is deeply worrying that we have a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who clearly doesn’t take his job seriously, when he is more interested in playing party politics with the peace process at a time when Stormont is without a working government."

Mr Corbyn this morning praised the "bravery" of nationalists and unionists who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.

The Labour leader said it was important to recognise that both Republicans and Unionists had "walked a very difficult extra mile" to bring about the Good Friday Agreement.

He said: "We have devolved administration in Northern Ireland and I think we should recognise that that peace was achieved by a lot of bravery, both in the unionist community as well as in the nationalist community, people that walked a very difficult extra mile when they were under pressure from their communities not to do so. 

"Both Republicans and Unionists, walked that extra mile and brought us the Good Friday Agreement.

"I think we should use this election as thanking those that brought about the Good Friday Agreement, all of them. Those in government at the time as well all those that did so much on the ground."