Corbyn has been ‘clear’ in condemning IRA, says Labour

Arlene Foster says British Labour leader is ‘beyond the pale’ for supporting republicans

Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called “refusal” to condemn the IRA in a TV interview is a “dead cat”, his party’s education secretary has said.

The British Labour leader came under fire following a television interview on Sunday in which he faced repeated questions over whether he condemned the Republican group.

Mr Corbyn, who attended rallies and protests organised by the Republican-backed Troops Out Movement in the 1980s, said he condemned "all bombing" but would not single out the IRA on Sky News's Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Angela Rayner said: “I think it’s a bit of a dead cat because the Conservatives know that at the moment they are on the rack, because they are trying to bring in a dementia tax which will hurt older people.


"Jeremy Corbyn on Sophy Ridge did condemn the bombing (by the) IRA, he did condemn that bombing and he was quite clear about that.

"Labour have got a proud record, under Tony Blair we brought about the peace process in Northern Ireland.

"Jeremy has been absolutely clear, he condemns the bombing by the IRA in Northern Ireland and we want to continue to see that peace process flourish."

The issue is set to be raised Monday by DUP leader Arlene Foster who has accused Mr Corbyn of being beyond the "political pale" because of his past support for Irish republican groups.

DUP-Conservative pact

In a speech, she is expected to attack the British Labour leader's democratic credentials and voice support for his Conservative rival Theresa May.

“While Theresa May is well within the political mainstream and has proven herself to be a solid and reliable unionist, Jeremy Corbyn is beyond the political pale,” Ms Foster says, according to a pre-released script.

“It is hard to take seriously the democratic credentials of a man who was so close to the political representatives of the IRA at the height of the Troubles.

“It is hard to see much good coming for the Labour party from the coming election, except the replacement of their leader.”

Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell have faced scrutiny over their past association with Irish republicans.

Before the IRA ceasefire, they controversially met with Sinn Féin a number of times in Westminster during the 1990s.

Mr McDonnell has apologised for comments he made in 2003 praising the IRA’s “bravery”.

After becoming British Labour leader in 2015, Mr Corbyn defended his reaching out to republicans during the Troubles - insisting he “wanted the violence to stop”.

On Sunday, British security minister Ben Wallace, a former army officer who served in Northern Ireland, said: "People up and down the country will rightly be outraged that Jeremy Corbyn won't unequivocally condemn the IRA for the bloodshed, bombs and brutal murders they inflicted on a generation of innocent people.

“Jeremy Corbyn has spent a lifetime siding with Britain’s enemies, but he and his extreme views could be leading our country and representing it abroad - negotiating with 27 EU countries in just over two weeks’ time. And it’s the British people who will pay for this for generations.”


At lunchtime on Monday, Ms Foster will address a meeting of the pro-Brexit Bruges Group in Mayfair, London, on Brexit and the Union.

Although Northern Ireland voted by 56 per cent to 44 per cent in favour of Remain in last June’s referendum on the UK’s EU membership, the DUP campaigned for Brexit.

Ms Foster will say: “Who could deny that the situation of Northern Ireland within the UK, and indeed Ireland within the EU, will face different challenges from other areas affected by the UK’s EU exit and will require unique and tailored solutions?

“However, I do not believe that a circular argument about some ill-defined and ill-conceived so-called special status for Northern Ireland is helpful: indeed, it is more likely to be counter-productive.”

She said she was prepared to be flexible over Brexit.

“I am more interested in getting the best deal for Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole than I am in some doctrine or dogma.

"By far the best way to achieve this is to get a Stormont Executive up and running as quickly as possible."