Northern Ireland news

Jeremy Corbyn denies snubbing Troubles victims of IRA

 Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn

JEREMY Corbyn has denied snubbing victims of the IRA on his first visit Belfast as Labour leader.

The DUP accused Mr Corbyn of refusing to meet some of those bereaved at the hands of republican paramilitaries during the Troubles.

The claim came after DUP MP Gregory Campbell asked the Opposition leader if he would speak to those who lost loved ones to IRA violence during his two-day visit.

Mr Corbyn said he was only notified of the invitation on Wednesday, when his schedule had already been agreed.

He said shadow Northern Ireland secretary Tony Lloyd would be happy to meet victims' groups.

"It is absolutely not a snub," said Mr Corbyn.

"I did receive a letter from Gregory Campbell yesterday. We had already made the arrangements for this visit.

"Tony Lloyd, our shadow Northern Ireland secretary, will be meeting them."

Asked if it was time for him to clarify his stance on past IRA violence, Mr Corbyn said all victims of the Troubles needed support.

"All the victims of all the violence need to be respected and their families need that support and that's why Tony is going to be meeting them," he said.

Mr Campbell said he had extended an invite to Mr Corbyn on behalf of victims nearly two weeks ago.

"His interest in Northern Ireland over the years could not be described as balanced, but as the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition in Parliament it is important that he should hear a range of views when he arrives for his first visit as Labour leader," he said.

"There will undoubtedly be a focus on the border and as such I issued an invitation to Mr Corbyn to meet with people who live near the border.

"These are people affected by the terrorism which blighted Northern Ireland for so long and whose views must be heard as part of any attempt to achieve a balanced range of views.

"Jeremy Corbyn is well known for having avoided specific issues relating to terrorism in Northern Ireland. His answer that he 'condemns all bombing' when asked about IRA terrorism is somewhat reminiscent, if different in scale, to his comments that he 'condemns all racism' when asked about anti-Semitism.

"This would have been a very useful opportunity for Jeremy Corbyn to demonstrate just how willing he is to meet people who live and work in border areas, but whose views he may not have heard face to face before.

"Unfortunately, having emailed the invitation on the morning of 14 May, hand delivered that invitation and personally invited him in a face to face interaction yesterday (Wednesday), I am still without any substantive reply.

"Yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, Mr Corbyn's office emailed me asking for my direct number. I supplied it but I have never received a call. This appears to be a blatant and deliberate snub to innocent victims."

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