Northern Ireland news


Intervention by Bloody Sunday Trust blocks union conference invite to Labour' Angela Rayner over 'shoot terrorists first ask questions later' comments

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner. Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

A BID to invite Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner to a leading trades union's conference was blocked following a "decisive" intervention by the Bloody Sunday Trust.

An emergency motion at last week's Unison conference in Brighton sought to overturn a decision by the union's executive not to invite Ms Rayner to address the event.

The union's national executive council (NEC) had 'disinvited' Ms Rayner - and one-time Unison representative - after she said in February that police should “shoot your terrorists and ask questions second.”

The remarks were criticised at the time by former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and Sonali Bhattacharyya of Momentum, who said Ms Rayner was advocating an approach that led to the "assassination" of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man shot dead Metropolitan Police officers in 2005.

Ms Rayner's exclusion from the conference was also supported by Unison's Community Branch NI, whose chairperson Niall McCarroll spoke against the motion that sought to overturn the NEC's decision.

"Angela Rayner’s comments in February of this year – that it was OK for police to shoot first and ask questions later – were met with disbelief and caused hurt for a lot of people, especially those who have lost family members through state brutality – this hurt has been particularly felt by the Bloody Sunday families," Mr McCarroll told the conference.

He said the Labour deputy leader's "dangerous" and "reckless" remarks would "give a green light to those out there who are twisted enough to sanction and carry out such atrocities as Bloody Sunday".

During his contribution, the Derry-based trades unionist read a statement from Tony Doherty, chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust, whose father Patrick was among the civil rights marchers shot dead by the British Army in January 1972.

The statement said: "Politicians need not jam the door open whereby innocent people will lose their lives. Hundreds of innocent people in Northern Ireland were murdered because they were innocent and whose names were then besmirched as terrorists by the security forces.

"If we have learnt anything from our troubled decades it is that fair and equal application of the rule of law is what we should be struggling for."

Mr McCarroll told The Irish News that the intervention from the chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust was "instrumental in swaying people's opinion and ensuring the motion was quashed".

"Everybody I spoke to afterwards said Tony's words were powerful and decisive in convincing them to to vote against the motion inviting Angela Rayner to the conference," he said.

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