30/05/2003

Trimble calls for expulsion of 'honour IRA' Labour MP

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has slammed remarks made by a Labour MP at a gathering in London to commemorate IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

Former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble, outraged at the remarks, called for John McDonnell to be expelled from the Labour party.

In a statement Mr Trimble said: "Mr McDonnell's remarks about the IRA, apart from being completely wrong, are crass, insensitive and an insult to the thousands of British people, police and servicemen who have been murdered, maimed or bereaved by the actions of these terrorists.

"To label terrorists as brave and to lay blame for the murders, bombs and beatings of Irish Republicans at the Government's door is a disgusting accusation. Mr McDonnells statement is much worse than any comments made by George Galloway.

"He should be expelled immediately from the Labour Party."

According to The Sun newspaper, John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, claimed that the IRA's war against the British had been responsible for the current peace process and that members of the IRA should be honoured for their role in Northern Ireland's 'Troubles'.

He said bombs and bullets had brought Britain to the negotiating table.

He was quoted as saying: “The peace we have now is due to the unilateral action of the IRA. Without their struggle there would have been no negotiations.

"It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in that armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table.

“The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.”

“The deaths of innocent civilians in IRA attacks is a real tragedy but it was as a result of British occupation of Ireland. Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.”

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Quentin Davies also criticised the remarks. He said: "It's almost unbelievable that an MP should heap praise on those who have murdered our fellow citizens".

(MB)

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