Speaking to Sky News Sunday morning Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn failed six times to condemn the IRA over their bombing campaign in the 1980s and 1990s.
In a wide ranging interview with Sky News’s Sophie Ridge, Corbyn was asked repeatedly to condemn the IRA bombing campaign – and declined each time. The full transcript is as follows:
Sophie Ridge: “Can you condemn unequivocally the IRA?”
Jeremy Corbyn: “Look, bombing is wrong, all bombing is wrong. Of course I condemn it.”
SR: “But you’re condemning all bombing. Can you condemn the IRA without equating it to – ?”
JC: “No, I think what you have to say is all bombing has to be condemned and you have to bring about a peace process.”
SR: “So do you condemn the IRA?”
JC: “In the 1980s Britain was looking for a military solution in Ireland. It clearly was never going to work, ask anyone in the British army at that time and therefore you have to seek a peace process. You condemn the violence of those that laid bombs that killed large numbers of innocent people and I do.”
SR: “So can you condemn the IRA?”
JC: “I’ve just condemned all those who did bombing, all those on both sides that laid bombs.”
SR: “But can you condemn the IRA without equating the IRA, who were responsible for 60 per cent of the deaths during the troubles, with the British security services who were responsible for ten percent?”
JC: “There were loyalist bombs as well, which you haven’t mentioned.”
SR: “Yes, 30 percent.”
JC: “There were loyalist bombs as well. I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”
SR: “But you won’t – ”
JC “– I don’t know quite what point you’re trying to make here.
“Those of us that wanted peace in Ireland worked very hard for it. That Labour government in 1997 worked very effectively to achieve that.
“It was the Thatcher Government that was going in – after the collapse of Sunningdale – went very much in the direction of a military solution which clearly didn’t work.
“Hence we eventually got the agreements and the ceasefire, which was painstaking but we got there.
“But the fundamentals of the accord are actually that you recognise all the historical traditions in Ireland, both the unionist and nationalist traditions.”
SR: “So you don’t believe you did anything wrong, and that you have nothing to apologise for.”
JC: “I represent a constituency that had many people who been criminalised under the PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act]. I represented people who had been wrongly put in prison for a very long time for crimes they did not commit.
“I recognised that you had to bring about a peace process in Ireland, I did my best to assist in that process and that is the way you bring about people anywhere in the world.”
The interview comes as archives dating back to the early 1980s have revealed two key allies of Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and shadow chancellor John McDonnell also showed support for pro-republican groups at that time.