Diane Abbott gave her explicit support to the IRA during an interview with a pro-republican journal, archives have revealed.
Speaking in 1984, Abbott said that Ireland “is our struggle — every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us. A defeat in Northern Ireland would be a defeat indeed.”
Abbott, then a Labour councillor added: “Though I was born here in London, I couldn’t identify as British.
“Anyone who comes from a former colony knows the troops always have to come out.”
Referring to Northern Ireland as an “enclave of white supremacist ideologies,” she spoke against Labour’s official policy of seeking unionist consent, saying: “Should we have waited to win the consent of the white racists in Zimbabwe?”
The comments were uncovered by The Sunday Times, which found them in an archive copy of Labour and Ireland, the journal of the Labour Committee on Ireland (LCI). The committee was a small pro-republican support group active in the party in the 1980s and early 1990s, at the height of the IRA’s armed activities.
Abbott, who will be Home Secretary if Labour are victorious in next month’s general election, was a regular speaker at events organised by LCI, as was Labour’s current leader Jeremy Corbyn. The group was chaired for a time by John McDonnell, in line to be Chancellor if Labour win a majority.
The group also organised a number of events with Sinn Fein, including, in 1989, a controversial fringe meeting with Gerry Adams and Corbyn held near the Grand Hotel in Brighton, which just five years earlier had been the scene of an IRA bomb attack intended to take out the Conservative government. Five people were killed while the wife of Lord Tebbit, a minister at the time, was left paralysed.
The files further disclosed that Corbyn personally took part in or led 72 separate events or actions with Sinn Fein and other pro-republican groups, including one event, in March 1991, at which Corbyn claimed that Britain’s breaches of human rights were on a par with those committed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
Corbyn was also found to have presented a petition to Downing Street on behalf of Hugh Doherty, a member of an IRA gang convicted of killing seven people, and taken part in protests against the extradition of Dessie Ellis, a key IRA bomb maker who is alleged to have been linked to around 50 deaths.
The archives further show that Corbyn’s former constituency office, which was owned by the Labour Party and part taxpayer-funded through his MPs allowance, was the scene of a number of strategy meetings held by groups sympathetic to the IRA.
The revelation comes as Corbyn gave an interview to Sky News in which he failed six times to condemn the IRA’s sustained bombing campaign.