MP McDon­nell apol­o­gises on TV af­ter prais­ing IRA ‘brav­ery’ in 2003

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

JOHN McDon­nell has made a TV apol­ogy for his praise of IRA ‘brav­ery’ 12 years ago.

The Hayes and Har­ling­ton MP was on the panel at the BBC’s Ques­tion Time last Thurs­day night when he was con­fronted by an au­di­ence mem­ber over his con­tro­ver­sial com­ments, made in 2003.

Mr McDon­nell, who was last week ap­pointed Labour’s new shadow chan­cel­lor un­der Jeremy Cor­byn, was on record say­ing: “It’s about time we started hon­our­ing those peo­ple in­volved in the armed strug­gle. Be­cause of the brav­ery of the IRA and peo­ple like Bobby Sands, we now have a peace process.”

But last week the MP said his choice of words had been a ‘mis­take’.

He told the au­di­ence at Brent Civic Cen­tre, and host David Dim­bleby: “I think it needs ex­plain­ing.

“In the 80s and 90s, we thought that the bombs and bul­lets would con­tinue on for­ever.

“We lost 3,000 peo­ple. I met many of their fam­i­lies on both sides.

“In 2003, we were try­ing to im­press upon all sides that we should sign the peace process, the Good Fri­day Agree­ment.”

Mr McDon­nell added: “Many were ar­gu­ing they would con­tinue what they called the armed strug­gle and I went out and ar­gued for the peace process and I made this speech to a group of repub­li­cans.”

He said if repub­li­cans felt they were ‘de­feated or hu­mil­i­ated’ there would be a re­turn to the dark days of the Trou­bles.

“I think my choice of words were wrong. I should not have said that,” he said.

“I ac­cept it was a mis­take to use those words, but if it con­trib­uted to sav­ing one life or pre­vent­ing some­one be­ing maimed then it was worth do­ing.

“If I gave of­fence, and I clearly have, then from the bot­tom of my heart I apol­o­gise.”

He also apol­o­gised for a joke he made in 2010 that he would like to ‘go back to the 1980s and as­sas­si­nate [Mar­garet] Thatcher’.

Grilled by an au­di­ence mem­ber, he said: “It was an ap­palling joke.

“It’s ended my ca­reer in stand-up, let’s put it that way, and I apol­o­gise for it as well.

“It was an off-the-cuff re­mark.”

Prime min­is­ter David Cameron blasted Mr McDon­nell’s com­ments on the IRA dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions last Wed­nes­day.

The PM said: “I have a sim­ple view which is the ter­ror­ism we faced was wrong.

“It was un­jus­ti­fi­able – the death and the killing was wrong.

“It was never jus­ti­fied and peo­ple who seek to jus­tify it should be ashamed of them­selves.”

n APOL­OGY: MP John McDon­nell

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