MO MOWLAM hit out at Jeremy Corbyn for inviting Sinn Fein’s president Gerry Adams to the House of Commons and branded the move “offensive”, unearthed footage reveals.
Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Northern Ireland have been the subject of much discussion over the years. The Labour leader has long supported the end of British rule in Ulster, and met the leaders of Sinn Fein and other Republicans in the Eighties and Nineties – at the height of the Troubles. The left-winger has given several interviews in which he has been asked to condemn the IRA’s campaign of violence unequivocally – without equating it to other parties involved in the conflict – but has always declined to do so.
Mr Corbyn’s association with Gerry Adams was the source of particular controversy during the late Nineties as then Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Tony Blair pushed the Northern Ireland peace process.
Although there was nothing illegal about the meetings, Mr Corbyn, together with Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell, were heavily condemned by their own party leadership for doing so.
Mr Blair threatened to eject Mr Corbyn from the party for his “reprehensible” behaviour in inviting Mr Adams to Westminster in 1996, which reportedly came soon after “the discovery of IRA plans to launch lorry bomb attacks on London”.
Moreover, in an interview unearthed on Twitter by user “Corbyn In the Times”, Mo Mowlam, a key Labour figure in securing the Good Friday Agreement, also hit out at Mr Corbyn for the move.
She said: “I think it was offensive to go ahead at this time.
“And I think the Labour leadership acted timely in its decision [to condemn Mr Corbyn].
“What I would like Mr Adams to do is to spend more time trying to get the IRA to call a ceasefire rather than promoting his book.”
Ms Mowlam, who died in August 2005, was widely praised for bringing her distinctive personality to peace talks which kept loyalists and republicans at the negotiating table.
After her death, Mr Blair said it was “no exaggeration” to say that her “determination, charm and sheer life force” transformed the political landscape in Northern Ireland and changed the relationship between the Republic and the UK.
It was not the first time Mr Corbyn had invited controversial figures to the House of Commons, though.
In October 1984, at the height of the Troubles, the Labour politician invited convicted IRA volunteers Linda Quigley and Gerry MacLochlainn in Westminster.
However, in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil in 2017, Mr Corbyn said: “I never met the IRA.
“I obviously did meet people from Sinn Fein, as indeed I met people from other organisations, and I always made the point that there had to be a dialogue and a peace process.”
Moreover, in an interview with ITV’s Robert Peston, he said: “I have not spoken to the IRA.
“I’ve met former prisoners who told me they were not in the IRA.”
It is not clear whether MacLochlainn and Quigley fall into this category.