19/05/2017 17:40 BST | Updated 19/05/2017 17:41 BST

John McDonnell IRA Apology Does Not Excuse 'Insensitive And Hurtful' Comments, Says Bomb Victim's Dad

Attempts to apologise are just 'background noise'

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John McDonnell’s apology for praising the IRA does not excuse his ‘hurtful and insensitive actions’ at the time, the dad of a young bomb victim said today.

Colin Parry, whose 12-year-old son Tim died in the Warrington bomb blast in 1993, said the Shadow Chancellor was ‘clearly trying to balance his comments’ when grilled at an election campaign press conference in London.

McDonnell appeared alongside shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey to talk about the impact of Tory benefit cuts on pensioners.

But he was asked by a journalist what he would say to older people who remembered the IRA bombings who might be concerned about a man who had spoken in the past about the bravery of the IRA, for which he apologised.

“For him to expect that people who were victims would find it acceptable for a man who is Shadow Chancellor and potentially Chancellor to suggest that the perpetrators of such attacks merit awards for bravery is frankly incredible,” said Mr Parry, who is now a peace campaigner. 

PA Archive/PA Images
Colin Parry with wife Wendy during a memorial service for the Warrington bomb blast.

“It was incredibly insensitive and hurtful at the time and it seems to be coming back to haunt him.

“He is clearly now at pains to balance what he said, which to some extent his broader comments do, but anyone who says things like that, whenever they say them, should seriously reflect on how worrying it is to hold those views.

“But the things that people remember are him eulogising over people who did what they did. The rest is just background noise.

“It must horrify him now and I’m sure he would take the things he said back if he could, but the reality is he said them.”

McDonnell, who drew huge criticism when he called for former militants to be ‘honoured’ during a memorial service for hunger striker Bobby Sands, told the press conference he apologised for his language at the time.

He added repeatedly: “No cause is worth an innocent life.”