Ahern: "We don't want to dig up the animosities of the past"

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Bertie Ahern

By Michael McHugh, Press Association

A former Irish premier who helped to end decades of violence in Northern Ireland has warned against digging up old animosities.

Ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern said relations between Ireland and Britain had greatly improved since the pre-ceasefire days when Jeremy Corbyn was associating with Sinn Fein.

The Labour leader has said he wanted the bombings and shootings to stop but refused to single out the IRA for condemnation during recent interviews.

Mr Ahern said: "We certainly don't want to dig up any of the enmities, animosities of the past.

"We hope that we find in the new British Government after June 8 that they will work with us to find solutions, that we can continue to move our people over trade and build on relationships and we certainly don't want to go back into the past."

Mr Ahern worked with former prime minister Tony Blair and Northern Ireland politicians to secure the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which largely ended 30 years of trouble in Northern Ireland.

The retired Dublin politician told ITV's Good Morning Britain programme: "The IRA campaign thankfully ended almost 20 years ago.

"The IRA 15 years ago have stated that the war was over, the conflict was over and arms have been put beyond use, the decommissioning issue was dealt with, so hopefully all that is in the past.

"Of course we all condemn the violence of all sides in the past and we want to move on.

"Jeremy Corbyn, I think, always kept the door open to Sinn Fein during those difficult days but we want to get away from the violence of the past and hopefully that never returns."

He said Ireland had built up a really good relationship with the UK.

"We have had a difficult past, about 800 years of it, we want to get on with having a cordial relationship, we have had royal visits now, we have had political visits, we want to find ways that we can continue to develop outside of the EU for the UK now."

Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell have faced scrutiny over their association with Irish republicans.

Before the IRA ceasefire they controversially met Sinn Fein a number of times in Westminster during the 1990s.

Mr McDonnell has apologised for comments he made praising the IRA's "bravery" in 2003.

After becoming Labour leader in 2015, Mr Corbyn defended reaching out to republicans during the Troubles - insisting he "wanted the violence to stop".

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