Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Northern Ireland have been the subject of much discussion during the election campaign.
It’s no secret that the Labour leader has long supported the end of British rule in Ulster, and that he met the leaders of Sinn Fein and other Republicans in the 1980s and 1990s, when the Provisional IRA was still bombing and shooting people.
Judging by some of the reaction on social media to last night’s interview with Jeremy Paxman, there is still some confusion about exactly what Mr Corbyn said and did during the Troubles.
Did Corbyn really vote for the Good Friday Agreement?
That’s what he told Paxman, but some of FactCheck’s Twitter followers believe otherwise.
We think people are getting confused between the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which Corbyn voted and spoke against, and the Good Friday Agreement.
The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed by the British government of Margaret Thatcher and her Irish counterpart Garret Fitzgerald in 1985, and is seen by some as an important stepping-stone in the peace process.
But at the time, the treaty was opposed by many unionists as well as Sinn Fein and the IRA, and it failed to stop paramilitary violence in the province.
Corbyn voted against it and spoke against it in parliament, saying: “We believe that the agreement strengthens rather than weakens the border between the six and the 26 counties, and those of us who wish to see a United Ireland oppose the agreement for that reason.”
The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a deal involving London, Dublin and most Northern Ireland parties including Sinn Fein and unionist parties also linked to paramilitary groups.
It had a much more dramatic effect on reducing violence and is considered by many to mark the effective end of the Troubles.
Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the agreement and along with the vast majority of MPs in Westminster, he endorsed it by voting for the Northern Ireland Bill in July 1998, saying: “We look forward to peace, hope and reconciliation in Ireland in the future.”
Has he refused to condemn the IRA?
Corbyn has given interviews in which he has been challenged to condemn the IRA’s campaign of violence unequivocally – without equating it to other parties involved in the conflict – and has declined to do so.
He was repeatedly asked if he condemned IRA violence specifically in an interview with BBC Radio Ulster in 2015, but answered by saying “I condemn all bombing” and then: “I condemn what was done by the British Army as well as the other sides as well.”
In a more recent interview with Sophy Ridge of Sky News, he again offered a general condemnation of violence but refused to single out republican paramilitaries, saying: “I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”
The day after this interview, PoliticsHome quoted Mr Corbyn’s team as saying that IRA murders should be condemned unequivocally, and that “the IRA clearly committed acts of terrorism”.
Did Corbyn meet IRA members?
It’s well known that Corbyn met with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams regularly at the height of the Troubles in the 1980s.
This was considered controversial at the time, although there was nothing illegal in the meetings and Mr Corbyn consistently said he maintained links with Sinn Fein to work for a resolution to the armed conflict.
It is now known that the British government maintained contact to the IRA leadership through a secret back channel for much of this period too.
The Labour leader has been less forthcoming about his contact with people actually convicted of terror offences, although some of these meetings are well documented too.
In December 1984, two weeks after an IRA bomb killed five at the Tory Party conference in Brighton, Corbyn invited convicted IRA volunteers Linda Quigley and Gerry MacLochlainn to the House of Commons. It caused uproar at the time.
But in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil last week, 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.”
On Sunday, 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’s not clear whether MacLochlainn and Quigley fall into this category.
It is fair to say that Corbyn has campaigned on behalf of people like the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, who were convicted of terrorism, only for the convictions to be overturned later.
And of course, Northern Ireland’s unusual history means that many people convicted of serious crimes during the conflict were either elected politicians at the time or became so later.
Has he ever condoned or supported violence?
Corbyn has consistently said he is against violence and wanted to see an end to the armed conflict in Northern Ireland.
Some have accused him of involvement in a notorious edition of the magazine London Labour Briefing which appeared to praise or make light of the 1984 Brighton conference bombing.
The editorial board said that “the British only sit up and take notice when they are bombed into it” and saw fit to include a number of jokes about the attack sent in by readers.
The extent of Corbyn’s personal involvement in this issue of the magazine remains unclear.
He has been described by several sources as being either a member of the editorial board of the magazine and its general secretary.
But earlier this month he told Sophy Ridge: “I read the magazine. I wrote for the magazine. I was not a member of the editorial board. I didn’t agree with it. I don’t agree with that position.”
Some critics insist he had a closer relationship with the magazine than this suggests, but we have not been able to find hard evidence of Corbyn having a hand in the writing of the infamous editorial.