The peerage of a Brexiteer politician who supported the IRA bombing of Warrington has been branded a ‘double slap in the face’ as a charity set up after the attack faces a funding crisis.
Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Louise Haigh called the appointment for Claire Fox ‘astonishingly offensive’ as she visited the headquarters of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation in Warrington on Friday.
The charity, set up after three-year-old Johnathan and 12-year-old Tim were killed in the attack on March 20 1993, had its government funding stopped in March and could face closure by the end of August.
Local Labour MP Charlotte Nichols, who was also on the visit, said the appointment of the former Brexit Party MEP to the House of Lords had caused ‘absolute revulsion’ in the town.
She said: ‘The fact these things have come at the same time is a double slap in the face, not only for the people that the peace centre supports, but the families of the Warrington bombing victims themselves, but also the whole community because I think it speaks to a real insult to Warrington.’
Fox, who represented the Brexit Party in Brussels, was formerly a senior activist in the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).
At the time of the attack, an RCP newsletter stated that the party defended ‘the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures necessary in their struggle for freedom’.
Fox, who has not apologised for her position at the time but has said she does not condone violence, is due to head to the Lords after being included on a 36-strong peerage list.
Haigh said: ‘I have heard very clearly the deep upset and frustration that that appointment has caused and it is wholly within Boris Johnson’s gift to both block Claire Fox’s peerage and to deliver security for the invaluable work that the peace centre does here in Warrington.
‘I think it is really hurting the people that are doing the work here, but more importantly it’s hurting the victims of terrorism that the Peace Centre have been supporting.’
Chief executive Nick Taylor said the charity had only been able to continue its work since March thanks to donations from a charity set up by Redrow founder, Steve Morgan.
Taylor told the PA news agency: ‘The Claire Fox situation just doesn’t help. The level of upset it creates to our founders and people affected by the Warrington bombing is off the scale.’
He said between £150,000 and £200,000 a year of government funding is needed for the foundation, which saw 1,000 referrals in the wake of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, to carry on.
In March, Johnson pledged that the government would do everything it could to keep the foundation going but since then there has been no confirmation of funding, Taylor said.
‘I think the prime minister, from what we can see of him, if he saw the Peace Centre and experienced the work we do our situation would be sorted within minutes,’ he said.
‘It is such a shame we are having to push like this.’