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NI Labour Party in crisis after resignation of leading officers

By Rebecca Black

The Labour Party in Northern Ireland has been plunged into chaos following the resignation of all its leading officers.

The officers, which include chairperson Anna McAleavy, vice chair Damien Harris and secretary Kathryn Johnston, have blamed “irreconcilable difficulties” with a small minority of members who they say have joined the party since the election of leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In a statement issued on Monday night the ruling Executive said their resignations are a “heavy decision which has weighed on us for several months”. 

They have claimed that there have been “diverse and inimical political parties” secretly organising within the Labour Party Northern Ireland (LPNI) contrary to Chapter 2 of Labour Party Rulebook 2017.

The officers are LPNI Chair Anna McAleavy, Vice Chair Damien Harris, Vice Chair Membership Peter Dynes, Secretary Kathryn Johnston, Disability Officer Keith Gray and Women’s Officer Mary Sheen.

They have termed those they were referring to as a “small minority among our committed and hardworking activists, members and supporters”, but they blasted them as a “vocal and troublesome element”.

“This has presented us with irreconcilable difficulties,” they said in the statement. 

“It has unfortunately become necessary for us to resign so that there may be a period of calm and reflection before UK Labour National Executive Committee begin their review of LPNI right to stand.

“We will be meeting the NEC panel to discuss our recommendations, which include a complete restructuring of the NI membership as a regional structure, much like Scotland and Wales, and the subsequent establishment of local branches.

“We will still be attending national conference, we will continue campaigning in our local areas and around our particular responsibilities, and will still be active within our trades unions and community and tenants’ organisations.”

The local resignations come after it emerged in March of this year that 26,000 members of Labour have quit the party since Jeremy Corbyn’s reelection as leader.

The leaked data reported by The Times showed total Labour membership at 528,180, down from a peak of 554,000 in July, but still far above the 200,000 members it reportedly had in May 2015.

The Labour Party does not stand election candidates in Northern Ireland because it has a pact with the SDLP.

It has been a bone of contention between the party locally and it’s GB headquarters.

Last month Matt Beeching, secretary of the Upper Bann Branch of the LPNI, staged a six day hunger strike in protest at the policy.

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