Northern Ireland Labour Party must find way to be united
As A Labour Party member, like many others I joined on the back of Jeremy Corbyn's successful leadership election in 2015. Like others, I have been active in various campaigns and backed Corbyn during the leadership challenge last year and have become a committed democratic socialist.
Now, my regional party, the Labour Party in Northern Ireland (LPNI), finds itself in an internal struggle and without a functioning executive due to multiple resignations and the suspension of the executive (albeit temporarily) during investigations into alleged rulebook violations.
There have been internal battles for some time, but it always seemed that the issues were resolved and we were able to move on. But, of late, it has come to a head and many feel they cannot function within the executive.
Having been in regular contact with some of the then executive officers and other people with positions in the party, and after observing comments and debate on social media, it occurred to me that it was, in the most part, due to mistrust and suspicion.
There are some familiar comparisons in the situation with the LPNI and the current political situation with a non-functioning Northern Ireland Executive, yet the LPNI set out to challenge and criticise this impasse and the failings of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Assembly to address the social inequalities in Northern Ireland.
I myself have been guilty of this mistrust and I think all active LPNI members need to look at why we joined the Labour Party to begin with.
We should ask ourselves, are we not being a little hypocritical if we can't find a way round our own impasse and disagreements, considering what we are, or have been, challenging as a party? Isn't it time to build bridges and find a way to compromise with our differences?
This may sound very cliched, but I am reminded of the late Jo Cox MP in her maiden speech, when she said: "There is more that unites us than divides us." Particularly when we are united on so many things, like LGBTQ rights and equality, women's rights and equality, workers' rights, fighting austerity and so many other things.
Maybe it's time we concentrated on these things that unite us, rather than fighting over what divides us.
Surely, the issues that we fight for are far bigger than what annoys us or upsets us?