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Northern Ireland people interested in cross-community socialism deserve the opportunity to vote for the Labour Party

Democratic deficit

Earlier this week at the Labour Party annual conference in Liverpool, two very significant developments occurred.

Firstly, at the Labour Irish Forum, leading NEC representatives announced that the party had not yet completed its review of the situation whereby Labour refuses to stand candidates in elections in Northern Ireland.

The LPNI delegation was told that a major reason for this delay was the fact that the SDLP was perhaps on the verge of merging with Fianna Fail. Historically, Labour has regarded the SDLP as a sister party.

As chair of LPNI, I pointed out that Labour ought to be offering the opportunity of cross-community socialist politics to the people of the North of Ireland now, irrespective of the political manoeuvres of the SDLP. Besides, the fact that the SDLP is engaged in merger talks with Fianna Fail, and not Irish Labour, surely disqualifies it from any pretensions of sister party status.

In addition, the LPNI delegation exposed the SDLP's sectarian nature and reactionary stance on women's reproductive rights. We were successful in persuading the Labour's Women's Conference to adopt a motion calling for full abortion rights for women in NI. The motion also called upon the Labour Party to sever its ties with the SDLP.

A second major development was the statement by Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union. In response to questions raised by myself, McCluskey said that Unite was moving towards a policy of Labour running candidates in Northern Ireland.

The people of Northern Ireland deserve the democratic right to be able to vote Labour.

Padraig Murphy

Chair Labour Party NI

Lisnaskea

Belfast Telegraph

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