From Irish Political Review: October 2007
The following letter has appeared in the press:
"In November the Labour Party will hold its annual conference in Wexford. Perhaps one of the most pertinent motions up for discussion will be a motion to change the Labour Party constitution to allow party members contest elections at local level in Northern Ireland.
"This motion has the potential to mark a small but critical step in transforming the political dynamic throughout the island of Ireland.
"For too long the electorate north of the Border have been forced to choose between the myopic and one-dimensional historical narratives of either nationalism or unionism. The Belfast Agreement has essentially served to institutionalise this already existing sectarian political division.
"Fianna Fáil's ambitions to organise in Northern Ireland are nothing more than a different shade of the “four green fields” nationalism already embodied by Sinn Féin.
"The Labour Party has the potential to offer a viable secular and socialist alternative. A strong active Labour Party operating on all-Ireland basis has the potential to act as a fulcrum for all progressive groups on the island who want to ensure that access to affordable house, equality in education and the protection of public services are pushed to the top of the political agenda.
"I hope that delegates to the Labour Party conference grasp this opportunity and begin the difficult but critical task of giving everyone on the island a chance to vote for a party committed to secular and socialist politics.
"Patrick Nulty (Labour Party member)… Dublin 15." (Irish Times 26.9.07).
TEXT OF MOTION:
Conference instructs the NEC bring forward the requisite amendments to Articles 5a and b of the Labour Party Constitution to facilitate contesting the next local government elections in Northern Ireland.
Submitted by: N.I. LABOUR FORUM
Constituency: Northern Ireland
Empey wedded to the Past
The Labour Forum has welcomed the prospect of Fianna Fail organisation in Northern Ireland and rejected the criticisms of the move by the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Sir Reg Empey. (The DUP seems to have treated the matter as of being no concern.) The following is a press release issued by the Forum:
Labour Party welcomes Fianna Fail move.
Labour Party National Executive member, Mark Langhammer has welcomed the challenge of Fianna Fail organising and, in time, contesting elections in Northern Ireland and has issued a stinging rebuke to Sir Reg Empey—who has criticised the move. Commenting on Sir Reg Empey, Mr Langhammer said:
"Sir Reg's knee jerk reaction is a bit rich. As far back as 1986, the Ulster Unionist Party rejected the organisation of British governmental parties—Labour and Conservative—in favour of communal attrition. The UUP expelled members campaigning for equal citizenship and access to British politics. The policy of the 'Unionist Family' (UUP and DUP alike) of "Prods" versus "Taigs"—with the Brits paying—is unsustainable and abnormal. Politics hates a vacuum. And governmental politics is the only real alternative to communal politics. Bring it on".
Further commenting on the refusal of Mark Durkan to rule out a merger with Fianna Fail, Langhammer said:
"The Labour Party will determine in our November conference at Wexford whether Labour will open the way to governmental politics and contest local elections. Mark Durkan's flirtatious response to the Fianna Fail initiative tells Labour delegates all they need to know about the state of health of the 'sister party' relationship"
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