NI Labour denies claims of infiltration after officers quit

Secretary Kathryn Johnston was among those to quit their positions
Secretary Kathryn Johnston was among those to quit their positions

The troubled executive committee of the Northern Ireland Labour Party has denied allegations of political infiltration levelled by six resigning members.

The chairman, vice chairman and four other committee members quit on Monday night claiming a “vocal and troublesome element” within the local party was secretly involved with other parties.

The walk-out comes ahead of a planned review by the National Executive Committee of the UK Labour Party on whether it will lift its long-standing ban on members running for election in Northern Ireland.

The LPNI has more than 2,000 members.

Yesterday, its executive committee rejected the claims made by the six departing officer holders.

The resignations happened prior to the start of a scheduled committee meeting on Monday night. The six vacancies were subsequently filled.

The new-look committee denied the claims of political infiltration and claimed the departed six were set to be challenged by grassroots members on a number of issues before they quit.

The committee issued a statement saying it was “united on policy”.

“The executive committee of the Labour Party NI rejects allegations made by former members of the committee, following their resignations tendered on August 7 2017,” it read.

The statement added: “Following a harmonious and productive EC meeting last night, LPNI EC is fully committed to reinvigorating the development of a grassroots-driven Labour Party in Northern Ireland.

“LPNI aims to provide a much needed cross-community socialist alternative to the dead-end politics of sectarian conflict.”

The six resigned committee members will remain members of the party.

In a joint statement, they said: ‘We do not resign lightly. Instead, it is a heavy decision which has weighed on us for several months.

“It became evident from a very early stage that there are diverse and inimical political parties secretly organising within the LPNI contrary to Chapter 2 of Labour Party Rulebook 2017.

“Although these are a small minority among our committed and hard-working activists, members and supporters, they are a vocal and troublesome element.

“This has presented us with irreconcilable difficulties. 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.”

They added: “We hope comrades will bear with us during this testing time.”