Keir Starmer ‘continuing 23-year snub’ of 1,000+ NI Labour members

The Northern Ireland branch of the Labour Party has denounced Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for coming to Northern Ireland on a three-day visit, but failing to meet with local members.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 3:37 pm
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Louise Haigh at Stormont on Thursday

Sir Keir met local parties, community groups and others, and gave several interviews, including one with the News Letter.

He told the BBC the Labour Party supports the Union, something which prompted criticism from veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott, who highlighted the party’s link with the nationalist SDLP and said that Labour was not unionist.

For years Labour members have fought for the right to stand candidates in Northern Ireland but always been rejected by the party hierarchy.

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Boyd Black, the longstanding secretary of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, said: “Like all previous Labour leaders in place since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, he did not meet with the well over one thousand Labour Party members in Northern Ireland in LPNI.

“He is reported to have had dinner with the SDLP in Derry. He did not have a cup of tea with us. Labour Party members in Northern Ireland wish to ensure the success of the Good Friday Agreement by building a cross-community, inclusive Labour Party here.

“This will challenge sectarianism in all its forms and present a progressive political platform which will tackle the pervasive unfairness in our society and come up with solutions to the problems underlying this in areas such as employment, housing, education and health.”

Mr Black said that polling indicated that many people in Northern Ireland “desperately want a change”.

He added: “We in the Labour Party here want to lead this change.

“But to do so, we need to have our shackles removed by the Labour leadership. We need Labour Party candidates standing in our elections with full official backing.

“Unfortunately, party policy is to block change, ignore the Labour voice and suppress Labour electoral activity.”