Legacy of Hume must be respected and preserved
Labour will support those who continue to fly the flag of Labour politics and social democracy in Northern Ireland.
Reacting to the latest indication of a possible alliance between parts of the SDLP and Fianna Fáil, Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin said:
“It is a matter for the membership of the SDLP to chart their future direction. But I am conscious that many in the SDLP feel closer to the Labour tradition than to the conservative nationalism of Fianna Fáil.
“I am mindful of the links built up by John Hume and others with our sister parties in the Party of European Socialists. These links were instrumental in building up support for Northern Ireland across Europe. That support is visible today in relation to the Brexit negotiations and the EU’s willingness to continue to provide PEACE funding for reconciliation projects.
“At our own Conference in November, I said that the Labour Party would step in if the SDLP allies with Fianna Fáil. What that means is that we will actively support our comrades in Northern Ireland to continue to put a social democratic option to the people at elections.
“People in Northern Ireland must be empowered to lead on how to pursue Labour politics, not dictated to by any party from south of the border. Rather than Fianna Fáil’s secretive and controlling approach, Labour will take our lead from our Northern Irish friends and colleagues. Our support will be based on what they tell us they need to promote Labour politics and social democracy in Northern Ireland.
“We also recognise that the first step must be to get the Good Friday institutions up and running again.
“Labour has a long history of working with and supporting the SDLP, and our representatives meet regularly, including at our annual meeting at the British Labour Party Conference.
“Whatever the outcome of this current process, we will continue to be a steadfast friend to those in Northern Ireland who support the Labour tradition.”