Labour Party In The North


Sir, - If Frank Millar's report (The Irish Times, August 12th) concerning the right of people to join the Labour Party in Northern Ireland is correct, and Mo Mowlam is proving as reactionary as her predecessor, Kevin McNamara, in this regard, the future for peace, stability and normality here is very bleak indeed. Apart from seriously promoting integrated education, there is nothing more profound the British government could do towards creating a healthier society here than to belatedly establish the Labour Party in the province. Indeed, the Secretary of State herself has admitted this on more than one occasion.

It is bizarre and incomprehensible for non-nationals to be welcome in the Labour Party, while citizens of the United Kingdom are rejected simply because they live in Northern Ireland. This is not simply an anomaly, but a matter of downright discrimination, at a time when we are told that malpractice by others is totally unacceptable to the government.

Several months before the election of the Labour government in 1997, Mo Mowlam met a group of human rights activists in Co Down to discuss human rights abuses and discrimination. As a member of the delegation, and a supporter of Labour in Northern Ireland, I discussed this issue at length with her. At pains to distance herself from the rigid, anti-Ulster policies and attitudes of McNamara, she stated: "I could never offer any democratic defence of Labour's non-organisation in Northern Ireland." Pressed if she would change the policy if made Secretary of State, she smiled and added: "We shall have to see if I become Secretary of State, but you can rest assured that the policy will not remain the same if I am chosen."

It is passing strange that even when David Trimble acknowledges the need for Labour and the development of normal politics, Mo Mowlam is reneging on her promises and adopting an arrogant, autocratic attitude to the substantial Labour support that exists here. Apart from the fact that it is Labour's duty to support the democratic principle, the people as a whole are entitled to equal rights with the rest of the population of the UK as highlighted in your report. - Yours, etc., Sean O Cearnaigh,

Glantane Drive, Belfast 15.