The Labour Party are considering fielding candidates in Northern Ireland

Members of Labour's NEC have said that there is growing evidence to suggest that the time is right for Labour.

The Labour Party is in the process of reviewing its policy on Northern Ireland candidates.

In a joint statement, Sir George Howarth MP and Luke Akehurst, both who sit on Labour’s National Executive Committee, said: “We strongly believe that the time is now right for our party to take some cautious steps towards providing voters there [NI] the opportunity to vote for Labour Party candidates.”

Historically the Labour Party have not contested elections in Northern Ireland, instead opting to support the Social Democratic and Labour Party. Some of the party’s supporters have stood for election as members of the Labour Party Northern Ireland.

Until 2003 you could not join the Labour Party if you lived in Northern Ireland. This was changed following a vote by party members.

The Labour Party Northern Ireland’s constitution says that once Labour lifts its ban on fielding candidates for NI elections, they will disband.

The statement by Sir George Howarth MP and Luke Akehurst continues: “There are two compelling reasons why we have arrived at that conclusion. First, there is growing evidence that, post the Good Friday Agreement, there is a sizable group of people in Northern Ireland who, regardless of their religious and constitutional preferences, increasingly want the option to vote for parties not rooted in the sectarianism of the past.”

“Secondly, there is a functioning Labour Party (LPNI) in the country which has the appetite and ambition to field candidates in order to provide an option to vote for a non-sectarian centre-left party. Moreover, affiliated trade unions have significant membership there (in many cases on a cross-border basis), 40,000 of whom pay the political levy.”

The statement also highlighted that although there is a lot of “common ground” between Labour and the SDLP, the fact that they are an avowed nationalist party is problematic for voters who do not identify themselves in such terms.

In a recent Lucid Talk poll, 32% of respondents said that Labour Party Northern Ireland should contest elections in Northern Ireland.

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