Labour in Blackpool: Ulster shift aims to reassure the Unionist majority

THE Labour Party signalled a shift of policy last night on Northern Ireland with a statement moving a Labour government away from acting as a persuader for a united Ireland by consent.

A policy statement issued by the party's ruling National Executive Committee does not go as far as adopting total neutrality on the objective of a united Ireland, but it is calculated to reassure the Unionist majority.

'It means we will talk as far as possible to all points of view in Ireland. The question of persuasion tended to be seen in a unilateral direction and this is designed to ensure we talk to everybody to try and accept a balance,' Larry Whitty, the general secretary of the Labour Party, who is being moved to a new post, said.

It is certain to provoke a heated debate at the party conference on Wednesday, when some Labour activists on Ulster will seek to pass an emergency motion calling for a more explicit commitment for a Labour government to consult all interested parties in a further move to answer Unionist concerns.

The leadership does not expect to be defeated on the policy, which has the backing of Kevin McNamara, the Labour spokesman on Northern Ireland, who will also take part in the debate.

There are Unionist supporters in Labour's ranks who were keen to shift the party towards a campaigning role in Ulster, something which it has strongly resisted in favour of steering support towards the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

John Hume, the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, who has been recommended by Members of the European Parliament for the Nobel peace prize, will also speak in the debate.

The NEC motion pays tribute to Mr Hume and reaffirms the party's commitment to the unification of Ireland by consent, including an assurance that it should be by the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland - accepting the so-called 'Unionist veto' attacked last week by Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president.

It pledges that Labour, in opposition and in government, 'will seek to facilitate and encourage a balanced constitutional settlement leading to an agreement which will have the support of both traditions in Ireland'.

The motion welcomes the British Government's recognition in the Downing Street declaration that it is for the people of Ireland alone to exercise their right of self- determination, and the Irish government's recognition that this right must be exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before