Northern Ireland Labour Party

From Academic Kids

The Northern Ireland Labour Party was a political party which operated from 1924 until the 1980s.

It was founded as a socialist political party by groups including the Belfast Labour Party and found its main bed of support amongst working class voters in Belfast. It initially declined to take a position on the "Border Question" and instead sought to offer itself as a non-sectarian body. It maintained relations with the British Labour Party who did not allow membership or organisation in the province until 2004.

In 1949, after the Irish Free State had become the Republic of Ireland, the Northern Ireland Labour Party's conference voted in favour of the Union with Great Britain. The party gained ground amongst Protestant voters, though not amongst Catholics, and saw its greatest period of success between 1958 and 1965. However with the onset of The Troubles, new parties emerged that appealed to the party's support base, including the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and the Democratic Unionist Party.

In 1971 the new Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Brian Faulkner appointed the Northern Ireland Labour Party Stormont MP David Bleakley to his Cabinet as Minister of Community Relations, in an attempt to bring reforms to the province. However the following year the Stormont Parliament was suspended. In the 1973 referendum on the province's future, the Northern Ireland Labour Party campaigned for the province to remain in the United Kingdom.

The Northern Ireland Labour Party continued to contest elections but with a dwindling support base. In 1987 the remains of the party joined with others in the campaign for the British Labour Party to organise in Northern Ireland.

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