SHADOW Northern Ireland Secretary Vernon Coaker attended the Irish Labour Party conference in Galway marking 100 years since the party was formed.
The MP for Gedling in Nottinghamshire, who was appointed to the Northern Ireland role in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet reshuffle last October, addressed the Irish party’s faithful, who were out in force for the three day conference last week.
Taking the floor he commended the Irish Labour Party for working consistently hard for Ireland’s people, but warned of the need to keep building on the strong bonds between Britain and Ireland and their respective Labour parties.
“In the one hundred years of your existence, you have provided inspiration to democratic socialist parties across the world,” he said. “And nowhere is your influence felt more than in my party and the trade union movement in Britain. What Edinburgh and Liverpool gave you in Connolly and Larkin has been repaid in many more cities in Britain so many times over, and that such a large number of my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party have Irish backgrounds is a testament to that.”
He added: “The ties between Britain and Ireland are bonds of people, places and history. Our shared past is complicated, intense and has often been marred by conflict and division. But in this year, the one hundredth anniversary of the Irish Labour Party, the third Home Rule Bill and the Ulster Covenant, the relationship is transformed.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder now as friends and neighbours and the special link between our countries has deepened, widened and developed as we both strive for a fairer, more equal and more just society where opportunity is available to all regardless of background, gender, ethnicity or sexuality.”