Northern Ireland

Legal threat against Labour over NI candidate ban

Damien Harris Image copyright Labour NI
Image caption Damien Harris says he has lost faith in the Labour Party's review

A member of the Labour Party has warned that he will take legal action against the party over its refusal to stand candidates in Northern Ireland.

Solicitors acting for Damien Harris have written to the party saying they could take the issue to the High Court.

The BBC has seen a letter from a firm of solicitors that has been sent to the Labour Party's headquarters in England.

It claims that the bar on candidates is discriminatory and goes against human rights legislation.

Review

The party set up a review on this subject but that inquiry has been paused - a move that has been questioned by Mr Harris' legal team.

He is a member of the executive of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland.

Mr Harris said: "I, and thousands of members of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, have grown impatient at the continuing delays with the review into the rights of members in Northern Ireland to stand for election.

"We are demanding one simple thing - to be afforded the same rights of membership as any other member of the Labour Party".

He added that he had lost faith in the review process, and that "perpetuating this discriminatory prohibition is the antithesis of the very reason the Labour Party was first formed".

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It is not the first time legal action has been taken against the party - a challenge over a bar on local membership was successful which resulted in Northern Ireland supporters being allowed to join Labour.

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The Labour Party in London has been given until 2 June to respond to this latest challenge.

In response, a spokesperson for the party said the review into candidates standing in Northern Ireland has been paused because of the forthcoming general election.

They said the review will begin again after the poll on 8 June.

At the weekend, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for refusing to specifically condemn the IRA when questioned about his involvement in Northern Ireland politics.

The Labour leader said "all bombing is wrong", as he was repeatedly asked to condemn the IRA alone for its role in the Troubles.

He said he had worked hard to help secure peace in Northern Ireland.

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