Labour Party Irish Society

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Group.png Labour Party Irish Society   Facebook Twitter WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom

The Labour Party Irish Society (LPIS) is a collective body of Labour Party members of Irish birth or descent, and those interested in Ireland and Irish affairs, which promotes the interests of the Irish in Britain as a whole, and encourages Irish people to become involved in the Labour Party and politics generally.[1]

The LPIS is a socialist society affiliated to the British Labour Party with the ability to delegate members to each Constituency Labour Party and influence decisions and candidate selections at CLP meetings. On 5 August 2019, SKWAWKBOX reported that LPIS had received an OK – from what one insider dubbed ‘legacy’ officials of Labour’s London region – to participate in the approaching ‘trigger’ votes to decide whether Labour MPs will face a fresh selection contest. However, LPIS is not entitled to such a vote under the party’s rules, as according to Labour Party sources, it does not have constituency-based branches, at least in the capital.[2]


On 1 December 2017, LPIS posted the following on its Facebook page:

Labour MP Kate Hoey claimed "it might not be too long" before Ireland followed the UK in voting to leave the EU.

But that claim was branded "delusional and ignorant" by Irish Senator Neale Richmond who quoted a poll showing 88% support for his nation to stay in.

Shame to see a British MP telling the Irish whats good for them. The recent collapse of Anglo-Irish relations is a growing concern for the UK Irish community and for LPIS.

Brexit does not mean the return to pass but the outright lies being spread about the Irish in recent weeks relating to Brexit is a worrying state of affairs.

A common one used is the EU is imposing a border, not us. The Irish will have to pay for the border. So, let me get this right…the central message of Brexit was for Britain to “take control of its borders”. But, the only land border you have with anyone, you don’t want to take control of it?[3]

Executive Committee

EC officers of the LPIS as elected in June 2016[4] and confirmed in October 2017[5] are:

  • Chair: Rita Conneely
  • Deputy Chair: Deirdre Costigan
  • Deputy Chair: Tom McGarry
  • Secretary: Chris Fegan
  • Treasurer: Liz McShane
  • Trade Union Liaison: Gerard McGrath
  • Membership Secretary: Daniel O'Loughlin
  • Youth & Student Officer: Patrick Moule
  • LGBT Officer: Richard Angell
  • Community Liaison: Muhammad al Hassani
  • Womens: Paula Kelly
  • Honorary Presidents:
    • Roy Kennedy, Baron Kennedy of Southwark
    • Margaret McDonagh, Baroness McDonagh
  • Committee Members:
    • Roisin Bennett
    • Matthew Doyle
    • Allison Roche
    • Martin Whelton

"Disgraceful" AGM

On 25 October 2017, the Labour Party Irish Society (LPIS) held its AGM at Portcullis House, Westminster. It was reportedly a disgrace – and a number of Labour MPs and officials have serious questions to answer about behaviour that, if multiply-sourced allegations are true, shows utter contempt for democracy and the party’s/society’s membership.

One LPIS member, Liam McNulty, complained on his Facebook page:

Interesting night at the Labour Party Irish Society AGM, to say the least.

I was told that the AGM would be busy. I am a library worker and finished work at 17:30, so I legged it down to Westminster for an 18:30 start. Despite arriving 45 minutes before the start, I had to queue outside Portcullis House to get through security. This would not be an issue if Progress did not come out and pick their mates from the queue to go through the staffers' entrance and occupy all the seats in the room, leaving dozens of fully paid-up LPIS members outside the building or outside the rooms in which the AGM was being held. While paid-up LPIS members were left outside, such denizens of the Irish community as Stephen Pound MP, Chuka Umunna MP, Stella Creasy MP, Siobhan McDonagh MP and dozens of suited and booted lanyard-wearing SPADs sat comfortably inside.

At one point, Stephen Pound MP even came out and told people, inaccurately, that the AGM had been cancelled! Dozens of LPIS members, not believing that an MP of all people would peddle lies, headed home at this point. Even though RSVPs were in excess of 100, the room booked (capacity 70) was not enough. A second room was procured, but even so, dozens of members were left outside in the corridor and denied the opportunity to register for the AGM.

When I arrived, I was informed that I was not allowed in. Even though I had been nominated from the floor as a candidate for the LPIS committee, I was not allowed in to address the meeting and speak to my nomination about why I was standing and what I wanted to do if elected. At one point, the organisers called the police, who ran up to the room, asking if there had been a "disturbance". There hadn't been but, when the police were informed that candidates for election had been denied entry, even they sought to remedy the situation and gain admission for legitimately nominated candidates. It comes to something when the Met are amongst those showing the more democratic instincts!

A number of left candidates were still denied entry. This was despite the fact that other candidates arrived later than me and were allowed in, and despite comrades inside the room offering to leave to make room for me. Indeed, candidates seated in the second room were brought in to the first room to address the AGM, so there was really no problem with capacity in that regard. I am told that when it was pointed out I was still outside, heckles included "why did he not arrive on time?" despite me arriving nearly an hour early. Forgive me for having a job outside politics and not working at Portcullis House!

Thanks to all those who came tonight, especially those denied a vote and prevented from entering. I hope all of these people who turned up, only to leave immediately after the committee vote, genuinely care for the position of Irish people in Britain and in the Labour Party.[6]

Liam's speech

Here is an excerpt from the speech Liam McNulty was not allowed to give:

"I am standing for the position of Community Liaison on the following principles.
When James Connolly founded the Irish Socialist Federation in New York in 1908, he declared that: 'To the capitalist organisation of Irish-American we will oppose a socialist organisation of Irish-America.'
"That was because the Home Rule Party drew much of its financial support from what John Redmond revealing called 'the better class of Irish men' - the very same who exploited Irish workers and who broke strikes.
"Connolly was not interested in a cross-class alliance, reconciling labour and capital, on the basis of a shared Irishness.
"The Labour Party Irish Society must, of course, be a crucial link between the Irish diaspora and the Labour Party. But our focus should be on integrating Irish workers living here in to the labour movement, and forging links between workers' organisations in both countries: standing side by side with those opposing austerity, not imposing it; standing with those fighting for reproductive rights, not those denying them...If elected, I would push for active support for movements like Repeal the 8th as we approach the referendum next year.
"I would continue LPIS's work in opposing a hard Brexit, which could leave Irish people in Britain in limbo, and copper-fasten partition on the island of Ireland.
"Finally, LPIS has a big role to play in this decade of centenaries. We've had the Dublin Lock-Out and the Easter Rising but next year is 150 years since Connolly was born, and the centenary of the Irish general strike against conscription and the December 1918 General Election, to name but a few.
"LPIS should be a place for political education, and collective discovery of our historical past, and the history and traditions of Irish people in the labour movement."[7]

Call for NEC inquiry

On 26 October 2017, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s office was reported to have intervened in the stitch-up. A senior source from McDonnell’s office told the SKWAWKBOX that this message has been sent to the Left members of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC):

"I received this from Austin Harney of LPIS. It looks like the AGM last night was hijacked. There will be a letter of complaint coming in. We need NEC members now calling upon McNicol to launch inquiry. Sooner rather than later."

Call for a re-run

And Patrick Hunter, Vice Chair of Hendon CLP, wrote to the Irish Post saying the AGM should be declared null and void:

I am writing to you as i am appalled by the obviously corrupt events which took place last night at the Labour Party Irish Society AGM.
I am a fully paid up member of the LPIS, Labour Party and RSVP’d to the invitation to attend the AGM.
I joined the queue at approximately 5.45pm [the meeting was due to start at 6.30pm].
After standing in the queue for about half an hour, Steven Pound MP came out of the building and said the event had been cancelled – a large number of comrades left the queue at this point.
Luckily, I checked my messages and a comrade that was inside had sent me a text that there was an overflow room being made available – I challenged Mr Pound with this and he look quite startled – and went back inside – he later came out and said that the AGM had not been cancelled. He then proceeded to usher in people who had joined the queue after us into the meeting. He did this a number of times and I did attempt to ask what was going on and why were people behind me in the queue being ushered in, but he just ignored me .
Eventually we managed to get into the building and cleared security – we went upstairs to be told that the overflow room was now full and that we would not be let in – effectively, we had been locked out of the meeting with at least 20 other comrades.
What makes this even worse is that comrades inside the meeting were not having their credentials checked in any way to establish if they were Labour Party members, Labour Party Irish Society members or had RSVP’d. No register was taken of participants in the meeting.
  • So who exactly was in the meeting?
  • Were they LPIS members?
  • Had they RSVP’d?
  • Were they even members of Labour?
It appears that no one knows.
So how can this travesty be allowed to stand as an AGM?
In my view it can't!
The LPIS AGM should be declared null and void.
A new AGM should be arranged where democratic process is followed.
In solidarity,
Patrick Hunter
Vice Chair Hendon CLP[8]

Email exchange

SKWAWKBOX can exclusively reveal an email exchange between LPIS figures that demonstrates that the existing LPIS ‘exec’ was planning to set up the meeting to exclude left-wingers and allow the right to maintain its control. The emails were part of a chain of messages on various matters, most innocuous on the society’s finances and the types of reports to be presented at the meeting.

In one message, Thomas McGarry – said to be a key figure in right-wing faction Saving Labour – sent a reply, copied to officers of the society, with a suggested plan for controlling those able to get into the room for the key votes and the balance of likely voters.

This email is a ‘smoking gun’ showing that plans were being made on Monday, even before the SKWAWKBOX raised the importance of the AGM, to control the composition – and therefore the outcome – of the meeting.

This information – surely more than enough to invalidate the AGM and its results – has been passed to John McDonnell’s office. It should also be enough to merit an investigation into those involved, with a view to the most serious disciplinary action.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted McGarry and McGrath, as well as LPIS chair and treasurer Rita Conneely and Liz McShane, to ask for comment. None responded up to the time of publication.[9]

Spectator's view

On Wednesday night, elections took place for the Labour Party Irish Society executive. Ahead of the event, Corbynistas plotted to try and elect some true believers to the executive in order to return it to ‘its radical roots’, with SKWAWKBOX – the Corbynista website – running an article urging like-minded activists to help transform the society into ‘a genuine grassroots left movement which actively campaigns and builds links with the wider community’. They pointed out that ‘you don’t need to be of Irish heritage – just to have an interest in Irish affairs’.

And why the sudden interest in ‘Irish affairs’?

‘Affiliated socialist societies are a vital component of Labour democracy and can play a decisive role in constituency Labour parties (CLPs) – including at the selection of council and parliamentary candidates.’

With concerns among the moderates that this was part of a Momentum plot to increase control and eventually bring in trigger ballots, there was a concentrated effort among moderates and moderate MPs to turn up in force to defend the society from infiltration by the hard left.

However, while the Corbynistas may have been happy to organise online, they took a less kind view to Parliamentarians daring to have the audacity to attend an event in Parliament. When it became clear that the moderates had the numbers, one speaker grew particularly angry. She claimed the grassroots would be outraged that the moderates had packed the room full of Parliamentarians – before turning to the likes of Ian Austin, Alison McGovern and Pat McFadden and warning them they would soon be out on their ear!

Only not just yet. As expected, the moderate votes were plentiful and the plot failed to land. To add insult to injury, the turnout was so high that the 'Grimond Room' in Portcullis House packed up early on, meaning the majority of Corbynistas had to watch from the neighbouring Thatcher room…[10]

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External links

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