Labour coalition

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Labour coalition
Leader Malachi Curran
Founded 1996
Dissolved 1998
Ideology Trade Unionism
Social Democracy
Politics of Northern Ireland
Political parties

Labour was represented in the Northern Ireland peace process by a loose coalition of left wing and labour groups, including Militant Tendency (forerunners of the Irish Socialist Party), the Newtownabbey Labour Party and the British and Irish Communist Organisation.[1] The coalition was formed to stand in the 1996 Northern Ireland Forum elections. It was listed in the enabling legislation simply as "Labour".[2] A Trotskyist group, No Going Back, was also listed in the legislation, but did not put forward candidates and instead supported the Labour group.[3]

The coalition gained only 6,425 votes (0.85% of the total), winning no seats, but as the tenth most successful grouping in the election, it was entitled to two "top-up" seats on the Forum.[3] The seats were taken by the first two named on the Regional List of Candidates, Malachi Curran and Hugh Casey.[4] Both were former Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) councillors.[1]

The coalition split shortly after the election. Mark Langhammer of the Newtownabbey Labour Party, originally the leader of the group, severed his connection with it, and Malachi Curran replaced him as nominating representative for Labour, notice being posted in the Belfast Gazette of 16 August 1996.[5] Curran represented Labour in the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and later expressed the view that the smaller parties played a "very crucial part" in the success of the talks.[6] The contribution of Labour to the talks was acknowledged when Curran was co-recipient, with the leaders of the other parties, of both the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.[7][8]