Working with Labour

Everyone expects that Labour will take over from the Tories next month. This issue is about how this will affect us here and what we can do about it. The main and most pressing issue is finance for the Executive. Andrew McCormick sets out the rather limited room for manoeuvre on this for all the devolved governments and suggests how best the Executive may negotiate with the Treasury, given all the indications that Labour will not be splashing the cash, despite Keir Starmer’s understanding of the North. Better relations with the EU and Ireland are his priorities. Some revenue, as has been pursued in Scotland, may be the key to unlocking fairer funding from the UK Exchequer.

Feargal Cochrane’s detailed analysis of the short page on Northern Ireland in Labour’s manifesto emphasises their limited commitments. A key issue will be how far they want to go in reversing the Tory legislation on legacy issues. The focus on going back to the Stormont House Agreement suggests that there may be some reluctance to prioritise prosecutions over truth recovery. Given the focus then on setting a cutting off point, retaining some form of conditional amnesty or at least eliminating imprisonment for offenders may be the preferred direction of travel.

In the coming election we all have a role to play in improving our influence on the new government’s focus on improving relationships with the rest of Ireland and with Europe. A more realistic representation of the wide spread of political aspirations here rather than the dominance of the DUP and the absence of Sinn Féin MPs at Westminster may help in this. The poor performance of Sinn Féin in the local and European elections in the Republic removes for the time being the prospect of joint Sinn Féin dominance North and South and thus a border poll any time soon.

As ever, the objective should be more nuanced and cooperative structures in both parts of Ireland, whether united, shared, or in some other less easily designated constitutional arrangement. The best constitutions reflect and provide for all the people(s) that live within their territories.

View Issue 494

Issue contents


Andrew McCormick Northern Ireland public finances Feargal Cochrane What the Labour Manifesto means for Northern Ireland Eoghan Kelly Kick ’em when they’re down Martyn Turner Sinn Féin’s election results Andy Pollak Politics turns ugly as migration becomes an issue in Republic’s election Sarah Creighton Multiple housing crises Stephen Cooper Can’t see the wood for the trees John Barry Solving the Lough Neagh ecological disaster

Arts (Guest editor Rosemary Jenkinson)

Martina Devlin Confessions of a historical novelist Mary O’Donnell Literary sex: the literal and the mythical Billy Cowan The short story – Quintessentially Northern Irish? Rosemary Jenkinson Ukraine: Return to the Red Zone


Moyra Donaldson Tanya Farrelly Trish Bennett Seán Ó Muireagáin


Éilís Ní Duibhne Jan Carson’s Quickly, while they still have horses Linda Anderson Slavenka Draculić’s Invisible woman and other stories Tom Hadden Denis Bradley’s Peace comes dropping slow