A history of the Northern Ireland Labour Party

Democratic socialism and sectarianism

Author: Aaron Edwards

This is a definitive history of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP), a unique political force that drew its support from Protestants and Catholics and became electorally viable despite deep-seated ethnic, religious and national divisions. Formed in 1924 and disbanded in 1987, it succeeded in returning several of its members to the locally based Northern Ireland parliament in 1925–29 and 1958–72, and polled some 100,000 votes in the 1964 and 1970 British general elections. Despite its political successes, the NILP's significance has been downplayed by historians, partly because of the lack of empirical evidence and partly to reinforce the simplistic view of Northern Ireland as the site of the most protracted sectarian conflict in modern Europe. The book brings together archival sources and the oral testimonies of the NILP's former members to explain the enigma of an extraordinary political party operating in extraordinary circumstances. It situates the NILP's successes and failures in a broad historical framework, providing the reader with a balanced account of twentieth-century Northern Irish political history.

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