Labour yesterday disclosed that its front bench had held exploratory talks with Sinn Fein and representatives of former loyalist paramilitary groups, in a move mirroring the process involving the Government.
Paul Murphy, a Labour Northern Ireland spokesman, spent 90 minutes in discussions with Sinn Fein members.
The meeting, shortly before Christmas, was the first official meeting between Sinn Fein and a member of Labour's front bench, although backbench Labour MPs with republican sympathies have kept in contact with Sinn Fein over the years.
The aim was to replicate the Government's own talks with Sinn Fein currently being conducted by officials. A …