Labour Reveals It Held Talks with Sinn Fein
Brown, Colin, The Independent (London, England)
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 meeting with representatives of former loyalist paramilitary groups was also due to be held over the Christmas/New Year period.
Sinn Fein's delegation included Francie Molloy, from the national executive, Gerry MacLochlainn, its representative in Britain, and Danny Power, a Sinn Fein member.
They discussed policing, fair employment, job creation and economic regeneration in talks which both sides described as "useful and informative".
Mr Murphy said: "We regarded this as exploratory talks with people from the same groups as the Government had spoken to some weeks earlier. We discussed a range of issues and mine was mainly a listening role. …