Photography courtesy of Justin Kernoghan.
Photography courtesy of Justin Kernoghan.

In my new role as Shadow Secretary of State, I have been working with Keir Starmer to renew Labour’s commitment to Northern Ireland, and was delighted to visit Northern Ireland last month.

During my trip, I was able to meet with fantastic community groups who have worked cross-community to help bring peace to Northern Ireland. In particular, I was struck by the work of women’s groups who, over generations, have helped to make change happen – but often this work has not been recognised and neither has the gendered impact of the Troubles and ongoing societal violence.

As we move out of the coronavirus crisis, rejuvenating Northern Ireland’s economy will warrant particular attention if the full promise of peace is to be realised. Northern Ireland shouldn’t be overlooked in Westminster – something Labour recognised in office but which the Conservatives have failed to grasp time and again.

Sadly, John Hume, an architect of the peace process, passed away this week. For John, delivering social justice had to be the prize of peace; a shared island that waged war on want and poverty and that understood that prosperity was integral to the peace process.

With the dark clouds of growing unemployment, following a decade of austerity, it has never been more important that Westminster focuses on the need to protect jobs and a create a fairer future in Northern Ireland in order to secure Hume’s vision.

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