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Irish Labour Party Conference ReportĀ 

6 November 2018

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, reports on the gathering last weekend (2nd, 3rd and 4th Nov).

I was delighted to take part in a panel discussion on Brexit with British Labour MP Steven Pound, SDLP MLA Claire Hanna and Lorraine Mulligan from our sister union SIPTU.

I was able to put forward our union's position, none more important than the need for no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland. It was a great debate with many interventions from the floor.

Conference then went on to pass our motion on Brexit unanimously. This sends a very strong signal that both our British and Irish Labour Parties are united in their desire to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement.

Conference debated a raft of very important issues for our members; from tackling the growing housing crisis, to implementing free universal healthcare and securing a new deal for workers which will see a stronger voice for unions, the extension of collective bargaining and a real living wage.

There was also a very good debate around women's issues which mirror what was discussed at our recent Women's Conference at the end of October.

On international issues, Conference backed our union's position of solidarity with the Palestinian people and for a strategy of targeted boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel to get them to stop their illegal occupation of Palestinian land as defined by the United Nations.

In his address to Conference the Chair - former trade union leader Jack O'Connor - talked about the need for Ireland's fragmented Left to unite around a programme of reforms which benefit working people.

Like him, I strongly believe that we should not put ideological purity before the interests of those who so badly need a new economic settlement for the many.

On Saturday night Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin gave a strong and animated speech in which he presented an alternative, fairer, vision for his country.

There was lots in what he said which completely chimes with our union's policies. I really hope that his platform gains traction with voters as there is much within it to benefit our members. 

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