• Conor’s article on 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising

    In this week that marks the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, I was reminded of the old cliché about Anglo-Irish relations; that what the English can never remember, the Irish can never forget.

    The Easters of my childhood in a staunchly Catholic and nationalist community were duly informed by the unchallengeable facts that, as Eamonn McCann wrote, “Jesus Christ died for the human race and Padraig Pearse for the Irish section of it”.

    On a sunny Dublin morning, as I took my seat alongside other guests for the State Commemoration of the Easter Rising, I remembered those simplicities of my own youthful mind and older ones around me then. During dark days of violence and war, orthodoxies aren’t questioned, history seems an imperative and enemies are clearly defined.  Conflict might be hard on the heart, but in some ways, in the heat of battle at least, it can be easy on the head.

    On Sunday, as I watched the UK Ambassador to Ireland Dominic Chilcott take his seat, I thought to myself that making peace and reconciliation is the complicated thing. I thought the same when I watched the Irish Ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day last year. Leading by example and showing you mean what you say can be hard on the body, mind and soul. The tortuous and circuitous negotiations over the last 20 years in Northern Ireland are testament to that. In those lie the transformation of British-Irish relations, a nexus forged through trying to resolve the unresolvable and a desire to move beyond a seemingly impassable barrier. That tests and strengthens a relationship and gives it even greater depth.

    In 1916, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic vowed to cherish all children of the nation equally. In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement enshrined the right of everyone in Northern Ireland to be Irish or British, or both. A lot happened before, in between, and is continuing thereafter. There are still competing visions for Ireland’s future, North and South, that sit alongside uncomfortable and ongoing disputes about its past.

    But those two simple statements validating and recognising the identity and citizenship of everyone on the island of Ireland point to a better future, wherever it might lead. They should be the self-evident truths upon which we continue to build and work together as countries and peoples, equals and friends.

    I think the last week, indeed the last number of years, have made that old cliché about Anglo-Irish relations redundant. Far better the words of The Queen who said when she visited Ireland in 2012 that “with the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.” That’s not about anyone forgetting or remembering too much or too little, it’s about all of us ensuring that the next chapter of British-Irish relations start with our commitment never do those same things again.

    This article originally appeared in Politics Home on 30th March 2016.


  • Conor raises ‘unjust local government funding’ for St Helens

    Conor has highlighted that the country’s poorest councils are set to lose £198 more per head than the average English local authority, and hit out at government for the ‘unjust allocation of local government funding.’

    Research by the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA), shows that between 2010/11 and 2017/18 the poorest authorities will see an estimated loss of funding of £685 per head, compared to the English average of £487.

    Conor has criticised the unfair allocation of funding in the Local Government Finance Settlement, which will force poorer local authorities to make further cutbacks to public services, which could hit libraries and children’s services.

    In St Helens, the local council will see its spending power reduced by £92 per household just in 2017/18, compared to the average English reduction of £76.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “This settlement means less money is now available for local authorities to spend on public services in deprived areas, and critical services are being put at risk.

    “As a result the poorest are being hit hardest under this Government, at a time when many are struggling to make ends meet.

    “Councils should be treated fairly, but further unfair cuts have been forced onto local authorities.

    “Councils like St Helens are doing a great job in face of large scale cuts, but further cuts imposed by the Tories will have a major impact on the public services that my constituents rely on.”

  • Conor says £3.8m of EU investment show St Helens North is Stronger In

    Analysis published by the Stronger In campaign today shows projects across St Helens North benefit from £3.8m of EU investment each year.

    A vote to leave the European Union would mean that St Helens North would lose access to the funds that support its communities.

    These statistics highlight the significant benefits of Britain’s membership of the EU in almost every area of the country.

    During the 2007-2013 European Structural Funds programme, the North West received £990 million and will receive £910 million under the 2014-2020 programme which has been allocated to Local Enterprise Partnerships who will help decide how the money is spent locally.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “This analysis by the Stronger In campaign shows just how important remaining in the EU is for people in St Helens North and across the North West.

    “St Helens North benefits through receiving EU funding, which supports regional development, provides investment in businesses, creates job opportunities, improves prospects for young people through apprenticeships and higher education, and supports agriculture.

    “Northern Trust and Morley Estates have received over £1.2 million and £2.5 million respectively for important projects run in the constituency.

    “For people in St Helens North and across the UK, being in Europe supports jobs and lower prices here at home, makes it easier to keep our streets safe and gives our country a stronger leadership role on the global stage.

    “Going out on our own is a risk we simply can’t afford to take. The European Union isn’t perfect. No partnership is. But the benefits outweigh the costs and this deal makes Britain even stronger in Europe than we would be out of it.”

  • Conor supports victims of contaminated blood scandal

    Conor McGinn MP announced his support for the campaign to help those affected by the contaminated blood scandal after meeting with Sue Molyneaux, a constituent who is a widow of one of the victims to hear first-hand the impact on her and her family of her husband’s death.

    From the 1970s through to the early-1990s, thousands of people underwent treatment with NHS-supplied blood products. Many of these products are now known to have been contaminated with HIV and/or Hepatitis C. Thousands were affected and many have sadly passed away, and their families and survivors have campaigned for years for justice and to receive compensation.

    Despite previous commitments to give the survivors and families a resolution to the scandal the Government has again delayed matters by setting up a further consultation on the compensation package, which could see some of those who were affected lose thousands of pounds.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “It’s impossible to underestimate the scale of this scandal and the pain it has caused to many families including my constituent Mrs Molyneux.

    “Many have gone through the heartache of losing a loved one and then have had to fight for many years to make the Government take action to address concerns over the administration of the compensation scheme.

    “Alongside my colleague Diane Johnson, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood, I am supporting the victims of this scandal and will work to ensure they receive just compensation.”

  • Conor: a failing Budget from a failing Chancellor

    Conor responding to the Budget delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today said:

    “The Chancellor talks a good game but in reality, this was a budget of failure.  

    “The OBR has revised down its growth predictions and the Chancellor has failed to meet his own fiscal targets. The economy is smaller than predicted and there is now a £18 billion black hole.

    “Whilst I welcome the announcement of HS3 and further infrastructure investment in the North, these have to be delivered and the Chancellors record previously has been one of failure. That over 97% of staff employed to deliver the so-called ‘northern powerhouse’ are based in London is an absolute shambles.

    “It seems the Chancellor is primarily concerned with posturing for Tory leadership, and is making working families pay for his own economic failings rather than helping them.   

    “Mates’ rates on taxes for multinationals -while local authorities suffer 79% cuts, child poverty set to rise every year, 2.1 million working families £1,600 a year worse after cuts to Universal Credit and 200,000 disabled people set to lose £3000 a year; the Chancellor is making working people and the most vulnerable pay for his own economic failings.

    “This was more of the same from an out of touch Chancellor and will do little to help people in St Helens North and across the North West.”




  • Conor says focus should be on effects of poverty not blaming families

    Conor McGinn MP has criticised the Government for increasing levels of poverty and its impact on family stability.

    After a Tory MP asked the Work and Pensions Secretary how family stability affected poverty levels, McGinn turned the question around to ask the Government to explain how increasing levels of poverty under his government are affecting family stability.

    Over the last parliament, average real wages fell by over a thousand pound a year and cuts to Universal Credit that begin in April will see 2.1 million working families £1,600 a year worse off by 2020.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “In my constituency child poverty levels are almost 5% above the national average and recent statistics show that the number of children living in poverty is not decreasing.

    “The government’s failure to make work pay and its cuts to in-work support risk increasing the number of working families in poverty even further.

    “Cuts to Universal Credit that will begin in April will make it almost impossible for families to work their way out of poverty.

    “It is high-time the Tories recognised that we should be working to address the root causes and ensure working families get the support they need, not putting families under increasing pressure.”

  • Conor celebrates National Apprenticeship Week and calls for more high-quality apprenticeships


    To mark National Apprenticeship Week Conor McGinn MP paid a visit to Kalzip in his constituency.

    At the site Conor met apprentices employed by the company through a St Helens Chamber-led scheme. He spoke to Debbie Ashurst, Planning and Materials Control Manager, about why the company felt it was important to take on apprentices and took the opportunity to meet the apprentices and listen to their experiences and how they enjoyed the opportunity to learn new skills in the workplace.

    National Apprenticeship Week is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service to celebrate apprenticeships and traineeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

    Kalzip, an international company based in Haydock produces roofing and building materials for use  all over the world, currently has taken on 7 apprentices via the St Helens Chamber of Commerce.

    Speaking after the visit Conor said:

    “Delivered well, apprenticeships are an important route into employment.  They give an opportunity to learn and develop skills for the workplace whilst earning a living.

    “Companies like Kalzip have recognised that high-quality apprenticeships are good for employers and good for those completing them. And with help from St Helens Chamber, they’ve identified some really fantastic young people and given them a great opportunity.

    “But for too long the UK has not invested enough in apprenticeships. The current Government have failed to address this; they have not fixed the underlying structural economic weaknesses which hold our country back.

    “The UK faces a skills emergency, skills shortages make up over a third of vacancies in some industries. This is bad for businesses and for working people too. Boosting apprenticeships must be part of the solution.

    “Employers like Kalzip and organisations like St Helens Chamber are helping to address this. I am glad to be supporting them and will continue to press for high-quality apprenticeships, a solution to the skills shortage and help to get young people into work.”


  • Conor visits St Helens Carers Centre

    Apprentices 3

    Conor visited St Helens Carers Centre to meet the Chair Jane Dearden and Chief Executive Alan Ashton and hear about the work of St Helens carers.

    The Centre aims to be a one-stop-shop for Carers, where they can get support, information, advice and access services. Conor spoke with Jane and Alan about the challenges faced by carers, the support they need and the help the carers centre provides.

    Established in 2001 the carers centre supports over 10,500 adult carers and over 500 young carers, which represents a little under 50% of all carers in the borough, making St Helens Carers Centre one of the most successful in the country.

    However, this success brings its own challenges and St Helens carers are working hard with the council to find ways, with ever tightening budgets, to meet the needs of local carers.

    Speaking after the visit, Conor said:

    “Carers across St Helens make a vital contribution to the people they care for, to our local communities and to our economy, and they in turn receive excellent support from the St Helens Carers Centre.

    They do a difficult job in very difficult circumstances, indeed the system would completely collapse without them. Carers should receive proper support and funding from Government. 

    “However, under the Tories funding for adult social care was been slashed by over £4.5billion from 2010-2015. As a result our care system is under a huge strain and on the brink of collapse.

    “I urge the Government to act now to ensure that funding is in place so that carers receive the support they deserve.”


  • Conor joined pupils at a special service to celebrate education pioneer Sarah Cowley

    cowley 300 event

    Pupils past and present rubbed shoulders at a special service to celebrate education pioneer Sarah Cowley.

    A number of events are being held to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Sarah Cowley whose dream was to enable every child access to education and not just the wealthy.

    Around 200 people and several dignitaries attended the service at the old school building on Hard Lane including the Mayor and Mayoress of St Helens Steven and Lynn Glover, Reverend David Eastwood, Conor McGinn MP and Cllr Andy Bowden who represented The Cowley Trustees.

     Some former pupils took part in readings and performed with The Cowley Singers and the ‘Veterans’ band. Members of the Cowley Institute for Performing Arts also sang with the Parish Church School Choir. Former head of music Ray Dobbs accompanied the musical performances on the piano.

    Commenting Conor said:

    “The service was a fitting tribute to the memory of Sarah Cowley and to the legacy she left behind. Her decision to leave money to support the education of local children has made a huge difference to many people’s lives and many still benefit from the trust fund she established.

     “All those involved in organising the 300 year commemorations have done Sarah Cowley’s memory justice. The event celebrated the achievements of pupils past and present. Sarah recognised 300 years ago the barriers that exist to getting a good education. She did something about it and her legacy continues to this day.”


  • Conor calls for musicians and film-makers to enter Rock the House and Film the House

    Conor McGinn MP is supporting musicians and film-makers from St Helens North by calling for local artists to enter Parliament’s two largest creative competitions, Rock the House and Film the House.

    The competition, now in its fifth year, offers the opportunity to put local musicians and film-makers in direct contact with the movers and shakers of the two industries and is judged by the leading lights of industry, with prizes ranging from festival slots, studio time and top-notch equipment, the Rock the House and Film the House competitions are a pioneering opportunity to showcase what the constituency has to offer, raising awareness about the importance of Intellectual property (IP) to our creative industries and country.

    Dates for the 2016 competitions are:

    • 1st May, closing date for entries to MPs
    • 31st May, closing date for MPs to announce their constituency nominations
    • 20th June, final battle of the bands
    • 4th July, awards ceremony

    More information on how to apply for each competition can be found at:

    Conor McGinn MP said:

    “I welcome the return of Parliament’s most-hotly contested competitions, and would urge all local musicians and film-makers to enter Rock the House and Film the House. This is an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate our local talent and, as all nominations are judged by industry experts, there is no finer chance for our musicians and film-makers to gain exposure.”

    Rock legend and actor, Alice Cooper said:

    “Rock the House is a great project which celebrates the fantastic diversity of the British music scene and gives musicians a vehicle through which to hold their legislators accountable about protecting the music industry’s intellectual property.”

    For more information on how to enter Rock the House go to www.rockthehouseuk.com;

    and for Film the House www.filmthehouse.com.

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