Socialist Party (Ireland)

Socialist Party (Ireland)

party_name = Socialist Party
party_articletitle = Socialist Party (Ireland)
leader = Joe Higgins
foundation = autumn 1996
ideology = Socialism, Marxism, Trotskyism
international = Committee for a Workers' International
european = "none"
europarl = "none"
colours = Red, White
headquarters = 141 Thomas Street,
Dublin 8
website = []

The Socialist Party (in Irish Páirtí Sóisialach) is a political party active in Ireland. Until 2007 it was Ireland's only Marxist organisation with electoral representation in Dáil Éireann. It is a member of the Trotskyist Committee for a Workers' International (CWI).

Formerly known as Militant Labour, then Militant Tendency, it adopted the name The Socialist Party in 1996. Like many other organisations affiliated to the CWI, from their foundation until the 1980s members of the organisation practiced entryism in the Irish Labour Party. In the early 1990s many of its members were expelled from Labour, and it was at this point they took an 'open turn' and established an independent organisation with the name Militant Labour. The Socialist Party now put forward the theoretical analysis that the Labour Party has changed in nature and is no longer a party of the working class.

The party is organised in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. They produce a monthly newspaper called "The Socialist" (formerly "Socialist Voice", "The Voice", and "Militant") and an irregular theoretical journal called "Socialist View" (formerly "Socialism 2000"). There is also an irregular e-zine called "International Socialist Voice" and an occasional free newspaper distributed to tens of thousands of homes in North and West Dublin called "Fingal Socialist".

Electoral history

Through campaigning work it has built some electoral support, with Joe Higgins being elected to Dáil Eireann - the Irish parliament - and four other members elected to local councils in working class areas of Dublin and Cork. It has found it harder to gain an electoral foothold in Northern Ireland, but it has an important presence in the trade union movement there and an ever-growing youth wing.

In the 1997 election, the party returned one TD to Dáil Éireann - Joe Higgins (Dublin West), who became prominent during the Anti-Water Charges Campaign. In the 2002 election, Joe Higgins retained his seat, and in the Dublin North constituency Councillor Clare Daly narrowly missed out on a second seat.

In the 2004 local elections the party gained two council seats, one in Dublin (Mick Murphy in the Tallaght ward) and another in Cork (Mick Barry in the Cork North Central ward). They also retained their two previous seats in Dublin's Fingal areas of Mulhuddart (Ruth Coppinger) and Swords (Clare Daly). In the European Elections held on the same day, Joe Higgins received 23,200 (5.5%) votes in the Dublin constituency, double his 1999 result, but missed out on a seat. In the 2007 Dail election, Joe Higgins failed to retain his seat in the Dublin West constituency.

Trade union, campaigning and other extra-parliamentary activities

The Socialist Party is active in the trade union movement, arguing for more militant action in defence of workers’ interests. Members of the Socialist Party have been elected to several high ranking positions in the unions, most notably the CPSU and NIPSA where they hold the presidencies. It also holds influence in the Northern Irish branch of the FBU where its members played a key role in encouraging the FBU's split from the British Labour Party in 2004.

The Socialist Party is also involved in many community campaigns, including leading a victorious struggle against a domestic water charge, commonly known as the 'water tax' in Dublin in the mid-1990s. More recently, it has played a significant role in campaigns against a refuse collection charge, similarly commonly known as the 'bin tax', in the Republic of Ireland and a water charge in Northern Ireland. It has been deeply involved in the movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of Palestine and continues to be active in campaigns against fascism, racism, low pay exploitation and religious sectarianism. They are also environmental advocates and supporters of rights for workers, women, ethnic minorities and homosexuals.

In Autumn 2003 Joe Higgins and Cllr. Clare Daly were sent to Mountjoy Prison for a month for refusing to abide by a High Court injunction relating to the blockading of bin lorries. This was part of the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign. Other members (along with people from other parties, and non-aligned activists) also went to prison for varying amounts of time for similar reasons.

In 2005 the Socialist Party and in particular Joe Higgins TD and Cllr. Mick Murphy were instrumental in exposing the exploitation of immigrant Turkish construction workers working for the Turkish multinational GAMA on Irish state projects. Workers were being paid as little as €2.20 an hour (minimum wage in Ireland is €8.65) while being forced to work up to 80 hours per week. The Socialist Party's intervention led to the first major strike by immigrant workers in Ireland. The Party then discovered millions of euro hidden in Dutch bank accounts in the workers names. The strike ended in complete victory with the workers winning tens of thousand of euros each in unpaid wages and overtime. It proved to be a major coup for the party with huge press coverage over months, while embarrassing the official trade union movement, SIPTU, of which the GAMA workers were members.

Youth Wing

Socialist Youth is the youth wing of the Socialist Party, with branches in most of the cities and towns where the Socialist Party is organised. One of its members was also imprisoned as a result of the events around the anti-bin charge campaign.

Some members of Socialist Youth have been supportive of the Shell to Sea campaign. In mid 2006, Socialist Youth launched a young workers' rights campaign called Organise! which has organised assistance for young workers who face exploitative treatment by their employers. In the North, the campaign goes under the name Fightback! and has placed pickets and protests on low-paying employers.

Key policies

Both Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party itself have as key policies the taking of economic power out of the hands of the bankers, speculators and wealthy industrialists. Instead they want to transfer that power to working class people. The Socialist Party stands for public ownership and democratic socialist planning of the key areas of economic activity.

In relation to Northern Ireland, the Socialist Party advocate a radical alternative to the status-quo. They wish to transcend borders and bring working class unity on this island. They argue a capitalist united Ireland would mean continuence of capitalist exploitation of the working class and that capitalism is incapable of overcoming sectarianism. The socialist Ireland that they propose would be a voluntary part of an international socialist federation.

Not to be confused with the Irish Republican Socialist Party or the Socialist Workers Party.

List of Elected members

* Clare Daly - Councillor - Swords.
* Ruth Coppinger - Councillor - Mulhuddart.
* Mick Murphy - Councillor - Tallaght.
* Mick Barry - Councillor - Cork North Central.

External links


* [ The History and Politics of the Socialist Party] - Interview with Socialist Party Councillor Mick Murphy on Dublin City FM(Dublin)


* [ Socialist Party] - Website
* [ Socialist Party Belfast] - Website
* [ Socialist Party Limerick] - Website
* [ Socialist Youth] - Youth section website
* [ "The Socialist"] - Newspaper of the Socialist Party
* [ "Socialist View"] - Political journal of the Socialist Party
* [ "International Socialist Voice"] - Socialist Party E-zine
* [ The Socialist Party's political manifesto]
* [ Committee for a Workers' International] - To which the Socialist Party is affiliated

ee also


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