Over 150 delegates and observers attended the Workers’ Party Ard Fheis on Friday (18th November) and Saturday (19th November) in the Communications Workers’ Union Hall in Dublin 1, where motions were passed on a broad range of issues including public housing, reproductive rights and Traveller identity.
The delegates, representing party branches in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern and a branch in Britain, discussed over 50 motions ordered around the conference’s slogan of “Organising the Future”. Among the major decisions agreed was to campaign for a major programme of mixed income public housing construction throughout Ireland, proper funding of public transport, the legal recognition of Traveller ethnic identity and for an end to the exploitation of workers through so-called activation schemes..
On Saturday the conference agreed significant organisational and structural motions in order to accommodate an influx of members in recent months and to modernise the party’s functioning.. Party regions in Leinster/Dublin, Northern Ireland and Munster all reported substantial growth in membership and progress with party campaigns. At the Ard Fheis, Workers’ Party President, Michael Donnelly was re-elected to serve a two-year term while a new Central Executive Committee was also elected.
In his address Mr. Donnelly highlighted recent campaigns for mixed income public housing provision in Dublin and against murders by dissident terrorists in Northern Ireland as examples of where the Workers’ Party’s “thoughtful and brave” brand of politics continued to be at the forefront of the struggle for progressive change in Ireland.
The conference was addressed on Friday evening by the Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Dr. Hermes Herrara Hernández who spoke about the strong links between the Cuban Communist Party and the Workers’ Party.
Workers’ Party Dublin City Councillor, Eilis Ryan, said: “The success of this year’s Ard Fheis is a result of the increased confidence within a party membership which is growing from Dublin to Belfast to Cork. She added: “The Workers’ Party is at the forefront of campaigns including those for women’s reproductive rights, the right to housing, sustainable economic development, secular education, against water charges and the fight to end sectarianism. It is clear that throughout the country working class communities are realising the necessity of the Workers’ Party campaign of building a secular, democratic, socialist society in Ireland.”
The Party also reaffirmed its commitment to internationalism and opposition to war, imperialism and neo-liberalism. In particular it condemned the continuing blockade of Cuba and the recent decision of a number of banks to restrict and close accounts associated with groups campaigning in solidarity with Palestine and Cuba.
The Ard Fheis has also launched a major pamphlet on the 1916 Rising entitled “1916 to 2016: Then and Now” which reflects on the role of the men and women of 1916 and the relevance of the Rising for the ongoing struggle to build a democratic, secular, socialist, unitary state on the island of Ireland – a Republic.