Michael McCorry was re-elected to the position of President of the Workers’ Party at our 2023 Ard Fheis last weekend. Have a read of his presidential address here:
First of all, I would like to thank all of those involved in organising today’s Ard Fheis. The Ard Fheis is an important part of our party’s democratic functioning. It facilitates the coming together of the membership across both jurisdictions and is vital to the health and growth of our party. As Party President it’s only proper that I acknowledge the great work done by the organisers, by the CEC, and, indeed, the contribution of all party members over the past two years.
If the overarching goal of the Party for the coming years is to renew and rebuild, it is fair to say that the most important achievement of the last two has been consolidation. And in this we have been successful. In spite of the attempts to sabotage and destroy our party, we have maintained a healthy level of activity, hosted important events both north and south, and continue to lead the way in terms of both policy and political vision. The publication and launch of a detailed and costed Nuclear Power policy stands out in this regard.
As evidenced by today’s Ard Fheis we have a good mix of experience and youth. The loyalty to the party of these long serving comrades must be matched by single mindedness and commitment by our younger members . In this regard they have no shortage of good examples of the virtues of loyalty, commitment and determination that will offer a solid basis for growth. Our long serving members and supporters will continue to play a key role as we move forward to renew and rebuild the Workers’ Party.
Of course, we must acknowledge that we are far from where we want and need to be. We are not afraid to face reality head on and we are no strangers to hard work and struggle. As the motions we debated here today highlighted we have a number of urgent tasks:
We must consolidate our existing membership base and ensure that the leadership potential potential of that base is developed to its full potential at both a local and national level;
We must expand our membership base not only in those constituencies where we already exist but into the adjoining areas and especially into areas where there is still a positive memory of the Workers’ Party from previous decades;
And vital to all of this we must expand and consolidate our financial base. Finance, or the lack thereof, is a constant threat to the existence of a revolutionary party. But, if we are serious about our political project then we must work harder, with more energy, more consistency and, particularly, more innovation in our efforts to secure our financial base.
Comrades, sixty one years ago, in his first presidential address to the 1962 Ard Fheis, Tomás Mac Giolla warned of the threat posed to Irish neutrality arising from the negotiations to join the then EEC. Ten years later, in our campaign against joining the EEC, Tomás and our party reiterated those warnings. But we have seen, with every successive European referendum, that our neutrality was being steadily and covertly eroded. The most overt and blatant infringement has of course been the 20-year process by the Irish government of allowing the US army to turn Shannon Airport into a US aircraft carrier. And, over the last year, we have seen a concerted political attack on Irish neutrality, first with all three coalition leaders attacking the triple lock mechanism and then Minister Martin’s farcical Forum on International Security.
Undoubtedly the war mongers and international arms dealers and their paid political spokespersons will proclaim that recent events in Ukraine and the Middle East prove the fallacy of neutrality. We know the opposite to be true. Strengthening military alliances is merely adding fuel to the fire. Ireland, despite our small size, must stand as an independent and neutral voice for peace, for advocating meaningful negotiations, and for the peaceful and just resolution of international conflicts. AS a party we will never retreat from our support for the Palestinian people, the Cuban people, the people of Venezuela and Nicaragua and all other peoplesstruggling against imperialism.
The working class needs a party, comrades. But the working class won’t be taken in by mere words and slogans. They want to see a party that stands shoulder to shoulder with them in struggle. They want a party that works hard for them and makes sacrifices for the common weal. Yes, comrades, all our work is ahead of us. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Before I conclude, comrades, I will quote a few lines from a song we all know well:
‘Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here.’
We have every reason to be positive, comrades. We’ve got great people, great policies and great politics. Now is not the time to shirk from the tasks ahead. We need to focus and work hard for each other.
We know what we have to do comrades. Let’s get on with it.