The difficulties that the leadership of the Workers’ Party have had in persuading the Business Committee, based in Northern Ireland, in adhering to basic democratic principles have been ongoing for some time. As well as refusing to circulate membership lists as required they have, before they were themselves issued with a precautionary suspension, attempted to expel and/or remove members whose loyalty to the Party is not in doubt.
Last Autumn, a Party member who is close to Ard Comhairle member M. McCorry, was suspended. Then in January M. McCorry was suspended from managing the clubs in Belfast. M. McCorry remains a loyal and valued member of the Workers’ Party and the Ard Comhairle/Central Executive Committee.
In early March, within a week of the Business Committee Faction being suspended, P. Hamilton, a Business Committee Faction supporter, suspended another Belfast activist loyal to the Ard Comhairle. Despite this being overturned, in recent weeks he has issued a new suspension to one of these individuals, which was again overturned by the Ard Comhairle, and attempted to ignore the Ard Comhairle’s lifting of the suspension on the other individual.
On four separate occasions, therefore, this faction have attempted to suspend or remove members whose loyalty is to the Party and who did not take their marching orders from G. Grainger or B. McDermott.
The Business Committee Faction were issued with precautionary suspensions for acting as a faction, as illustrated by their repeated refusal to circulate the northern membership to Head Office.
With the Covid crisis the Ard Comhairle proposed to hold hearings of their case via the internet. The Business Committee Faction instead demanded that hearings be held in person when the restrictions were lifted. This was acceded to despite the inevitable delay in bringing the matter to a conclusion.
In the meantime, despite explicit instructions to the contrary the Business Committee Faction increasingly acted publicly as a separate and parallel leadership with G. Grainger and B. McDermott issuing a number of public statements which they are prohibited from doing while they were under suspension. See here for examples:
|Issued by B. McDermott|
|26-Mar||Employers protecting workers|
|29-Mar||Voluntary and Charitable sector re Mental Health|
|02-Apr||Four things re COVID|
|06-Apr||Robyn Swann – sectarian abuse condemned|
|17-Apr||Capitalism never wastes a crisis|
|Issued by G. Grainger|
|22-Apr||Anniversary of the birth of Lenin|
|4-May||Statement on International Workers’ Day|
|11-May||On the 75th Anniversary of the Anti-Fascist Victory in Europe|
|19-May||In solidarity with Palestine|
|26-May||Dangers of Mandatory Tracing|
|16-Jun||On the proposals for coalition government|
G. Grainger was, separate to his suspension, removed as International Secretary by the Management Committee and replaced by G. Mendel-Gleason. This was notified to and agreed by the Ard Comhairle/Central Executive Committee on 9th May without objection.
Despite this G. Grainger continued to pretend that he held the position of International Secretary and has written to sister parties abroad on June 2nd in a rather desperate attempt to maintain his former position:
“ …we would ask you to note that the International Secretary of the Workers Party of Ireland remains cde. Gerry Grainger…”
Again, the Party Rule Book is clear: the Management Committee, itself chosen by the Ard Comhairle, appoints the various Directors, including the Director of International Affairs. And the Management Committee has replaced G. Grainger.
Further, G. Grainger in recent weeks has gone beyond pretending he is still International Secretary. He has twice issued statements regarding Irish national politics, one on mandatory tracking in relation to Covid-19, the other on the formation of the government in the south.
B. McDermott has likewise continued to attempt to set Party policy, this time in the north.
Two weeks ago they published a lengthy, if tediously repetitive, screed on the internal Party situation on the internet.
Then, on June 12th P. Hamilton wrote to the Ard Comhairle/Central Executive Committee informing it that they would not be registering with the Party as required by every branch. Instead they would organise their own registration. This is an explicit rejection of membership of the Workers’ Party.
Taken together, these actions,
- suspending loyal Party members,
- publicly masquerading as national Party officers,
- publicly issuing unauthorised statements purporting to represent the Party,
- and, particularly, refusing to register as members of the Workers’ Party and instead organising their own group
place them definitively outside of the Party.
The Ard Comhairle has accepted that they have left the Party and has instructed the Management Committee to act accordingly.