The Workers’ Party is aware that a group of former Party members held an inaugural conference over the weekend and have launched a new political organisation. This group has attempted to lay claim, without any validity, to our Party’s name.
There is however only one organisation rightfully called The Workers’ Party and that is our organisation, which retains 14 of the 18 Ard Comhairle members elected at the last Party Ard Fheis, as well as the vast majority of active Party members and branches. Michael Donnelly remains the Party President, as elected by the 2019 Ard Fheis, and Michael McCorry is the Party’s General Secretary.
These former members concocted a risible pretext for their conference in order to give it an air of legitimacy, a move which has been rejected by the Ard Comhairle, which is the supreme governing body of the Party between Ard Fheiseanna, as per the Party Rule Book.
The formation of this new organisation is the regrettable culmination of an eighteen-month long dispute which the Ard Comhairle has at all times sought to resolve amicably. We therefore regret deeply that, at a time when the working class requires unity and organisation more than ever, our former Party comrades have chosen to take this route, but we wish them well with their future political activity.
In late 2014, the Workers’ Party relaunched in Dublin. The organisation in that area has experienced modest but continuous growth in membership and activity over the last six years. Party members in other parts of the country, north and south, have sought to commit the Party to a similar strategy of party-building in their areas in recent years. Modest though it is, it should be contrasted to the wholesale loss of position under the previous leadership and the continuing failure of the ‘Northern Ireland Business Committee’ to engage in any political activity other than issuing bland statements once a fortnight.
The political context to this dispute, therefore, has been the inability of the Workers’ Party to rebuild itself over the last 30 years. Unfortunately, despite the commitment and valiant efforts of the Party membership as well as longstanding Party leaders like Sean Garland, the Party had, until recent years, found it difficult to arrest its political decline and has become increasingly disconnected from those it seeks to represent: the working class.
Although there are many reasons contributing to the inability to recover, the decline was overseen by the small faction that has now left to form their new organisation.
As a result of their long-term political failure, at the last Party Ard Fheis in 2019, this small group of individuals lost their decades-long stranglehold and control on the Party’s leadership bodies as the Party membership chose to elect a leadership that prioritised active involvement in campaigns and issues that concerned working class people in order to make the Party relevant again. This new leadership consisted of both newer and longstanding members, from all areas of the country, and, it should be noted, that the majority of Ard Comhairle members from the north, elected at the 2019 Ard Fheis, have stayed with the Workers’ Party and oppose the Business Committee’s actions.
Sadly, instead of pursuing their concerns at this loss of control through democratic means, this small group of individuals then, using their base in the regional body (Northern Ireland Business Committee) sought to disrupt Party activity, especially by sabotaging renewed efforts by members in Belfast to engage in political activity while simultaneously targeting both long-respected and newly arrived members there for suspension.
This culminated in the refusal of the Business Committee to accept any direction from the Ard Comhairle, leading first to their own suspension and then to their refusal to renew their membership in 2019. This placed them outside the Party and, ultimately, to their founding of their own organisation this weekend.
Sadly, a small number of individuals in the south have also chosen to ally themselves with the Northern Ireland Business Committee and participated in the founding conference of their new organisation.
This includes Councillor Ted Tynan, who is no longer a Workers’ Party member. Ted Tynan, despite rumours to the contrary, was not expelled by the Workers’ Party. Rather he refused to register as a Party member despite repeated requests to do so over the course of months, issued joint statements with the Business Committee, and also declined to meet an Ard Comhairle delegation to discuss these issues, again despite repeated requests for him to do so.
While we acknowledge Ted Tynan’s longstanding membership and contribution to the organisation over the course of many decades, it is also the case that all members must be treated equally under the Party Rule Book and Constitution, and that no individual or group of individuals can expect to be treated differently due to length of prior membership or position.
Unfortunately, we note that some of our former members have sought to accuse the Workers’ Party of adopting nationalist politics as a political cover for their departure from our organisation. While we do not intend to get involved in a pointless war of words on this matter, we must reject this accusation firmly.
The Workers’ Party remains committed to its longstanding anti-sectarian principles and to fighting for working class unity. We believe that the best way to progress the current debate about the constitutional question in Ireland is to bring all sides together in a reconstituted Civic Forum to forge a common path forward for all citizens of this island. Our members in Belfast have been active in recent weeks in seeking to calm tensions at community interfaces in West and North Belfast.
Our organisation remains committed to the unifying and anti-sectarian republican principles of Wolfe Tone and Connolly with the clear aim of providing an alternative to the pro-business establishment common to both jurisdictions and Brussels, as well as to British and US imperialism that suffocates any prospects of true sovereignty for the Irish working class.
While we regret the loss of some Party members, The Workers’ Party retains an active, growing, and politically unified membership, young and old, north and south, who remain committed to the task of rebuilding the organisation as a party of and for the working class.
The Ard Comhairle of the Workers’ Party