This time, one of the Sinn Fein offshoots.
Name: Workers’ Party of Ireland
Founded: 1970 as “Official Sinn Fein” changed to “Sinn Fein: The Workers Party” in 1977 and “Workers’ Party” in 1982.
Leader: Mick Finnegan
Representation: 2 Local Councillors
Politically: Far Left
Associated With: Anti-Violence, Anti-Sectarianism, Anti-Class Prejudice, Anti-Capitilism, Anti-“Traditional” Republicanism, Anti-EU, Pro-Unification, Pro-Union, Pro-Working Class, Pro-Socialism
Notable Members: Tomas Mac Giolla TD (de facto founder) Prionsios De Rossa (left party in 1992) Cllr’s Davy Walsh and Ted Tynan
Splits, splits, splits. Formed from a serious divide in Sinn Fein, which culminated in a contentious Ard Dheis in 1970. Angered over the continued military campaign of the IRA and the policy of absentism, a minority left to form their own group, becoming connected with the “Official” IRA while the original became connected to the “Provisional”. The new group rejected the violence that was having little effect in changing northern politics and became “Sinn Fein: The Workers Party” in 1977.
With an emphasis on rejecting sectarianism and a growing shift to Marxism, the Party grew through the seventies and eighties. Growing further and further apart from its Irish Republican roots, the party suffered through a further split in 1974, when more hardline members formed the Irish Republican Socialist Party.
The Party achieved some success on either side of the border in local and general elections (see below). However, a further divide in 1992, when a substantial amount of the organisation split over issues related to the acceptance of free market economics and the continuing violence from the O-IRA, weakened the Party greatly. Since than it has struggled on but with far less success then before.
A mixture. The Party has held plenty of local seats up north but these have all vanished in the last decade. In the Republic, the WP was able to gain up to seven TDs and an MEP in 1989.
However, following the 1992 split, the Party’s fortunes nose-dived with most of their elected officials joining the new Democratic Left or becoming Independents. Their only remaining TD, Tomas Mac Giolla, would lose his seat the following year, but would then be elected Mayor of Dublin. Since then, the Party’s minor representation at local level has been slowly whittled away. Today, they have only two local Councillors, one in Cork and the other in Waterford.
What They’ve Done Lately
With their lack or representation, they are left with protests and the like. Their leadership has called for civil disobedience against the state and for a socialist solution to the current financial climate. A glance at their news page will show a long list of condemnations, slamming indictments and complaints against the main parties.
Apart from that, not much. Nearly everything they say or do is in opposition of one of the main parties.
What They’ll Do In The Future
For some reason, the WPI place a heavy emphasis on reforming healthcare, not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a Sinn Fein off-shoot. In that regard, their plans are all about making the system free and public. Then, education reform, especially getting better access on all levels for the working class and underprivileged. Lastly, housing, and the cutting down on waiting lists for homes.
The Party also has vaguely established plans for a United Ireland and greater autonomy from the European Union.
Chances In The Next Election
Slim. In 2007, the WPI stood for six seats and lost all races. In the Local elections of 2009, they stood 12 and won two. They stood no candidates in the MEP races.
The Party, to be blunt, has been on the slide downwards for nearly two decades at this stage. The best chance they have is in Cork and Waterford, traditional bastions of support, but it just won’t be enough.
The WPI is growing increasing irrelevant to the political life of the south. Just about every other party of the same ideology has surpassed them in terms of representation and support. They’re clinging on, and it might only take the next local election to end them.
And it might not be a bad thing. The Party seems incapable of coming up with ideas and policies that aren’t espoused by a more popular party or that isn’t just a way to snipe at apparent enemies.
For example, in terms of foreign affairs, the Party expresses support for the idea of an independent Palestinian state but then condemns the declaration of independence by Kosovo. Why? Because of where the Untied States, which is treated as some kind of boogeyman by the WPI, stands on the two issues.
Relatedly, the WPI also “salutes the continuing struggle” of North Korea and its government. Frankly, an utterly bizarre and ridiculous thing for this Party to do, considering its high talk of defending democracy and standing up for the little man. The Kims certainly aren’t doing that.
Anyway, their international opinions aren’t really important. Ultimately, nothing they say or do on other fronts seems too insane or unreasonable.
Most Likely To Say: Peace! Working Class! Socialism!
Least Likely To Say: We are this close to disappearing.