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Irish Left Archive: Patterns of Betrayal – the flight from Socialism Papers and Viewpoints which set out The Struggle for The Workers’ Party. The Workers’ Party, 1992 November 9, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Workers' Party.

Cover PatternsWP


This document is essentially self-explanatory, being a retrospective analysis of the split in the Workers’ Party that led to the formation of Democratic Left. I’ve always thought it was quite admirable of them to incorporate statements by those who took the opposite side, but one might wonder as to the function of the pamphlet since it was unlikely to sway the dissenters back to the WP. That, though, clearly reflects the depth of bitterness and to an extent genuine incomprehension at the manner in which the party split.

Interesting to hear people’s thoughts on it.


1. Jim Monaghan - November 9, 2009

They are not unique in this regard. I read this when it came out first. I took a wry amusement that those who benefitted from the work/(risks taken) of say the “rougher” elements wanted to drop them as soon as they got a whiff of power.
The hatred persisted I believe they would not let De Rossa attend Gouldings funereal, I am also told members of his family were not welcomed either, though I find this hard to believe.
Sure the same thing is happening with the Porvos.
After a few decades I have tos ay that the bitterness of most splits is a poison. Grouops that you would need a magnifying glass to see the difference between will spit at each other. They will even be polite to the class enemny rather than see merit at all in each other.Little groups , big personalities.While the SWP/SP dou are formally polite to each other, it is a formality, alas.
Gregory told me personally that he had a regard for McGiolla.
It is amusing that the Garland defence people have no problem with canvassing even Provos. I suppose they keep the “pagan” O’Hagen under lock and key when they are looking for support seeing as he is prpbably the most bitter of them all.


2. Justin - November 9, 2009

I was at Cahal Goulding’s funeral and saw De Rossa in the crowd.


3. Justin - November 9, 2009

Anyway, more importantly, what about the substance of the document? The ideological and historical underpinnings?


4. Ramzi Nohra - November 9, 2009

According to TLR De Rossa was at the funeral, although he was pressured by some present to leave.

Well done for putting this important document on the web. I’ll try to look at it tonight.

Although how actually do you read it? I’ve clicked on it but can only see the cover. Presumably I am an idiot.


5. Joe - November 9, 2009

I was briefly at Goulding’s funeral too and I saw De Rossa there. For what it’s worth, I also saw another person in the crowd exchanging a handshake with De Rossa.


6. No.11 - November 9, 2009

Ramzi, if you click on the image you’re redirected to the jpeg.

You want to click on the link below.

Click to access poblores.pdf


Ramzi Nohra - November 9, 2009

thanks No 11


7. James Short - November 9, 2009

De Rossa was personally abused in the orations and told to leave by several people. A number of those present, including Tom Moore from Newry wrote to the Irish Times to complain about the politically sectarian nature of the funeral, and the score-settling that went on there. Members of Republican Left were also given the cold shoulder. I’m sure the press coverage of the time will mention it.


8. James Short - November 9, 2009

From Irish Times, 2 January 1999.

Sir, – I went to bury a chief on New Year’s Eve. He was one of my heroes from my teenage years. I joined his crusade as a 19-year-old in 1964 and participated in his resolve to build a party of the Left from a traditionalist movement that was more intent on fighting to “free Ireland” than on freeing the Irish people from exploitation.

Twenty-two years later I had joined the long list of those who, since its inception, had for various reasons left the Republican Movement. Mine was a failure to convince the then leadership that action was required to deal with a serious problem locally that threatened to destroy the political developments being achieved by a growing party of the Left.

As we gathered on that bleak December day to await the funeral service for Cathal Goulding I had a feeling of the greatness of the man. All around the crematorium building were faces from the past, from the 1940s to the 1990s, including very many who were no longer “involved”, and they mingled with others from different strands of life in Ireland. All of us came to pay our respects to a man we respected and admired for his contribution to political life in Ireland.

As soon as the funeral service began, it became apparent that those conducting it had no sense of the significance of the gathering that day.

The only message the Workers’ Party had for the largest audience it had the opportunity to address since the funeral of Malachy McGurran just over 20 years ago was a paraphrase of a 1920s RC Church edict: “Outside the WP no one can be a socialist or a republican.”

Yes, the WP was entitled to bury Cathal Goulding. It was entitled to remind us all of where he stood and to reiterate his defining message that those who engaged in a blind, nationalist slaughter of fellow Irish people had besmirched the name of republicanism. But to use the occasion almost exclusively as a platform to attack the most recent group of people who left on the basis of a political decision was to sully the memory of Cathal Goulding.

The intolerance and narrowmindedness of the three-and-a-quarter orations I heard before I took myself off were a total negation of the tolerance and inclusiveness propagated by Cathal Goulding during some of the worst times in our recent history.

Had the funeral notice made it clear that only current, card-carrying WP members and associates would be welcome, I am sure that, like myself, the majority of those present would have chosen to pay their respects to Cathal in a more fitting manner. – Yours, etc., Tom Moore,

Chestnut Grove, Newry, Co Down.


9. Ramzi Nohra - November 9, 2009

Actually I’ve figured it out now, you click on the name underneath the document. I have to say the main predictions of the Garland camp ring true (ie the “liquidators” will merge with the labour party).


Mark P - November 9, 2009

As has been said before, the tragedy is that both sides were broadly correct about the other.

The fact that all three of the central predictions made about the New Agenda crowd have come true did make me laugh when reading them I have to admit. They did indeed become social democrats (and then not even that). They did indeed drop their Northern organisation. And they did indeed merge with Labour.


10. Sticky Wicket - November 9, 2009

Seeing as these De Rossa et al set about destroying something Goulding had devouted so much of his life to creating, you can imagine the ill feeling towards DL memebers particularly leading members who turned up at Cathal’s funeral.

I was there that day and seen people telling De Rossa to leave, I thought it was proper order.

Only ever met Cathal a few times and the last was in Prosperous after Bodenstown one yr, he did not refer to those who formed DL in glowing terms. Those who knew him best knew his attitude towards ‘the liquidators’ and they were the people who were burying him.

If you want to welcomed at a funeral don’t go about destroying the person that died life’s work or repudiating everything they stood for as per the document posted.


11. Mark P - November 9, 2009

Funerals of political figures can be a tricky business, particularly after a split.

People who have had a parting of the ways politically may still want to show their respects, but people who stayed on the side of the deceased are likely to resent it. This issue came up in my own political tradition a few years ago when Ted Grant died.

I see, by the way, that Kieran Allen included some, well, rather factionally charged remarks in his obituary for Chris Harman, the British SWP leader who died last week.


12. WorldbyStorm - November 9, 2009

I think you’re right Mark P. Tricky is the word that came to my mind. On the one hand there is the issue of respects, but the obverse is as you say that those who stayed will feel profoundly resentful. I think a cold shoulder is the best way in such cases rather than abuse. But really, what did De Rossa expect? The WP had split horribly and then to go to the funeral of someone who had stayed on board… nah… best to keep the head down. After all the rawness of emotion at any funeral is bad enough, and btw I was at Anne McGrath’s today…very sad. Really very sad. A good turn out from the left.


13. Drithleóg - November 9, 2009

Goulding’s wasn’t the first funeral De Rossa was told to leave. He turned up at the funeral of Peter Kane, National Organiser of the WP in Castledermot, Co. Kildare in October 1992 and presented a wreath which was rejected, not by the WP, but by the family. You’d think he’d have learned something from that.


14. WorldbyStorm - November 9, 2009

Again, I can understand the impulse to reach out but that really only makes sense if you haven’t left the people already… or at least until sufficient time has passed until anger has subsided.


15. Don Draper - November 9, 2009

Does it not say something about Frank and his history that he went to both Kane and Goulding’s funerals? Do you think Rabbitte or Gilmore bothered, or even thought about it?
By the way the father of a very well known Official IRA hero died earlier this year and at his funeral in Belfast there were ORM, WP, IRSP and Provos (and ex-Provos) and they managed to be civil to each other. It costs nothing to be polite you know.


WorldbyStorm - November 9, 2009

Again, I don’t dispute the impulse on de Rossa’s part, and I couldn’t agree more about politeness, indeed the CLR tries to be a zone where people can interact from those different groups and more on a basis of respect and courtesy, but I think that one cannot ignore the depth of bitterness. There are contexts where for one reason and another it requires superhuman reserves to manager to transcend that. Look I went with DL myself for a while, but I know people from WP and from that time and the depth of hurt and anger and bitterness – and in some respects rightly so – was profound.


Starkadder - November 10, 2009

Yeah. Hanley and Millar mentioned people getting
obituaries in “An Phoblacht” without ever getting
mentioned that they used to be Officials…perhaps that
will change now.


16. Jim Monaghan - November 10, 2009

I would guess that then the WP did not ask De Rossa to oppose the extradition of Sean Garland? Or is this too consistent. The choice is either reaching out to others or being a bitter sectarian, like I suppose O’Hagan.


17. Sidders - November 10, 2009

De Rossa is on record opposing the US harrasment of Garland as are numerous other former DL members


18. Jim Monaghan - November 10, 2009

My point is that to treat De Rossa with blatant personal hostility and then go to him for support was not wise at least in retrospect. Politically I have no time for either him or Garland.It actually says something for De Rossa that he did not keep a grudge.


Ceannaire - February 2, 2014

In fairness he would have had less of a grudge as it wasn’t he who was left with a ruined rump party.


19. Sticky Wicket - November 10, 2009

It is my understanding that De Rossa had attempted to go into the chapel which is tiny and the seats inside were at a premium. This sparked the confrontation and as stated maybe if he had kept his head down and out of the way nothing would of come of it.

But like Peter Kane’s funeral he couldn’t bring himself to keeping a low profile.


20. Jim Monaghan - November 10, 2009

“and as stated maybe if he had kept his head down and out of the way nothing would of come of it.”
I would call this unwitting testimony.


21. Maddog Wilson - November 10, 2009

The ‘ Irish News’ report of the funeral stated that a member of Billy Mcmillans family told De Rossa to leave. Which is fair enough. Eamon McCann wrote the ‘ Guardian’ obituary for Cathal Goulding the day after his death. He took the bull by the horns and talked of Gouldings lifes work being wrecked by a group of people who (At the time of the split) were heading for Coalition with the ‘ Button Down Blueshirts’ of Fine Gael which was true, I cant see how the subject could have been avoided. McCann is not a supporter of the WP and with some skill IMO managed to let the reader know this while expressing personal warmth towards Cathal Goulding. He hit the nail on the head.


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