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Left Archive: Labour, The Party Programme, Irish Labour Party Conference, 1980 March 29, 2010

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Labour Party, Irish Left Online Document Archive.

LP PROG 1980

A few short words on this document which fills a gap in the Archive between the 1990s and the 1970s as regards the Irish Labour Party. Note the use of the Starry Plough on the cover, in a very modern incarnation and set within a predominantly red black and white colour scheme. This harder edged imagery is somewhat echoed by a text which happily utilises the word ‘socialist’ from the off.

Brendan Halligan, then General Secretary provides an introduction and notes that…

The LP is required under its constitution to publish from time to time a Party Programme which it is intended, would state the party’s basic principles together with an outline of the policies whereby they can be implemented.

The Programme is to be distinguished from an election manifesto which normally is confined to short-term issues as they relate to an election. The Programme has a longer vision and, indeed, a different purpose. It shold be the basic guide for all party activity over a generation.

It continues…

It is appropriate that at the beginning of a new decade the LP should once again address itself to a restatement of its basic socialist objectives and the means whereby they can be achieved in practice. It is always a challenge to a serious political party to abstract itself from the day to day pressures of politics and to reappraise its policies in the light of change.

And concludes…

The Labour Party accepted that challenge and updated its Programme to meet the new demands and priorities of the eighties. It offers this Party Programme as its vision of Ireland during that decade, an Ireland organized on socialist lines.

And inside? Well, count the ways in which so much has stayed as it was. Or worsened.

Page 23…

As a socialist party, Labour’s objective is to devise an equitable taxation structure which will include all income earners within the taxation base and which will be levied on all earnings, no matter how they are derived. The aim will be to effect a real redistribution of income and wealth between the different groups in society so as to bring about greater equality and the elimination of poverty…

Page 29

The fundamental aim of the Labour Party n this vital area [Health] is the establishment of a free comprehensive health system for all citizens incorporating a general medical, hospital and specialist service, dental, aural and opthalmic services and free medicines to be provided on doctor’s prescriptions.

Our socialist policy on health is based on the acceptance of equality and the right of every citizen to medical treatment without cost.

Interesting reading page 10 on “The Unity of the Irish People” which attempts to straddle a number of different positions relating the North, although is surprisingly sharp in its thoughts on ‘the second Unionist veto’ (p.11).

As ever, there’s more. Apologies for the quality of the scan, I hope it’s reasonably legible.


1. LeftAtTheCross - March 29, 2010

Interesting document, I’ll give it a proper read tonight.

Did any of the program make it into government policy during the FG/LP coalition governments of the 80s?

Aside: From a quick scan one of the things that caught my eye was article on housing policy (18.9) which states that first time buyers should receive 100% mortgages. Of course such a seemingly well meaning policy aspiration became reality some 30 years later and poured fuel onto the most recent boom/bust cycle. Damned if you do…


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