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Irish Left Archive: Hume/Adams, the ‘peace’ offensive and Republicanism, Irish Workers Group, 1993 March 16, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive.

To download the above please click on the following link. iwg-adams-hume-1993

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This leaflet, issued by the IWG in November 1993, compiles articles and leaflets from the IWG and the LRCI during that year. The focus is on the ‘Hume/Adams’ talks and the broader context in the North during that period.

So there are pieces that examine the aftermath of the Shankill and Greysteel attacks, another which is a reprint from Workers Power entitled ‘Behind the Peace Talks’. Matt Docherty assesses the situation in the context of ‘recent historic changes in world politics’ and a piece looks at the SWM and Militant responses to the peace process.


1. Pangurbán - March 16, 2020

When did things group disappear!


2. dhalligan - March 16, 2020

Anyone know what happened to this group? I can see it became ‘Workers’ Power’ but their website is inactive.


Jim Monaghan - March 16, 2020

Here they are. https://fifthinternational.org/about-us At least they opposed Brexit. I believe they are in the UK Labour Party.


Jim Monaghan - March 16, 2020

A selection of their articles on Ireland. https://fifthinternational.org/category/1/128/150

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dhalligan - March 16, 2020

Thanks for that. I guess the Irish branch is inactive then?

Liked by 1 person

pettyburgess - March 16, 2020

It just slowly faded away. They stopped producing a regular paper or magazine in the early 1990s and had more or less disappeared by the late 90s.

There was apparently still two or three of them in Galway for a long time after they stopped producing publications and disappeared from view. When their British sister group split in the mid 2000s, they were expelled from their international organisation along with the minority in Britain. I think it came as a surprise to most at that time that there was still an Irish group to expel. They appear to have become defunct soon afterwards.

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Pangurbán - March 16, 2020

So according to these three people (and I suspect that they constituted the entire group membership rather than being co authors)
The SWM were wrong
The SP were wrong
The stickies were wrong
The provos were wrong

As the rhyme once went about small religious sects
“ we are saved we are saved
And all the rest are damned
There’s only room for you and me
We can’t have heaven crammed “

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3. Jim Monaghan - March 17, 2020

They ere a very annoying crowd. In the SLP they would propose a resolution to conference. When it lost, the same resolution would appear as amendments to other resolutions. Allowing them to bore the living daylights out of everyone. I felt that this abuse of democracy fed into the gains by the Workers Party from the SLP. Thye took up abortion rights, the line being that only they really supported it. The troika were Johnstone, MacWilliams and Larragy. Dogmatists and sectarians.


Alibaba - March 17, 2020

For the record, it was Matt Merrigan who, as Chair of a SLP Congress session, passed a motion proposed by IWG, for tendencies in the SLP, without any peep of opposition from anyone. It is true that tendencies were later attacked by some, including you Jim, as a recipe for failure of such a party. But it must be remembered that Matt was ultimately defending and cutting off the SLP machine from the militants, who were most often within the tendencies, and their criticisms of a party that prioritised the local elections and declined to uphold the mandating of TDs, support the H Block prisoners or support abortion rights and so on.

To call the ‘troika’ as ‘sectarians’ is wrong. Sectarianism isn’t a behaviour that is rude, nasty or disagreeable to other leftists, or even that they criticise the programmes of others, but that they actively counterpose their own organisation and/or its fronts to the needs of the class struggle and instead prioritise the need to grow their own organisation at the expense of the wider movement. The IWG did the polar opposite, going out on a polemical bent in the extreme, because they believed some things needed stating and fought for. Did they pursue things relentlessly as you suggest? Yes, they did and they went trodden their own pathways. That’s why they discouraged, but also influenced some on the left.

Johnston, Larragy and McWilliams co-authored a book under the IWG banner. It is called ‘Connolly A Marxist Analysis’ and they have agreed to contribute every word of this book to the CLR Archive, and other IWG documents have come here from many different contributors. Johnston, Larragy and McWilliams stand on their record as authors and activists. By all means assert your misgivings, but to put them down unforgivingly despite their decades of analysis and struggle in trade unions, universities, campaigns, etc. is inconsiderate. I gotta say thumbs down to that.


Jim Monaghan - March 18, 2020

I am all for recognition of tendencies and disagreements. The IWG misused these democratic rights. In my opinion, this fed into a huge annoyance with many SLP members and the result was that the non-tendency Workers Party was the gainer in the collapse of the SLP.


Alibaba - March 18, 2020

As I understand it Jim, your group took up tendency rights, having declined ever to argue for them, and formed a group within the SLP. So did others. Since then you have mentioned somewhat approvingly that Matt Merrigan cited tendency conflict as a factor in the failure of the SLP.

Anyone who puts a priority on the direct and united action of the class must surely make their sectarian interests secondary to the building of a militant party oriented to the working class. Of course such a party will not have theoretical agreement on a lot of things. Of course, there will be a lot of internal discussion and disagreements and it will have to abide by majority positions on many concrete issues of struggle.

I don’t expect people to collapse their groups into a new party, rather fight for their lines internally and externally go with the policies democratically agreed, whether content with them or not. You may call this ‘boring’ and ‘misused’. I see it as showing an unshakeable commitment to democracy in action. I salute the Workers’ Party for growing after SLP days because having left voices in the Dáil was a plus.


WorldbyStorm - March 18, 2020

On an aside, did the WP really benefit off the back of the SLP’s fall? I guess perhaps a little. But it did have a wider/widish geographic spread that the SLP didn’t seem to have. Now wouldn’t that have been interesting having WP and SLP TDs getting a fair few seats.


Alibaba - March 18, 2020

I am tempted to agree with you. As for the reason for WP growth and whether it’s related to SLP tendency conflicts, I’ll leave that to Jim and his take.

Liked by 1 person

Joe - March 18, 2020

“On an aside, did the WP really benefit off the back of the SLP’s fall?”

I was mulling that myself. I doubt many who had been SLP members subsequently joined WP. Both left groups but very different – the Trotskyist/Stalinist divergence obviously but also the North/national question.

But then, with the SLP folded, the WP had much of the space to the left of the Labour Party to themselves for a good spell. So, for example, the likes of me looking for a left party to join in c1985 didn’t have the SLP as an option (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have joined them and would still have joined WP but innanyways the option wasn’t there). And WP election candidates didn’t have competition from SLP ones – so ordinary voters inclined to vote left … that vote was less split.

Further. Where did ex SLP people end up? Back in their various smaller parties/sects, some maybe back in the Labour Party, some in no party but active in trade unions and civil society groups and campaigns and some I suppose in their armchairs.


Colm B - March 18, 2020

A very decent fellow by the named of Martin Logan who had been in SLP did join our branch of of the WP in Dun Laoghaire in the mid 80s but his membership was vetoed by head office ( despite his protestations, he was deemed to be a Trotskyist) when his probationary membership ended. Later in the 80s Dermot Boucher who had been a local candidate for SLP joined our branch and was a very active member for some years. He had no probs with HQ probably because SLP long dead and membership regime had become more relaxed.

BTW, the WP always had factions/tendencies but they were not publicly acknowledged and operated at an elite and/or covert level.


Daniel Rayner O'Connor - March 18, 2020

Certainly, some SLP members did enter what was then the SF/WP., most notably the late Mick Enright of Wexford. He did so mainly on the national Q. I don’t think he considered the Trotsky/Stalin issue.
As for Ali’s point about the IWG fighting for its policies, I would remark that trying to add a motion already defeated as an amendment to another motion is unlikely to get the educated support for the proposed policy that is necessary for its support.


4. Jim Monaghan - March 19, 2020

“he WP had much of the space to the left of the Labour Party to themselves for a good spell.” Maybe not direct members, but the milieu. And the WPO could state with some justification that Trotskyists were not serious. This had an effect. But the demise of the SLP left a vacuum. I don’t think it would have been particularly ideological but on the level of seriousness.


Joe - March 19, 2020

“And the WP could state with some justification that Trotskyists were not serious.”

Yep, that was my take for a long, long time. In fairness, they’ve gotten a lot more serious in the last decade or two. And I often wonder how serious the Stalinists are now. Not very, for sure.
Unfortunately, for the majority in the WP who ended up in the LP, being ‘serious’ ultimately meant … being in the LP.

We need a new party… the Serious Labour and Workers Party. Seriously.

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