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ILA Podcast #14: John Goodwillie: Young Socialists, Socialist Labour Alliance, SWM, Socialist Labour Party, Gralton magazine and the Green Party November 2, 2020

Posted by Aonrud ⚘ in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Uncategorized.
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In this episode we talk to John Goodwillie. John is a long-time political activist, who has been involved in a number of progressive parties and organisations. He was a member of Labour in the 1960s and belonged to the Young Socialists, Socialist Labour Action Group and subsequent Socialist Labour Alliance. He was involved with the Socialist Workers’ Movement (SWM) in the 1970s, and joined the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) when the SWM merged with that party as a tendency, and remained on the National Executive until the SLP’s dissolution.

John was on the editorial board of Gralton magazine. He has also participated in a number of campaign groups, including the Dublin Clean Seas Group, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) – on the executive of which John served in various roles – and the National Lesbian and Gay Federation. Since 1990 he has been a member of the Green Party, and was the party’s candidate in Dublin South Central for Dáil and local elections through the 1990s. He has been involved in policy formation and served as Secretary of the Party’s Policy Council.

We discuss the history of Irish Left organisations since the 1960s and John’s own political trajectory: from Labour in the 1960s, through organisations seeking to form a party of the Left. We also discuss Gralton magazine and John’s political activity in the 1980s and in the Greens since 1990.

John created a ‘family tree of the left’ diagram, which provided an overview of the splits, merges and relationships between organisations on the Irish Left, printed in Gralton in 1983. It was an online copy of this which inspired the creation of the Timeline of the Irish Left on our own website – John’s diagram gave us a starting basis for it, and we are indebted to John both for that and for subsequent suggestions and corrections to the initial version.

The Gralton Family Tree of the Left, by John Goodwillie. From Gralton magazine, 1983. (Image from DublinOpinion.com)
The Gralton Family Tree of the Left, by John Goodwillie. From Gralton magazine, 1983. (Image from DublinOpinion.com)

Some materials in the archive may be of interest to listeners in the context of the discussion.

From the fourth issue of The Worker, the aims of the Socialist Workers’ Movement (SWM):

SWM - What we stand for

The Fintan Lalor branch of the Labour party mentioned in the podcast was expelled in 1971. Listeners may be interested in this article from Labour News Bulletin announcing the expulsion:

Labour News Bulletin, July 1971, on the dissolution of the Fintan Lalor branch and expulsion of Paddy Healy for membership of the Socialist Labour Alliance.
Labour News Bulletin, July 1971, on the dissolution of the Fintan Lalor branch and expulsion of Paddy Healy for membership of the Socialist Labour Alliance.

Gralton magazine was published in 1982-83. This is the first issue of the magazine: Gralton, No. 1 .

If you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe. If you use a podcast app, it should come up in most of them if you search for “Irish Left Archive Podcast”, or use one of the links below.


1. alanmyler - November 2, 2020

Another very interesting interview. Out of interest do you know which work by Rudolf Bahro he was referring to in relation to the idea that the conflict between the industrial system and the environment has overtaken the class struggle as the most important issue facing humanity?


WorldbyStorm - November 2, 2020

From Red To Green covers a fair bit of that.

Liked by 1 person

alanmyler - November 3, 2020

Thanks. I’ve just found Bahro’s Socialism Or Survival on my bookshelf, which I’d forgotten that I had. Nice surprise.

Liked by 1 person

2. lcox - November 2, 2020

John wrote an excellent pamphlet in 1988, “Colours in the rainbow: ecology, socialism and Ireland” – there’s a copy in the NLI. Many years ago I OCRed a copy (with permission) for a now-defunct website but the Internet Archive doesn’t seem to be able to find it again, alas.


lcox - November 2, 2020

Should have said: John was (and no doubt still is) a real gent. Together with the late lamented Roy Johnston, one of a handful of people who helped the often inept members of the GP organise themselves.

Amazing how often it’s lefties, or ex-lefties who wind up being the people with the skills to keep bourgeois organisations afloat – like the autonomists say, capital can create sweet FA of its own accord and is basically parasitic on our creativity.


WorldbyStorm - November 2, 2020

He’s a very sound person. I was looking for that leaflet actually. One bookshop has it but it’s closed for renovations. So fingers crossed. If you do find a copy in PDF format there’s an archive that would love it! 🙂

Very true re organisation.

Liked by 1 person

lcox - November 3, 2020

I’ll keep looking!

Liked by 1 person

3. Joe - November 3, 2020

Gralton, the magazine, was a good publication. Came out just as I was in my early twenties and politically interested. I remember there were two sort of biographical booklets published about Gralton the man at that time as well.
Must try to find them again some time.
There was a bit about his and his anti-Treaty IRA comrades’ work in land redistribution in Leitrim after the War of Independence. I’d love to read it again with a more critical eye.


CL - November 3, 2020

And the Ken Loach movie ‘Jimmy’s Hall’

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