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Two Workers Party’s? April 19, 2021

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
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I see that Councillor Ted Tynan has been elected President of The Workers Party

except that this was not an official Ard Fheis. ….

sad to see the Party split like this.

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1. banjoagbeanjoe - April 19, 2021

Two Workers Party’s whats?

Was racking my brains trying to remember the name of the other president. Michael Donnelly I think? Not as well-known as Ted Tynan who isn’t very well-known outside of Cork.

Sean Garland and Cathal Goulding were in a dream I had about a week ago. Mad isn’t it!

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alanmyler - April 19, 2021

Did Garland or Goulding offer any advice on the current situation Banjo?

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EWI - April 19, 2021

Did Garland or Goulding offer any advice on the current situation Banjo?

Who gets the bars and the clubs? From rumour alone, there seems to be significant amounts of money at stake.

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benmadigan - April 19, 2021

With dreams like that lockdown must be really getting to you Banjo!

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2. Jim Monaghan - April 19, 2021

I suppose there are underlying disagreements over policy. A rough idea of these might be of interest. I heard that the AC wing are for a bit more emphasis on republicanism and a positive attitude towards a referendum. But I have no first hand knowledge.

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3. WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

The Phoenix is reporting that Tynan was expelled last week – ‘informed via email’ and hence the special conference went ahead online. It also claims that the Business Committee left last year. Interestingly it points to a border poll as one of the issues that has caused tensions. But it also seems to point to a generational divide as a major factor plus a power struggle between Belfast and Dublin ‘offices’.

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Paul Culloty - April 19, 2021

PBP seem to have captured the support base of the NI party, so to what extent is this Borges’s “two bald men fighting over a comb”?

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roddy - April 19, 2021

No PBP did not capture their support base in the North.Firstly they had no support base to capture and secondly anyone voting for PBP in Belfast would would run a mile if it was suggested to them they were formerly Sticks.PBP’s vote is a mixture of disgruntled Republicans and post troubles youngsters.If PBP were to start complaining about Republican funerals or disrespecting the hunger strikers for example they would sink without trace.

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GearóidGaillimh - April 19, 2021

There are a lot of people disillusioned with SF in west Belfast who will consider voting PBP but won’t consider the WP, so it’s not surprising the former have grown while the latter have stagnated. And given the WP vote in west Belfast has been in three figures since the 1990s there wasn’t a big existing vote to capture anyway.

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4. James McBarron - April 19, 2021

Effectively there was a head office coup, but the net result seems to be the vast bulk of the northern membership and their resources and practically everyone in Cork including the WPs only elected rep have simply decide that as the whole thing was done so undemocratically that they have simply carried on without the others. An ard fheis involving both factions would have been interesting but inevitably led to the BCs victory. Kinda shitty the way Ted was excluded from meetings given he’s been WP since the foundation. I suspect in any court case should it come to that the courts will come down in favour of the BC. Ted is very well respected on the left in Cork even amongst republicans even though he is very orthodox in terms of the WP line on the north.

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Enzo - April 19, 2021

James, you are so heroically misinformed on the issues that it is actually hilarious to read. You must be the only provo in existence to take the word of these jokers as gospel.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

James could you expand a bit on TT’s line on the north. Do you mean he’s unorthodox from a republican position or from a WP position?

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roddy - April 19, 2021

He’s even more neo unionist than the rest of them.

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alanmyler - April 19, 2021

Roddy you must be delighted, two Workers’ Parties for you to give out about now 😉

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James McBarron - April 19, 2021

His orthodoxy would be along the line that the provos were a FF creation, unity referendum talk is bad because stirs things up etc. Not an issue in Cork where no one would even be aware of that stuff, apart from political
anoraks

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

Sorry, rereading your original comment I see what you mean, yes, he’d certainly seem to be instinctively more likely to align with a more – shall we say – traditional WP line on the North. And agree, not really an issue in the broader sense where those views are very much a minority opinion.

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James McBarron - April 19, 2021

Hmmm! Its kinda hard for me to swallow the Ted Tynan is the dissident line. I have read the stuff put out by both sides even the snide nasty comments on facebook (gave up on fb since). Ted is straight up about his politics always has been since Ive known him and quite open about his political agenda always. But I have no dog in this race.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

Don’t think it’s so much that he would be dissident as the party has moved slightly more towards republican socialism from its previous iteration and some are hugely hostile to any manifestation of republicanism however mild. To many of us outside the WP camp – particularly those of us who would broadly be republican socialists – the differences would seem almost minuscule in a functional sense, but clearly inside they seem much greater and of much greater significance.

Though I’m reminded of John Sullivan’s overview of Trotskyism in the UK and his thought that ‘James P. Cannon, the mentor of both Healy and Banda, used to say that in any split there was always two reasons: a good reason and the real reason.’

The complaints on both sides about differing ideological perspectives might be a good reason, but are they the real reason?

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James McBarron - April 19, 2021

Essentially Garland was liquidating the party selling off the infrastructure Dublin building, Cork building attempted to get the northerners to sell the clubs etc. and moving away from any real political activity. Why? Well some say he accepted that SF were on the right track and the WP project had degenerated into something with no real historical role anymore and was because of its neo unionist politics an obstacle to the socialist republican agenda. That would put the divide along the lines of anti SF WP versus soft republican WP, but the real reason being the outworking of Garlands liquidationist plan.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

Hmmmm… is there any proof that Garland held those views? I’m not saying it’s impossible but is it very plausible? And not clear that those on the AC side are particularly soft on SF to judge from public statements over the years.

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James - April 19, 2021

There are differences between the two camps with regard to the national question, but then there remain a range of views within the WP even after the departure of the BC.

I would say the difference between the Business Committee and the WP-Ard Comhairle in terms of the national question is that the Business Committee focus almost exclusively on sectarianism as the evil afflicting the north.

Sectarianism is obviously really negative but people on the Ard Comhairle take a more cynical view of the role of the British state in fostering it, supporting loyalist paramilitaries etc.

This does have some political consequences in terms of focus, tone, and plotting a way forward.

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Enzo - April 19, 2021

It’s hard for me to swallow Ted Tynan’s tears about undemocratic behaviour considering he regularly put forward Council motions without consulting the branch in Cork. One of these motions linked Glysophate to Autism.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

That’s not great.

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alanmyler - April 19, 2021

Well the lack of scientific understanding wouldn’t be limited to Ted. The previous time that the leading party member locally stopped talking to me for a few years was over his endorsement on a certain social media platform of scaremongering about chemtrails. Being serious here it’s an awful problem when anyone on the Left comes out with such shite, whether about chemteails or herbicides. I take your point about proposing motions at council being more serious than social media posts. It’s something we all need to work at to better.

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alanmyler - April 19, 2021

Well the lack of scientific understanding wouldn’t be limited to Ted. The previous time that the leading party member locally stopped talking to me for a few years was over his endorsement on a certain social media platform of scaremongering about chemtrails. Being serious here it’s an awful problem when anyone on the Left comes out with such shite, whether about chemteails or herbicides. I take your point about proposing motions at council being more serious than social media posts. It’s something we all need to work at to better. Just to be clear, that leading local party member is on the CEC and Management Committee of the WP(AC). You know who I mean.

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Gavin Mendel-Gleason - April 20, 2021

“An ard fheis involving both factions would have been interesting but inevitably led to the BCs victory. ”

This is the complete opposite of reality. The AC begged the BC over and over to register their branches so that an AF could be held and the faction just patently refused. Ted said he would register but then completely failed to do so after 6 months of pleading from the AC.

You can’t hold an AF if you don’t know who is in the organisation or who is a delegate. It’s just a logical impossibility. Nothing was done undemocratically from head-office in any way.

The final split occurred precisely because there was no possible way the BC would win an AF. The 14 out of 18 on the AC who have remained were indicative of the way it would fall again in a new AC and was a major precipitating factor in the BC deciding to refuse registration and organise an alternative AF.

Had they been able to win at AF they would simply have registered and taken the AC democratically.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

Yeah, that didn’t seem accurate. I’d like to know the supporting evidence for that statement re inevitable BC victory.

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5. Jim Monaghan - April 19, 2021

Oh for the days when Moscow could decide on the franchise holder. Four contenders, CPI, CYM, and two WPIs.

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roddy - April 19, 2021

I had stopped giving out about them until they started equating “British and Irish nationalism” and issuing self righteous demands about a border poll,the result of which they are in absolutely no position to influence.

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6. pettyburgess - April 19, 2021

It looks to me that there’s a strong chance of this ending up in court, given that there are significant assets at stake by the standards of small parties. And that both sides claim what is presumably a registered electoral name in two jurisdictions.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

Agree re the registered electoral name, but I wonder does the party in the South own any property to its name at all? And even in the North would the party as an entity own property outright?

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EWI - April 19, 2021

but I wonder does the party in the South own any property to its name at all? And even in the North would the party as an entity own property outright?

Who would really know the score on this, except core personalities? All sorts of rumours going round for years about the real (republican) ownership of certain pubs in my home locality, one of which actually acquired circumstantial proof in a murder case.

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Fergal - April 19, 2021

Democratic centralism decentralised?

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pettyburgess - April 19, 2021

I’m reasonably sure that there’s a HQ building in Dublin. I don’t know about other property, or what’s held by the party or party trustees or what’s in the names of individuals etc.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

Think it’s an office they’ve got now.

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alanmyler - April 19, 2021

I couldn’t say anything definitive about that but as I understood it the Hill St building was sold a good while ago and the more recent office there was rented from the new owner who had developed the site. The party was more recently renting a smaller office in a shared building in Cabra/Phibsborough. Of there was ever property wealth in the party I’d say it’s long gone.

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7. Pangurbán - April 19, 2021

If it does go to court the”discovery of documents “ process should be entertaining.

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8. Colm B - April 19, 2021

Why are we interested? Well for some of us it’s a curiousity (or perhaps political prurience!) with a pinch of nostalgia, having once been members ourselves. We have no skin in the game, but it’s a bit like when you hear the old school you went to is closing down or that something has happened to an ex or a friend you fell out with long ago – you want to know because it once meant something to you and these things have an afterlife.

But on a rational, political level, I have three, somewhat contradictory thoughts. On the one hand anything that weakens Stalinist (or orthodox communist) organisations is a plus as it clears away space for democratic socialist organisations or at least non-campist ones. One the other hand the end results of these splits if often lots of disillusioned people who just drop out of politics altogether, a loss to the left.

Here’s an optimistic take though: Once these divisions happen, organisations can develop rapidly in unpredictable directions. With the WP(AC), it’s possible, given the changes that have happened in the last few years, that maybe they will develop further in a direction that moves them away from Stalinism?

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Colm B - April 19, 2021

WP(AC) flaunt Officials nostalgia
WP(BC) haunted by Officials nostalgia
AC youth, Twitter, cool graphics
BC oldies, press releases, boring website
AC links with Stalinists abroad
BC links with monster raving Stalinists abroad
AC members, little money
BC clubs n pubs, lots of money
AC Dublin
BC Belfast and Cork
AC. Sticks
BC Walking sticks? (Lighten up folks, I’m an oldie with a gamy knee myself)

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Enzo - April 19, 2021

the split in Cork is 60-40 in favour of the BC. That camp also includes a rampant homophobe amongst other elderly members.

The only active promotion of the party outside of Ted’s election campaigns came from the younger 40% of members

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

Just on that last, that’s a huge problem and not just in the WP, where political activity only functions around electoralism. It’s actually a good sign if people are willing to do the campaigning outside of that. So fair dues to those members.

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WorldbyStorm - April 19, 2021

BTW, that’s a great summing up ColmB. I feel much the same, there’s a natural interest in something that was a huge part of my life but now feels distanced both by time and by ideology and a raft of factors. At the same time I know there are convinced leftists in the WP(s) or who have left it over the years some of whom have given much of their life to not just the party but campaigns and so on and who – perhaps sometimes grudgingly – even some very hostile to them would have a degree of respect for. And having been through the same split as yourself I think you’d agree how all this means friendships will be over, people won’t talk, a good portion of people whatever their stated position today will simply walk or leave over the next few years and so on. And that constitutes a loss to the broader left whatever way one cuts it, even if there’s many aspects of the WP’s programme and orientation that many of us outside it would be sharply at odds with.

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Colm B - April 19, 2021

Yes WBS, in human terms it can be really tough. It’s a very strong friendship that survives a split. That said, political wounds can heal – those of us who formed the ISN in 2001 had come from opposite sides in the 1992 split and indeed some had just walked away from both WP and DL.

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banjoagbeanjoe - April 19, 2021

the split in Cork is 60-40 in favour of the BC.

So there’s six members of BCWP in Cork and four members of ACWP?

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EWI - April 20, 2021

I think you mean ‘3-2’

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9. James O'Brien - April 20, 2021

In reply to James McBarron, above:
“Essentially Garland was liquidating the party selling off the infrastructure Dublin building, Cork building attempted to get the northerners to sell the clubs etc. and moving away from any real political activity. Why? Well some say he accepted that SF were on the right track and the WP project had degenerated into something with no real historical role anymore and was because of its neo unionist politics an obstacle to the socialist republican agenda. That would put the divide along the lines of anti SF WP versus soft republican WP, but the real reason being the outworking of Garlands liquidationist plan.”

Garland most definitely was not a fan of SF. Apart from any historical reasons he viewed them as 21st century Fianna Fáil. But mostly he hadn’t much interest in them, as far as I can tell, certainly zero interest in emulating them. He was a socialist and he just didn’t think they were socialists.

You should be careful about picking up pieces of information and treating them as fact. One or two of the Cork branch, were, in my experience very bitter at Garland for the sale of the Cork building back in the 1990s.

I don’t know the story but Ted was obsessive about it; every time we met him it would end in a lecture about Garland selling that property back in the 1990s and how we in Dublin were too friendly with him etc etc. Whether it was the right decision or not, it is not as if Sean rode off into the sunset with the loot.

Garland was, of the older leaders, by far the person most interested in activity and rebuilding a connection with working people. He was interested in *thinking* about how to do it. It’s a big reason why he got on with the younger Dublin members.

He didn’t attempt to block activity at all, and was really very pleased to see people out and about. It’s likely the BC elements would have crushed any revival before it got off the ground if he hadn’t been around. It’s what they did when people in Belfast there started doing stuff in late 2019.

To say Seán was trying to liquidate the party is bizarre. If nothing else, he would probably have succeeded if that was the case!

No, he was disappointed by its failure to recover after 1992 — the only one of the old leaders that I heard admit that in a meeting — he wasn’t prepared to simply remain stuck in a rut as society changed around him. He was prepared to try new things, whether a broad left magazine or allow us space to organise in Dublin. Was there any other even mildly successful initiative shown by any of his critics in the party?

I realise you have contacts in Cork – and I admit I would be surprised if your view did not coincide with Ted’s and the BC’s — but, if interested, it is worth taking the trouble to analyse for yourself the state of the organisation and its progress over the last while (age, activity, constituency work, publishing, media, public meetings etc) before concluding that Garland wanted to liquidate the party. Which elements were stagnating and which were advancing, however incrementally? Garland and the Ard Comahirle will be mostly associated with whatever improvement there was.

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10. The man with the bike - April 20, 2021

The Cork building was nearly acquired by DL. Court case involved. I recall they won a pile of money from ESB as well. The stickies let Ashe Hall fall in to complete ruin, with tree growing out of the top floor and window and roof smashed. Btw James McB is an anarchist not a provo

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Enzo - April 20, 2021

James recently re-joined the provos, so you’re mistaken there.

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11. Gavin Mendel-Gleason - April 20, 2021

WBS: “The complaints on both sides about differing ideological perspectives might be a good reason, but are they the real reason?”

While motives are very hard to pin and prove, there are functional objective realities that drove the split and which are undeniable facts.

The core members of the BC were very hostile to the revitalisation that occurred in Dublin. Ted, long hostile to Sean Garland, likewise viewed this revitalisation with a great deal of suspicion as he viewed it as being controlled by Sean.

Over the course of the last 6 years, the core members of the BC, Lily Kerr, Gerry Grainger and Brian McDermot, along with those they were able to bring into their orbit, attempted to block every single political initiative that came from the new members. It was really only possible for this activity to take place because Sean Garland and Mickey Donnelly protected the newer members from the brunt of these quite forceful moves to stop the activity.

The BC at the same time could involve themselves in almost no political activity whatsoever. They recruited no more than can be counted on one hand in the 6 years that I’ve been in the party. By whatever judgement, a political approach that leads to this is fundamentally doomed just by the physiological fact of human mortality.

This wasn’t a mere question of strategic orientation or ideological direction. It was a question of really having a political project which involved something other than statements on the internet.

Worse these leading BC members would routinely vote to keep or increase expenditures even whilst the party was bleeding funds, and their richest members contributed virtually nothing at all.

As for why they took this approach, and were so hostile to revitalisation – I suspect that there are multiple interests involved and it can’t be resolve to a single cause.

In the case of Ted, a relative late-comer to any sort of accommodation with the BC, it was suspicion of Garland, stuborness and probably a general view that Dublin is probably always wrong anyhow as it isn’t in Cork.

In the case of Gerry Grainger, and Brian McDermot, I think they just like being in the lead of something, and are strategically utterly incompetent. They can’t recruit anyone to their strange brand of politics, and in the absence of the like-minded new recruits present the dangers of potentially new leaders.

However there are darker factors lurking beneath the surface having to do with the assets, and the vestiges of another organisation. There are still some assets in the north, some directly controlled by the party and some more loosely.

With Garland gone there was always going to be a change of leadership direction from the remaining loyalties. Seamus Harrison who inherited this position, did not want to have any discussion of how these assets are utilised or what is done with them. As such a viable political project was 100% a liability as it might pose questions. A dying political party with some pontificating buffoons on the other hand is fine. One doesn’t have to look very hard to see that there are some real serious questions about how these assets are being used, and for what purpose.

One thing is clear though, unlike with Sean Garland, who always used funds for political projects like LookLeft and revitalisation, these assets are not being used to do anything political and never will be.

The BC will stick around likely for as long as the membership is still alive, but it will slowly fade from existence.

I spent a fair bot of the last 6 years of my life thinking very hard about how to revitalise the WP while holding things together – and many others have tried this along side, both young and old. In the end it proved impossible. You simply can’t stop people who don’t get their way from splitting if they can not suffer under decisions that are not theirs.

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Colm B - April 20, 2021

Ok so Gavin’s take, to my mind, is an accurate account of the BC group.

Here’s the thing though, and it echoes what has happened before with the WP: It takes a split for people to acknowledge truths that they denounced as lies not long before.

The two key facts that Gavin alludes to: the existence of a small clique in Belfast, who have enriched themselves, and the continued, though much diminished, existence of Group B or some ghostly remnant of it, has been true all along. It arose as a key issue in the 1992 split and much more so in the 1998 split. The fact is that even if their motivations weren’t genuine ( in De Ross’s et al’s case they definitely weren’t, in the ORMs case I think they were) the critics of the party were telling the truth about the facts in relation to Gavin’s darker forces. Yet, I suspect most of the WP/AC membership would had vehemently denied these facts before the development of this latest split.

So it would be good to hear the likes of Gavin and James say openly: “look we don’t accept any of the criticisms of the WPs politics, but see where our critics raised the existence of Group B and the clique in the North, and we denied it, we acknowledge that they were correct.” That would indicate a genuine change in approach as opposed to a more cynical relationship to the truth.

I not being holier than thou here: I spent the best part of the 1980s denouncing anyone who dared raise a peek about Group B, when I was fully aware of it’s existence. Then when it was politically convenient for me, during the DL split, I turned around and told the truth about that organisation. It was good that I stopped lying but rather hypocritical of me to deny that I had been lying all along.

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Gavin Mendel-Gleason - April 20, 2021

I came into the WP having read “The Lost Revolution”. As such I’ve never felt any need for denial.

I can say, however, that my contact with Sean Garland coloured my view of the remnants to be overly rosy. His political mind was very dynamic, he was totally dedicated to socialist politics and he wanted to massify the party again and pull it out of its death spiral.

While these drives doesn’t necessarily mean that those who have them will have the same view on strategy, the genuine desire to succeed and a bit of good faith are a recipe for potential success.

So mea culpa: I did indeed over generalise and assumed that these qualities might be held more widely in circles with which I had far less contact.

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Eoin O'Mahony - April 20, 2021

I wish people would look less to underlying political disagreements and long standing disputes (like from the 1980s, seriously?) and more to the simple fact that some liked the colour of the ball and just wanted it all the time to play with. Sometimes the most mundane reason is the best one.

As Gavin says: “You simply can’t stop people who don’t get their way from splitting if they can not suffer under decisions that are not theirs.”

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

I’m not unsympathetic to your point re not looking too far into the past for reasons, and yet I also feel that the WP has had, not in its entirety and I’m not saying this of you personally, an obsessive awareness of Sinn Féin across the decades to the extent that it has seemed at times like a forty or fifty year odd whinge that, well, someone took their ball back in 1969/1970 and they never got it back. I’m aware that’s a simplification and I’m sure you’ll say that’s not the case – or not the case for many members, and there’s no doubt some truth in that, but talking to some members over the years right up to recent times that seems to have been a consistent thread. And it could well be that the newer cohorts have sought to evade or move on from that and carve out an identity that is more than something shaped by events of half a century ago.

That said I take on board what you’re saying about control and how that could have been a factor.

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pearsemonnet - April 20, 2021

From WbS:
“an obsessive awareness of Sinn Féin across the decades to the extent that it has seemed at times like a forty or fifty year odd whinge that, well, someone took their ball back in 1969/1970 and they never got it back. I’m aware that’s a simplification and . . .

But that is understandable.

In one way, it’s simple political rivalry. Competition for the same pool of supporters.

In another way, it’s a hostility borne of the strategically disastrous effects of the creation of the Provisionals.

A politico-military development that went nowhere, further divided Ireland, and weakened our timeless and ancient nation for the next 100 years.

Each faction of the ’69 split sees the other as an aberration, a House of Mirrors distortion of themselves. And an obstacle to their own plans.

I read a quote that stuck in my head from Adams in the early 80s. He responded to the electoral breakthrough of the Worker’s Party. In the February 1982 GE when the party took 3 Dail seats, and passed 50,000 1st preference votes.

Having tasted electoral success with the 1981 hunger strikers getting elected, Adams had big ambitions now.

He said: “they are taking our support; those seats should be OURS.”

The arrogance!

Those seats are the people’s.
But the mentality is telling.

But you’re right, WbS. Only time will result in the disintegration of the bitterness. Much as has occurred with the supporters of the 2 ruling gangs currently in govt.

Time is the great healer!

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roddy - April 20, 2021

Adams himself had already made the breakthrough in 82.From nowhere to 5 assembly seats and 10% of the vote in one leap.

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Colm B - April 20, 2021

I think Adams and co did learn from the Officials/WP in a number of ways. First, that if you moved too fast in ending the armed struggle, you would loose support and end up being marginalised and superceded by a more militant force.
Second, that to make a breakthrough in the south, you had to engage in consistent campaigning on bread and butter issues in working class areas. And probably a good deal later, that you had to keep a tight control of the leadership of the movement and not allow an alternative centre of power to develop amongst public reps.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

The odd thing, and roddy might back me up on this, generally I’ve found there’s intense curiosity on the part of a lot of SF members I know about the WP but not the hostility or obsession that seems to be prevalent amongst some of those who took the other side. Some hated the sticks, and given the feuds etc hardly surprising, but less of that than I expected. No great surprise there either, SF in the long term was the formation that essentially was able to outpass them and then some, so easy to be magnanimous in victory. In fact the people I’ve met who I found most hostile to the WP tended to be some ex-CPers and formerly People’s Democracy adjacent folk – tnohugh in fairness that latter crew had actually been in the Officials in the 70s.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

Without question they learned. They could see the mistakes that were made by the Officials and clearly prepared to avoid them. I’d actually say that if nothing else, and I believe the WP as I’ve said before played a significant role in softening the cough of governing parties who had to pay at least some attention to the working class in the 1980s so there was a lot more than nothing else, but anyhow, if nothing else that historic role was incredibly important. I remember reading Ciaran McKeon’s (sp?) of the Peace People’s book published years back where he argued that the most important function of the Officials/WP was proving that it was possible to move from armed struggle to political activity – and that in that sense their historical example might well impact on SF. I think he was correct there.

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Colm B - April 20, 2021

Eoin, you can wish all you like, the fact is that this same issue stems right back to the 1980s. As anyone who has read the Lost Revolution knows this dual problem of a military org and a enriched clique has existed in the organisation for decades.

As Gavin’s post makes clear, Group B was no “revolutionary organisation” but rather a tool for making money, some of which may have funded political activities and some of which disappeared into deep pockets. Yet whenever this was raised in the past, WP members either denied it or spoke ambiguously of the need for revolutionary activity. Now, once again, the truth is laid bare by WP members themselves: since the late 1970s Group B has not engaged in any revolutionary activity, i.e. illegal activity to support working class struggle etc. It did defend party members from the Provo and that, in my view, was understandable, but that function became redundant with the ceasefires, if not earlier, so its sole function since then was to engage in criminal activity to raise money. Money which, as Gavin indicates, was not primarily used to fund political activity, but for either personal gain or simply to be reinvested in various business enterprises.

The thing with splits is that a lot of beans are spilt as each side acknowledge hard truths that cast their opponents in a poor light. But having denied these for years, this leaves those who now acknowledge them open to accusations of poor judgement or hypocrisy.

Gavin’s view of SG is not entirely inaccurate, though still has a hint of rose to it, but I respect him for being honest about his, perhaps gullible, view of other veterans. Understandable, given that he was very new to the org and hadn’t dealt with these characters before. I said in a previous post, splits often lead to unexpected developments, and I would hope that that the WP/AC develops in a progressive direction. Perhaps the road from Stalinism to democratic revolutionary socialism is paved with Mea Culpa’s, who cares, what matters is the direction travelled.

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banjoagbeanjoe - April 20, 2021
Eoin O'Mahony - April 20, 2021

Thanks for that Colm. I’ll make sure to read books.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

I don’t think Colm was being condescending – It’s not mischief making to say that for some of us who were involved it’s not entirely surprising to see similar dynamics play out time and again. I’ve seen docs from the two waves who left in the mid to late 1990s (and I’m not talking about the split in 1991/92 though some of those concerns were aired then too though in a different way due to the ideological persuasion of some of those making them being different to later ones) and the same things come up time and again in terms of critiques. All that said – I don’t have or wish to have a vote in what is going on. I’d be very conscious this isn’t my party and I’m not a member and therefore there’s limits on what I should say beyond broader observations. I genuinely appreciate the time you and others have taken to shed some light on all this here over the past two days.

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Colm B - April 20, 2021

And I’ll make sure not to reference the past again…so 20th century of me.

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Colm B - April 20, 2021

Btw, of course you don’t need a lesson in this history because you’ve been round for a fair bit yourself. So you know these things are true.

And looking for insult where there wasn’t any, is a classic way of avoiding the substantive points.

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12. banjoagbeanjoe - April 20, 2021

C’mere. Listen to this. I was in the Workers Party for about 7 years, from 1985 to 1992. Last night in my dream… a meeting… among the attendees, John Lowry and Eilis Ryan.
I need help. Anyone know a good shrink?

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alanmyler - April 20, 2021

LOL Banjo, you do sound like you need a shrink there, clearly there are things that you need to let go of. Mind you if you’ve held onto LUFC in your life for this long the problem may be bigger and more widespread than it first appears. An exorcism perhaps?

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roddy - April 20, 2021

Was Lowry speaking in a working class Belfast accent or the posh version he affected for media interviews?

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13. pettyburgess - April 20, 2021

Presumably there will be a statement from the WP (AC) soon?

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

One would imagine.

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GearóidGaillimh - April 20, 2021
14. roddy - April 20, 2021

WBS,the intense curiosity about the WP from many SF members stems from the fact that many many SF members were involved with the sticks long after the 1970 split.There were large numbers leaving throughout the 70s for instance,some going “independent”,others IRSP,some “Bernadette”,even some CPI.The H block campaign brought all those factions together and then the Adams takeover resulted in a SF that many of those found compatible with their thinking.The old O’Bradaigh SF held no attraction for many (including myself) but the Adams leadership rallied many including many ex sticks to the party.In fact I saw people who I remember from the “old days” turning up at SF meetings as late as the early 2000s.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

Thanks roddy, that’s very useful to know. And it makes a lot of sense. Think I was saying above, the most hostile folk I ever met to the WP were former members of PD who joined SF and had been in the Officials in Derry. They recalled from that period in the Officials a certain person, later a journalist, who came up from Dublin and harangued them for having barricades in the streets (the barricades being due to the danger of BA and loyalist incursions) because this later journalist said it was dividing them from the unionist/loyalist working class. I think – however unfortunate in that context – the barricades were they made solid good sense in ensuring the safety of communities and being lectured by some guy from the South in that sort of a way was over the top.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

BTW I think the Lost Revolution deals with that too, how a fair few left the Officials/SFWP around the time of the hunger strikes precisely because the party set its face so solidly against the demands.

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GearóidGaillimh - April 20, 2021

Ivan Barr would be the most obvious example I can think of who went from the Officials to the Provisionals in the late 1970s/early 80s

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Colm B - April 20, 2021

The H Blocks crisis damaged the WP in two ways:
Because of the total hostility of the party to the hunger strikers and their demand for political status, it drove some members and supporters in the North to abandon the party.

Coming under immense social pressure, it cemented the pariah status of the remaining members/ supporters in the urban working class areas of the North, reinforcing their Millwall-like view of themselves. It also oiled a slide down a slippery slope towards neo-unionism that was already underway, abetted by the dark arts of the Harris faction.

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roddy - April 20, 2021

Ivan Barr for instance who had been head of NICRA left the officials as late as 79 to join SF and brought big numbers with him.Also what is rarely mentioned is that 5 of the 10 hunger strikers were former Officials who left in the mid 70s including Francis Hughes and Thomas McElwee from my own area.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2021

I’m coming up with three who were former Officials, was McElwee a member or an independent Republican prior to joining PIRA?

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15. roddy - April 20, 2021

Hughes ,McElwee,Lynch, O’Hara,Devine.A large swathe in South Derry went Official – Independent – Provisionals

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16. tomasoflatharta - April 25, 2021

This is a good accurate political and organisational summary of the recent Workers’ Party split in Ireland.

Both wings style themselves the Workers’ Party, which is confusing. Monty Python’s fictional Life of Brian starred the People’s Front for the Liberation of Judaea Versus the Judean People’s Liberation Front – or something like that! In Ireland (non-fiction) there was Sinn Féin (Official) versus Sinn Féin (Provisional).

https://www.businesspost.ie/ireland/workers-party-splits-again-with-corkbelfast-faction-vs-dublin-9b2ac3e1?fbclid=IwAR0mgyq2pYBVmNhKgNPwxm79YR7EpAeG1e9prJt4_3kR-kxHtfR72FLIoAQ

“Workers’ Party splits again with Cork/Belfast faction vs Dublin
The party’s sole elected representative has been told he is no longer a member and each group is claiming to be the ‘real’ Workers’ Party
Michael Brennan
Political Editor@obraonain
25th April, 2021

Ted Tynan, a Cork City councillor, was recently told he was no longer a member of the Workers’ Party because he had not paid his registration fees on time. Picture: John Allen
The Workers’ Party is at the centre of another divisive split, with a declaration that its sole elected councillor is no longer a party member.

The party’s origins date back to an ideological split in the republican movement in 1970, but it has split and rebranded several times since.

It has been a declining force in Irish politics since the time when its members included Tomás Mac Giolla, Proinsias De Rossa, Eamon Gilmore, Pat Rabbitte and Catherine Murphy. It had just four candidates in last year’s general election getting 1,195 votes between them.

But it is now divided into two different camps again, one mainly made up of members from Belfast and Cork, while the other camp is largely Dublin-based. Both sides claim to be the “real” Workers’ Party.

Ted Tynan, 78, a Cork City councillor and the only elected Workers’ Party representative, was recently told that he was no longer a member of the party because he had not paid his registration fees on time.

He claimed there was a “clique” in the party that wanted to change its policy on Northern Ireland.

“You’re dealing with a bunch of people who are a wet week in the party, like a couple of years, and they’re talking about flying the nationalist flag,” he said.

Tynan has been a Workers’ Party candidate in eight general election campaigns dating back to 1977. He said the rival group wanted to destroy the party’s “well-established ideological position” on uniting the working classes in a socialist republic. He claimed they wanted to move towards “sectarianism nationalism” and a border poll instead.

“That is grossly insulting to a million Protestants in Northern Ireland, who have very strong beliefs. You unite people at working class level because invariably when the fighting takes place, the working class will kill and the working class will die,” he said.

Tynan was part of a group of around 75 people who held their own virtual conference to elect a new Workers’ Party president. However, another larger group of Workers’ Party members say this conference had no standing and the current party president remains in his post.

Éilis Ryan, a former Workers’ Party councillor said there were people in the party who wanted to dominate it.
This group issued a party statement saying that there is only one organisation rightfully called the Workers’ Party. “That is our organisation, which retains 14 of the 18 árd comhairle members elected at the last party árd fheis,” it said. And it said that it rejected the accusation that it was adopting “nationalist politics”.

Eilish Ryan, a former Workers’ Party councillor on Dublin city council and a current member of the party’s árd comhairle, said there were people in the party who wanted to “dominate it”.

“I think they just decided that it was more important that they were in charge than that the party actually succeed,” she said.

She said that she would not include Ted Tynan in that group because she had “huge respect” for him.

“I suppose he has loyalties to people going back a long time. There’s other people in the background, who have far less respect for democracy and far less interest in building an active and vibrant party than somebody like Ted does,” she said.”

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