An Irish Trotskyist Programme for Irish Unity (1948)

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Revolutionary Socialist Party

This leaflet was produced by the Irish Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Socialist Party in 1948. A section of the Cannon-Pablo-Mandel Fourth International, the RSP had adopted the politics of the Workers Party USA, the Shachtman organisation. The “coalition” referred to is the Dublin government formed after the the February 1948 election in the 26 Counties by Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the National Labour Party. It replaced De Valera's Fianna Fail, which had been in office since 1932.


Fine Gael takes hostages

Would Fine Gael, the party of the ranchers, unite with Labour except on a programme of defending business interests? Is Costello [Fine Gael leader], fellow-traveller of the Blueshirts [fascist fringe of Fine Gael in the 1930s], the chosen Taoiseach [prime minister] of Labour?

Would Fine Gael, defender of the Treaty [the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921, which ended the War of Independence], unite with Clann na Poblachta [a splinter from Sinn Fein and the IRA] on a policy of strengthening independence from British power politics? How is it that [James] Dillon [an MP who entered the coalition government as an independent, have split from Fine Gael during World War 2 because he opposed Irish neutrality in the war], arch-enemy of Eire neutrality, partners the Clann na Poblachta leaders in the Cabinet?

Can it be that the spoils of office are of more import to them than the principles on which they stood election? [Sean] McBride [leader of Clann na Poblachta], exploiting the ideas of his following, yesterday led a crusade against Partition. Today he takes orders from Fine Gael, thus restoring faith in "direct action" and the futile methods of the IRA, and proving that Clann na Poblachta was from the start organised on an unprincipled and unrealistic basis.

Whatever the outcome of this shameful Coalition, one thing at least is clear: That, outside the combined struggle of the Northern and Southern working class, partition can be ended only at the cost of secret military entanglements with Britain.

De Valera we have always implacably opposed. He represents capitalism. Yet, compared with Sean McBride, he is a sea-green incorruptible. He is the product of a more serious stage in the nationalist movement.

What of the Labour Party? [William] Norton [leader of the Labour Party from 1932 to 1960] is no Connolly. We did not expect him to embrace revolutionary socialism. Yet he turns his back even on reformism.

Out of office he might, to some little extent, have gained concessions for the workers; as Minister for Social Security he is a hostage in the hands of Fine Gael to ensure the good behaviour of Labour. He has struck a blow against Irish working-class unity, against the development of socialist ideas, and against the growth of the Eire Labour Party. In what way is he superior to [Harry] Midgley [a former leader of the Northern Ireland Labour Party who had resigned to form his own splinter "Commonwealth Labour Party" and then to join the Unionist Party in 1947].

Labour must withdraw from the Coalition! An Emergency Conference of the branches must be called to repudiate the leaders and demand their withdrawal. If on being directed to withdraw, they refuse - expulsion must follow.

Full support must be given to this policy by Northern Ireland Labour. The workers' interests can be defended only against all capitalist parties.

An all-Ireland conference should be called, giving representation and voice to all working-class tendencies, for the formulation of a programme linking the fight against partition with the anti-capitalist struggle:

1. Complete political independence from Britain. Transfer of the Westminster powers to a United Dail.

2. A wide degree of Protestant autonomy in Northern Ireland.

3. Restore all civil liberties. Full religious freedom and tolerance. No clerical intrusion into politics!

4. Solidarity with all peoples oppressed by British imperialism, Russia, or any other power. No secret commitments to Anglo-American imperialism.

5. Workers' Control in industry.

6. Finance housing and full employment at the expense of profits and rents.


Published by: Revolutionary Socialist Party. Secretary: Bob Armstrong, 18 Brookvale Ave, Belfast.


Revolutionary Socialist Party Ireland

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