Socialist Party (Ireland)

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This article is about the party founded in 1996. For the party founded in 1949, see World Socialist Party (Ireland). For the party founded in 1971, see Socialist Party of Ireland (1971).
Socialist Party
Leader Collective Leadership
Founded 1996
Headquarters 141 Thomas Street, Dublin 8, Ireland
Newspaper The Socialist
Youth wing Socialist Youth
Ideology Trotskyism[1]
Democratic socialism
Political position Far-left[2]
International affiliation Committee for a Workers' International
European affiliation European Anticapitalist Left
European Parliament group European United Left–Nordic Green Left
Colours Red, white
Dáil Éireann
2 / 166
(Northern Ireland)
Politics of the Republic of Ireland
Political parties
Politics of Northern Ireland
Political parties

The Socialist Party (Irish: Páirtí Sóisialach) is a socialist political party active in Ireland (both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland). It is a member of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), an alliance of Trotskyist parties. In 2014, it altered its registered name to Stop the Water Tax – Socialist Party,[3] and launched the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA). It currently has two sitting members of Dáil Éireann in the Republic of Ireland, with a third Teachta Dála sitting as a representative of the AAA.[4]


The party was founded in 1972 as a tendency within the Labour Party, grouped around the newsletter Militant Irish Monthly,[5] and duly became known as the Militant tendency, the name by which its co-thinkers in the British Labour Party were also known. Militant organised within the Labour Party throughout the 1970s and 1980s as an entryist group attempting to win the party to socialism. The group briefly controlled Labour Youth from 1983 to 1986. People associated with Militant included John Throne, Clare Daly, Dermot Connolly, Joe Higgins and Finn Geaney.

In the late 1980s, a number of known members of the Militant tendency were expelled from Labour. Considering work in the party to no longer be viable, in 1989 the organisation took an "Open Turn" and established an independent party, adopting the name Militant Labour, also used by other sections of the Committee for a Workers' International at the time. In 1996 the party merged fully with the Labour and Trade Union Group of Northern Ireland and changed its name to the Socialist Party.

Trade union and campaigning[edit]

The Socialist Party is active in the trade union movement, arguing for more militant action in defence of workers' interests. It also holds influence in the Northern Irish branch of the FBU where its members played a key role in encouraging the FBU's split from the British Labour Party in 2004.[citation needed]

The Socialist Party is also involved in many community campaigns, including the Anti Water Charge campaign in 1996 and the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign in 2003–2004. It has been involved in the movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of Palestine and continues to be active in campaigns against fascism, racism, low pay exploitation and religious sectarianism. They advocate and support rights for workers, women, ethnic minorities and members of the LBGT community.

On 19 September 2003, Joe Higgins and Clare Daly were sent to Mountjoy Prison for a month for refusing to abide by a High Court injunction relating to the blockading of bin lorries.[6][7][8][9] This was part of the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign. Other members (along with people from other parties, and non-aligned activists) also went to prison for varying amounts of time for similar reasons. The campaign however was described by the Phoenix Magazine as "an abject failure" which "left many thousands of families across Dublin in financial and legal difficulty, it proved a useful campaign and publicity tool for SP candidates in a number of constituencies"[10]

In 2005 the Socialist Party and in particular Joe Higgins TD and Mick Murphy were involved in highlighting the exploitation of immigrant Turkish construction workers working for the Turkish multinational GAMA on Irish state projects. Workers were being paid as little as €2.20 an hour[11] (minimum wage in Ireland was €7.00) while being forced to work up to 80 hours per week. This led to a strike by immigrant workers in Ireland.[12][13][14] The strike ended, with the workers winning tens of thousand of euros each in unpaid wages and overtime.[15]

Youth wing[edit]

Socialist Youth is the youth wing of the Socialist Party.[citation needed]


Both Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party itself have as key policies the taking of economic power out of the hands of the bankers, speculators and wealthy industrialists and instead transfer that power to working-class people. The Socialist Party stands for public ownership and democratic economic planning of the key areas of economic activity. The Socialist Party describes its ideological influences in these terms: "The Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) bases itself on the ideas of Trotsky as well as those of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and fellow leaders of the Russian Revolution."[16]

In relation to Northern Ireland, the Socialist Party advocate a radical alternative to the status quo. They wish to transcend borders and bring working class unity in Ireland. They argue a capitalist united Ireland would mean continuance of capitalist exploitation of the working class and that capitalism is incapable of overcoming sectarianism. The socialist Ireland that they propose would be a voluntary part of an international socialist federation.[citation needed]

In the 2008 and 2009 referendums on the Treaty of Lisbon, the Socialist Party campaigned for a "no" vote.[17][18] The party called for a referendum on the December 2011 EU deal, and said it would reject the deal in such a vote.[19]

2012 controversies[edit]

In 2012, legal advice was sought over the expense claims of TDs Clare Daly and Joe Higgins,[20] as it emerged their travel expenses may have been used for travel outside their constituencies and journeys to the Dáil.[21] Higgins and Daly were using them for travelling to anti-household charge meetings across the country, outside of their Dublin constituencies.[22] It was subsequently confirmed by the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin that they were entitled to claim travelling expenses for travel outside of their constituencies.[23] The ULA and Socialist Party stated at the time that the story was a "manufactured controversy" and part of a "vindictive smear campaign by Independent Newspapers".[24]

Clare Daly resigned from the Socialist Party on 31 August 2012.[25] In a statement, the Socialist Party said "it believed Ms Daly had resigned because she placed more value on her political connection with Independent TD Mick Wallace than on the political positions and work of the Socialist Party",[26] although this claim has been contested by Daly. The Socialist Party left the United Left Alliance in January 2013.[27]

List of newspapers and publications[edit]

  • The Socialist (formerly Socialist Voice, The Voice, and Militant) – Monthly newspaper
  • Socialist View (formerly Socialism 2000) – Quarterly Theoretical Journal
  • International Socialist VoiceE-Zine
  • Fingal Socialist – Free paper distributed in Northern and Western Dublin
  • Cork Socialist – Free paper distributed in Cork city

List of elected members[edit]

14 local councillors were elected as part of the Anti-Austerity Alliance in 2014.

Election results and governments[edit]

Socialist Party TDs Clare Daly (left) and Joe Higgins (centre), pictured during the Boycott the Household Tax campaign in January 2012

Through campaigning work it has built some electoral support, Joe Higgins first being elected to Dáil Éireann in 1997 and to the European Parliament in 2009 along with five other members elected to local councils in Dublin, Cork and Drogheda. It has found it harder to gain an electoral foothold in Northern Ireland, but it has a minor presence in the trade union movement there plus a youth wing.

In the 1997 election the party returned one TD to Dáil Éireann – Joe Higgins (Dublin West), who became prominent during the Anti-Water Charges Campaign. In the 2002 election, Joe Higgins retained his seat, and in the Dublin North constituency Councillor Clare Daly narrowly missed out on a second seat.

In the 2004 local elections the party gained two council seats, one in South Dublin County Council and another in Cork City Council. They also retained their two previous seats on Fingal County Council. In the European elections held on the same day, Joe Higgins received 23,200 (5.5%) votes in the Dublin constituency, but did not win a seat being eliminated on the 3rd count. In the 2007 Dail election, Joe Higgins failed to retain his seat in the Dublin West constituency.

In the 2009 European and local elections, Joe Higgins took a seat in the Dublin European constituency with 50,510 (12.4%) first preference votes, as well as gaining a seat in the Castleknock local electoral area of Fingal County Council.[29][30] The party held its seats on Fingal and Cork City Council while gaining a seat on Balbriggan Town Council and Drogheda Borough council respectively. The party lost its only councillor on South Dublin County Council.

In the 2011 general election the Socialist Party elected two TDs to Dáil Éireann. Clare Daly was elected for the Dublin North constituency, while Joe Higgins regained his seat in Dublin West. The party contested these elections as part of the United Left Alliance, a political alliance which included the People Before Profit Alliance and the Workers and Unemployed Action Group along with independent activists. The ULA took five seats in total.[31] Higgins's seat in the European Parliament was filled by Paul Murphy.[32] The Socialist Party unsuccessfully contested the 2011 Dublin West by-election, where its candidate Councillor Ruth Coppinger came third.[33]

Its councillors contested the 2014 local elections as part of the Anti-Austerity Alliance.[34]

Dáil Éireann elections[edit]

Election Dáil First Preference Vote Vote % Seats
1997 28th 12,445 0.7%
1 / 166
2002 29th 14,896 0.8%
1 / 166
2007 30th 13,218 0.6%
0 / 166
2011 31st 26,770 1.2%
2 / 166

Northern Ireland Assembly elections[edit]

Election Assembly First Preference Vote Vote % Seats
1998 1st 789 0.1%
0 / 108
2003 2nd 343 0.0%
0 / 108
2007 3rd 473 0.1%
0 / 108
2011 4th 819 0.1%
0 / 108

Local government elections[edit]

Election Country First Preference Vote Vote % Seats
1999 Republic of Ireland 5,312 0.4%
2 / 883
2004 Republic of Ireland 13,494 0.7%
4 / 883
2005 Northern Ireland 828 0.1%
0 / 582
2009 Republic of Ireland 16,052 0.9%
4 / 883
2011 Northern Ireland 682 0.1%
0 / 583
2014 Northern Ireland 272 0.0%
0 / 462
2014 Republic of Ireland Contested the election as part of Anti-Austerity Alliance

European elections[edit]

The Socialist Party has contested European Elections in the Republic of Ireland but not in Northern Ireland..

Election First Preference Vote Vote % Seats
1999 10,619 0.8%
0 / 15
2004 23,218 1.3%
0 / 13
2009 50,510 2.7%
1 / 12
2014 29,953 1.8%
0 / 11

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]. Parties and elections.
  2. ^ Henry Silke (27 May 2014). "Ireland: Left surge in South’s local and European elections". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Socialist Party is changing its name". 11 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Murphy records byelection surprise|
  5. ^
  6. ^ Cunningham, Grainne and Dowling, Brian. "Outrage over jailed TD's 'grandstand' bin protest". Irish Independent. 20 September 2003.
  7. ^ "Jail sentences for Joe Higgins and Clare Daly". 19 September 2003.
  8. ^ Cunningham, Grainne. "Jail will not break mass opposition, vow campaigners". Irish Independent. 20 September 2003.
  9. ^ Reilly, Jerome. "Far left pulling the strings on bin charge campaign". Sunday Independent. 19 October 2003.
  10. ^ "Young Bloods: Ruth Coppinger". The Phoenix. 19 October. p. 17. Retrieved 16 October 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ "Gama says Martin had no right to investigate". RTÉ News. 19 April 2005.
  12. ^ Wescott, Gareth. "Hundreds of foreign workers take to streets over low pay". Irish Independent. 5 April 2005.
  13. ^ "Five-hour protest by Gama staff in Galway". RTÉ News. 5 April 2005.
  14. ^ McDonald, Brian. "Martin takes action as Gama sends workers back to Turkey". Irish Independent. 6 April 2005.
  15. ^ "Higgins reacts to Lenihan 'kebabs' remark". RTÉ News. 18 May 2005.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Left-wing groups launch anti-Lisbon campaign". The Belfast Telegraph. 18 August 2009.
  18. ^ Brennan, Michael. "Voting watchdog vows to clean up Lisbon debate". Irish Independent. 14 May 2008.
  19. ^ "Socialists call for referendum on EU deal". RTÉ News. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "Legal advice sought on TD expenses claims". 4 July 2012. 
  21. ^ O'Connor, Niall (3 July 2012). "Pressure mounts on technical group in expenses fiasco". Evening Herald. 
  22. ^ Expenses not for TD's to travel to protests – Leinster House by Michael Brennan, Irish Independent, Wednesday 4 July 2012
  23. ^ Higgins entitled to rally expenses By Harry McGee, Irish Times, Saturday 20 October 2012
  24. ^ Press Statement: Manufactured Dail travel expenses controversy will not divert from fight against unjust home taxes Monday 2 July 2012
  25. ^ "Clare Daly resigns from the Socialist Party". RTÉ News. 1 September 2012. 
  26. ^ "Daly resigns from Socialist Party". The Irish Times. 1 September 2012. 
  27. ^ "Socialist Party withdraws from United Left Alliance". 26 January 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  28. ^ "Joe Higgins". Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  29. ^ Guider, Ian. "Ireland’s Cowen Faces No-Confidence Vote After Poll". Bloomberg. 8 June 2009.
  30. ^ "Fianna Fáil humiliated in Dublin". 8 June 2009.
  31. ^ Minihan, Mary. "Higgins pledges to build new party of left as five elected under ULA banner". The Irish Times. 28 February 2011.
  32. ^ "Murphy to replace Higgins as MEP". The Irish Times. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 
  33. ^ Cullen, Paul. "Socialists target Government's political agenda". The Irish Times. 6 October 2011.
  34. ^ "Anti-Austerity Alliance launches election campaign". RTÉ News. 20 February 2014. 

External links[edit]