Communist Party of Northern Ireland
The Communist Party of Northern Ireland was a small communist party operating in Northern Ireland. Its origins lay in the 1941 split in the Communist Party of Ireland, which also produced the Irish Workers' Party in the Republic of Ireland. While the reasons for this split remain unclear, operational difficulties during World War II including Ireland's neutrality and the possibility of orders from Moscow remain the primary suspects - certainly, the split did not garner any reproach from the Comintern. It also enabled the CPNI to recruit extensively in the Protestant working class.
In July 1941 the Communist Party of Ireland National Executive suspended independent activities and its membership were encouraged to undertake entrism and join the Irish Labour Party, and trade union movement, the Irish Labour Party was not organised in the North of Ireland and in October the Communist Party of Northern Ireland published its manifesto.
The CPNI stood their own candidates in the 1945 Northern Ireland general election. While they did not come close to winning any seats, they polled a respectable 12,000 votes for their three candidates, who retained their deposits.
The CPNI was unable to use any momentum from their election result and declined in the following decades. Nonetheless it had a massive influence over left politics in Northern Ireland controlling the trade unions (as the British Labour Party was absent) and trying to politicise the IRA. Its highpoint was the civil rights association (NICRA) of the late 1960s which it effectively controlled, if only bureaucratically. It ultimately became the junior partner in a merger with the Irish Workers' Party, which was once again acting as an independent organisation, which in 1970 became the Communist Party of Ireland.
The CPNI published following its creation in 1941 the newspaper The Red Hand, it also published on and off the weekly newspaper Unity, which following the merger in 1970, is the weekly publication of the Belfast District of the Communist Party of Ireland.
- 1941: Sean Murray
- 1942-46: William H. McCullough
- 1963: Hugh Moore
- The Communist Party of Ireland A Critical History, Part 3 by DR O'Connor Lysaght, 1976.