Northern Ireland news

Workers' Party split in 1992 sparks London interest

The disclosures come in declassified files released today by the Public Record Office in Belfast
Éamon Phoenix

A "MOTLEY crew of fraternal delegates from North Korea and Cuba" were among attendees at the Workers' Party's annual conference in Dublin in May 1992.

The British Embassy in in the city was taking a particular interest in that year's bitter split in the party which led to the emergence of Democratic Left under Proinsias de Rossa TD.

In a memo to the Foreign and Colonial Office and the NIO, T Gallagher, a Dublin Embassy official, reported that the Workers' Party had held its annual conference in Dublin on May 22/23 - just three months after six of its seven TDs and 50 per cent of its membership broke away to form a new party, Democratic Left.

He reported, in addition to the international delegates, it was attended "by around 300 people, many from Northern Ireland", and the Cuban Ambassador to London "gave an almost incomprehensible speech about international solidarity and the class struggle".

"There was substantial bitterness and anger at the actions of Proinsias de Rossa and his colleagues in splitting the party," he added.

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Gallagher informed London: "With the changes in Eastern Europe, the Workers' Party is looking increasingly anachronistic with its class-war policy...

"The rhetoric is sounding ever more out of touch. Much time was taken up at the Ard Fheis discussing whether it was a 'Republic Socialist Party' or a 'Socialist Republican Party'.

The party's prospects were poor, he noted, while a Northern Ireland woman, Marian Donnelly, had been elected leader.

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