Communist Party of Ireland

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Communist Party of Ireland


(CPI), founded in June 1933 at the Inaugural Congress in Dublin as a unified all-Ireland organization including Communists from the north and south of Ireland. Soon after its formation it joined the Comintern. During its first stage the party was guided by the manifesto “Ireland’s Path to Freedom,” adopted by the Inaugural Congress, and it set as its primary goal the struggle for a workers’ and farmers’ republic in Ireland. The CPI’s activity in the southern part of the country was halted in 1940. Party organizations in Northern Ireland took the name Communist Party of Northern Ireland (CPNI). In the south, the Communist Party was reestablished only in 1948 as the Irish Workers’ League (since 1962, the Irish Worker’s Party, the IWP).

Thus, there were two Marxist-Leninist parties functioning in Ireland beginning in 1948. They held congresses (conferences) and had independent press organs and programs. The CPNI’s program, “Ireland’s Path to Socialism,” was adopted by the Eleventh Congress in 1962, and the IWP’s program, “An Independent Ireland,” was adopted by the Fourth National Conference in 1962. The two parties acted independently in the international Communist movement. However, the CPNI and the IWP maintained close contact with each other, on a number of occasions adopting joint resolutions on major questions. They recognized the common nature of the main tasks facing Communists in the north and south, especially the necessity of coordinating the work of the parties in the struggle against British imperialism and against the imperialist partition of the country. The parties acknowledged the common struggle for national independence and the interests of the working people, against the monopolies, and for peace and socialism. Delegations of the CPNI and the IWP attended the international Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties held in Moscow in 1960 and 1969. The parties approved the documents adopted at these conferences.

Between 1968 and 1970, with the rapid growth of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, supported by progressive forces in the south, favorable conditions developed for consolidating the position of Communists and expanding their ties with other democratic organizations. The CPNI and the IWP resolved to unite and reestablish a single Marxist-Leninist party in Ireland (the resolutions of the Extraordinary Conference of the IWP held on Mar. 1, 1970, and of the Fourteenth Congress of the CPNI held on Mar. 13–14, 1970).

On Mar. 15, 1970, in Belfast, the Extraordinary Unity Congress of the CPNI and the IWP adopted an official resolution to merge the CPNI and the IWP into the united Communist Party of Ireland and ratified the rules and manifesto of the CPI. The manifesto proclaimed the ultimate goal of the CPI’s activity to be “the creation of a new Ireland, that is, a free, united, socialist country.” The Fifteenth Congress of the CPI (October 1971) elaborated the party’s tactical line aimed at unifying all democratic forces in the north and south of Ireland, irrespective of religious convictions, in the struggle against British imperialism and for democratic progress and national independence. The congress also adopted new party rules. The Sixteenth Congress of the CPI (March 1975) defined the primary tasks in the Irish working people’s struggle for political and social rights and civil liberties, based on the cohesion of the working-class and democratic movements.

The structure of the CPI adheres to the principles of democratic centralism. It is divided into two regional organizations: the northern (the Communists in the six counties of Northern Ireland) and the southern (the Communists in the 26 counties of the Irish Republic). Each of these organizations holds its own congress once every two years, elects an executive committee, and independently resolves questions that concern its region alone. The highest body of the CPI is the congress, which is convened at least once every three years; it ratifies the program and rules, elects the National Executive Committee, and adopts other resolutions of a political and organizational nature.

The National Chairman of the CPI is A. Barr, and the general secretary is M. O’Riordan. The press organs are the weeklies Unity, Irish Workers Voice, and Irish Socialist and the journal Irish Socialist Review.

E. S. LAGUTIN [12–1597–4; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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