Political Programme

“To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils and to assert the independence of my country – these were my objectives. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter – these were my means.” – Theobald Wolfe Tone 

Ireland is at a political crossroads. Real change – political, social, cultural and even constitutional – is now firmly on the agenda. But there is no certainty that this change will be realised. It can go two ways: the reactionary forces, North and South, are still firmly entrenched in the organs of power, while the organised working class – in its trade unions, community associations and one-issue campaigns – looks on as an observer rather than being organisationally involved. 

Nor does Ireland exist in a vacuum. With capitalism still dominant in the world at large, with greed for profit trumping all other objectives, the world continues to hurtle to environmental catastrophe. This is a problem which the market cannot solve, as it requires putting the interests of humanity as a whole above the profits of investors, and working harmoniously together to effect change that will reverse environmental damage. 

It is clear from the parlous state of our country, North and South, that the market cannot lead us forward. We need the state to take the decisive role: We argue for the taking of key industries into public ownership, and for the state to play a leading role in economic development, for social equality and for stable employment for all. 

For this to happen, we need to democratise the state itself: in other words, involve the people’s own organisations in the running of society and for state institutions to be answerable to them. 

And central to building this independent voice and to the interests of the working class is the elimination of discrimination and inequality, of racism and sectarianism; and, above all, the elimination of the continued second-class status of women. Women’s liberation from the inherited patriarchal misogyny of the past remains a priority in the fight for equality and social solidarity. 

Women have made significant advances in recent decades, but, as the continued horrors of domestic violence and the killing of women shows, there is still a lot to be done to counter the denigration of women. The all-Ireland campaign for a Women’s Right to Choose won significant gains but the demand has still not been fully met. For communists, this work is of paramount importance. But it is women themselves who will lead this fight, building on the right of women to work in the economic sphere and extending that to all spheres of social life. 

Educating young men and boys about the principles of equality and of consent are also central to this struggle. 

At the present time, too, debate is swelling about the form Ireland in the future will take, despite the efforts of the Unionist parties to hold people back to the old sectarian way of looking at things. It is no easy task to challenge this sectarian mindset, but it is crucial that a new Ireland will not just be a change in the colour of post boxes or the flag on public buildings. 

A new Ireland must keep positive achievements, such as the principle of a national health service. But, this needs to be expanded, so that there is popular involvement and control over how services are delivered. Communists aim to give power over this, and all aspects of their lives, to the working people. 

Coupled with this, as part, too, of the progress towards a new Ireland, we are committed to fighting for genuine secularism in the management of our education and health services, and a recognition that religious institutions should not control these vital aspects of people’s lives. We are committed to the mobilisation of progressive social forces, both religious and non-religious, as part of a democratic struggle to establish such integrated public services. 

The Irish Communist Party asserts that reunification is not the end of the national question. Unity without real independence is of little value. We reject all imperialist domination over Ireland, from Britain or from the EU. 

On the global stage Irish communists call for a reaffirmation of neutrality, including using that status to work for peace rather than an intensification of conflict. We reject any involvement of Ireland in the EU’s proposed European Army, and call for the disbandment of NATO and for a continent-wide conference on security for all states. We fight for peace not war. 

Winning Irish unity, if the power of decision lies in outside forces such as the European Union is merely a change in the colour of the paint. Real independence is one in which Catholic and Protestant workers, and those of no faith or other faiths, can jointly decide their future on the basis of full equality. 

This makes it essential that the need for security among the Protestant population of the North be addressed, so that the working-class traditions of industrial trade unionism within that community can be harnessed behind the building of a new Ireland and not left as a repository of the old imperialist order. 

And to build a socially just Ireland, that meets the needs of the majority of the people before the profits of the few, will entail standing up to the European Union which has the primacy of the Market written into its very constitution. 

State support for industries and employment where it is needed, state intervention on housing, health and education, state advancement of our cultural and linguistic inheritances – including the Irish language – all run counter to the EU rules of free market competition. 

Given the speculative activities of finance capital we call for public control of the banking system and for public sector investment banks to direct economic activity towards public goods and investments. 

This is critical in terms of the real prospects of a government being formed in the South that proposes to tackle the inequalities and injustices that keep many poor while a few grow rich. 

Undoubtedly, such a government will come under severe pressure to compromise with the old order, from the media and from the international political forces that will oppose any steps towards a socialist Ireland. 

This pressure cannot be overcome by declarations, however sincere or determined. It needs the active support of the working class: not just in the ballot box, but in the involvement of trade unions, community associations and other organizations of the working people in support of progressive change, and to supply the pressure that will enable a progressive government to withstand the assaults of the old order. 

The Irish Communist Party commits itself to fight for this involvement, and to do so with all who share that objective. Whatever differences exist with other left parties, let these differences be debated harmoniously allowing us all to contribute to the strengthening of left pressure in the years to come. 

Reforms which advance the rights and power of the working class should not be construed as the end purpose of our fight. In this regard, social democracy throughout Europe has failed the working class, and has in consequence been electorally deserted by that class. Our purpose as part of the working class is to bring it directly into active political engagement, for the interests of that class. 

Therefore, we set out the following as priorities for our work: 

  • To ensure debate about Ireland’s future is guided by the needs of the working class in terms of the social character of our country, and to work to place that class in the decision-making role as regards the future. 
  • To carry the debate about change into the existing organizations of the working people, so as to maximize working-class influence on any new government; 
  • To campaign against climate change, by fighting for measures, outside the parameters of capitalism’s needs, that will protect working people from carrying the major share of the costs of the action that is needed. Thus, a carbon tax is only acceptable when real alternatives for heating homes, producing food and traveling to work have been developed; and the development of such alternatives must be a priority of environmental action. 
  • Asserting the centrality of the liberation of women from patriarchy, endorsing women to work together autonomously. As Connolly put it there are “none so fit to break the chains, as they who wear them”. 
  • To fight against sectarianism and the divisions of our people, including asserting that the Irish language is part of the shared inheritance of all. Indigenous linguistic traditions have a democratic right to be protected and advanced, and the communities which identifiably speak them supported and encouraged. 
  • To expose the unfettered exploitative character of the EU, to recognise it as a major obstacle to any progressive advance, to fight against further consolidation of that Union as an imperialist force with its own army and trade-rigged exploitation. 
  • We reject NATO and any Irish involvement in it, and call for the dissolution of this war-promoting bloc. 
  • To campaign for a Socialist United Ireland on the basis of Independence – from the EU as well as from Britain and the United States. 

We are guided by James Connolly’s ideas and the revolutionary worldview of Marxism-Leninism.