The Irish Republican Socialist Party was established by Seamus Costello and other Irish revolutionaries in December 1974, at a meeting in the Lucan Spa Hotel, Dublin. The aim of the party founders was to establish a new revolutionary vanguard that would combine the class and national struggles and take up the vision of James Connolly. The party was named in honour of Connolly's Irish Socialist Republican Party. This was to be a genuine party of the working class.
Later that same day Costello presided over the formation of a new republican army, an organisation he hoped to mould as the armed cadre of the working class. This organisation was known firstly be as the National Liberation Front but would soon become known across the world as the Irish National Liberation Army.
Many of the founding members of the IRSM were veteran republicans. Following the 'stickies' slide into counter revolution, whole cumainn resigned on mass to join the new organisation.
Seamus Costello was its driving force. He succeeded in recruiting many of the leading republicans, socialists and trade unionists of the day to its ranks.
The forces of reaction in Ireland soon took note of the emerging IRSP and decided to crush the movement at birth. State repression and counter revolutionary attacks would be unleashed on the new party which stunted its growth, but not its revolutionary message.
Costello himself would be murdered in cold blood by counter revolutionaries in 1977, an event from which the IRSM never really recovered. With the murder of Seamus Costello Ireland lost its greatest revolutionary leader since James Connolly and the struggle for national liberation and socialism was set back for generations.
Much of the founding statement of the IRSP remains as relevant to Irish socialist republicanism today as it was when written almost forty years ago. Within the short statement there are many fundamental truths and a draft guide to action for socialist republicans. Its message should be studied by all genuine Irish revolutionaries today.
For that reason, today we republish the founding statement of the IRSP. We hope it is widely read and studied by modern socialist republicans. We must learn well the lessons of our history so our historic struggle can be carried forward to victory.
IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY
Páirtí Poblachtach Sóisialach na hÉireann PRESS STATEMENT: 13.12.'74.
At a meeting held in Dublin on Sunday, 8.12.'74, a decision was made to form a new political party, to be known as THE IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY. The inaugural meeting was attended by approximately 80 delegates from Belfast, Armagh, Co. Derry, Derry City, Donegal, Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.
It was unanimously agreed that the objective of the Party would be to "END IMPERIALIST RULE IN IRELAND, and ESTABLISH A 32 COUNTY DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC WITH THE WORKING CLASS IN CONTROL OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION AND EXCHANGE".
To this end, it was agreed that the Party would launch a vigorous campaign of political agitation and education, North and South, on the following issues:
1/ Recognising that British Imperialist interference in Ireland constitutes the most immediate obstacle confronting the Irish People in their struggle for democracy, National Liberation and Socialism, it shall be the policy of the Party to seek the formation of a broad front on the basis of the following demands:
A/ That Britain must immediately renounce all claims to Sovereignty over any part of Ireland and its coastal waters, and should immediately specify an early date for the total withdrawal of her military and political presence from Ireland.
B/ Having specified the date for her total withdrawal from Ireland, Britain must immediately withdraw all troops to barracks, release all internees and sentenced political prisoners, grant a general amnesty for all offences arising from the military campaign against British Forces or through involvement in the Civil Disobedience Campaign, abolish all repressive legislation, grant a Bill of Rights which will allow complete freedom of political action and outlaw all discriminination whether it be on the basis of class, creed, political opinion or sex. Britain must also agree to compensate the Irish People for the exploitation which has already occurred.
C/ It shall be the policy of the IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY to seek an active working alliance of all radical forces within the context of the Broad Front in order to ensure the ultimate success of the Irish Working Class in their struggle for Socialism.
D/ It will be an immediate objective of the Party to launch an intensive campaign of opposition to the E.E. membership. We, therefore, intend to play an active part in the E.E.C. referendum in the Six County area and through our support groups in Britain.
E/ Recognising that sectarianism, and the present campaign of sectarian assassinations arises as a direct result of British manipulation of the most reactionary elements of Irish Society, we shall seek to end this campaign on the basis of united action by the Catholic and Protestant working class against British Imperialism in Ireland.
TWENTY SIX COUNTIES
1/ We will seek to have a United Campaign of all democratic forces against repressive legislation in the south, and against the policy of blatant collaboration with British Imperialism, which is now being pursued by the 26 County Administration.
2/ THE IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY is totally opposed to the exploitation of our natural resources by multi-national Corporations. It shall therefore be our policy to give active and sustained support to the present campaign for the nationalisation of these resources.
3/ Recognising that the rapidly increasing cost of living and rising unemployment are to a large extent a direct result of our EEC membership, it shall be the policy of the IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY to actively support the formation of people's organisations to combat rising prices and unemployment.
THE IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY is not an abstentionist Party, and will decide its attitude towards the contesting of any particular election, on the basis of a thorough analysis of the conditions prevailing at the time. In keeping with this attitude we have decided, in principle, to contest the forthcoming Convention Elections in the Six County Area.
As the vast majority of those involved in the formation of the IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY are people who have recently resigned from Sinn Fein (Gardiner Place), we feel it may be necessary to give a brief outline of the reasons for our resignations. They are as follows:
A/ The refusal of the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle to implement the democratically decided policies on the National Question as laid down at the 1972 and 1973 Ard Fheiseanna.
B/ The lack of internal democracy within Sinn Fein. This became particularly noticeable during the course of the past year when many dedicated members were purged from the organisation because they dared to question the reformist approach of the Ard Comhairle on many vital questions. This purge culminated in attempts by members of the Ard Comhairle to intimidate delegates to the recent Ard Fheis, when many of them were threatened with expulsion if they did not vote in accordance with the wishes of the leadership.
C/ the decision of the Ard Comhairle to contest the Six County Assembly Elections, when it was perfectly obvious that the elections were clearly designed to re-establish a British controlled puppet Parliament for the Six Counties. In our view, this particular decision was indicative of the reformist and counter revolutionary attitudes which prevail at Ard Comhairle level in Sinn Fein, Gardiner Place.
D/ The unprincipled betrayal of the internees arising from the decision to take seats on local councils in the North. This decision was made despite the fact that the Ard Comhairle had made repeated statements attacking the treachery of the SDLP for taking their seats.
We are of course aware that the vast majority of rank and file members are completely opposed to this decision. We urge the ordinary members of Sinn Fein to refuse to accept this unprincipled attitude on the part of the Ard Comhairle. We call on all Republican Club Councillors to stand by the Internees by upholding the peoples' pledge which they signed before their election.
E/ The general drift towards almost exclusive participation in reformist activity, and the total abandonment of agitationary political action in pursuit of their objectives. Under its present leadership, Sinn Fein has been reduced to a position of almost total irrelevance in the context of the present poltical situation.
Since last Sunday we have had enquiries from practically every area in the country regarding the formation of branches. During the period since the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, at least 14 Cumainn and two Comhairle Ceantair have resigned in bloc and indicated their intention of forming IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY branches.
We are at present engaged in an intensive recruiting drive, and will organise a full delegate national conference at the earliest possible date. A permanent National Executive will be elected at the Annual Conference.
In conclusion, the IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY extends its support to all peoples struggling for Democracy, National Liberation and Socialism.
In Ireland, we appeal to all of those who are genuinely interested in the establishment of a Socialist Republic to re-examine their present position and give their support to the IRISH REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST PARTY.
Those elected to the Temporary National Executive are as follows:
Sean Flynn (Belfast)
Manuel McIlroy (Belfast)
John McAlea (Belfast)
Charlie Craig (Belfast)
Seamus O'Kane (Co. Derry)
Terry Robson (Derry City)
Joe Sweeney (Derry City)
Bernadette McAliskey (Tyrone)
Johnny White (Donegal)
Seamus Costello (Wicklow)
Theresa Gallagher (Dublin)
Anne Webb (Dublin)
Mick Plunkett (Dublin)
John Lynch (Cork)
Stella Mackowski (Clare)
Joe Quinn (Limerick)
Tony Quinn (Tipperary