|Founder||Seamus Costello and others|
|Founded||8 December 1974|
|Split from||Official Sinn Féin|
392b Falls Road,
Belfast, BT12 6DH,
|Newspaper||The Starry Plough|
Worker's Republic (Belfast)
|Youth wing||Republican Socialist Youth Movement|
|Paramilitary wing||Irish National Liberation Army (1974–present)|
|International affiliation||Irish Republican Socialist Movement|
The Irish Republican Socialist Party or IRSP (Irish: Páirtí Poblachtach Sóisialach na hÉireann) is a republican socialist party active in Ireland. It is often referred to as the "political wing" of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) paramilitary group and claims the legacy of socialist revolutionary James Connolly, who founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party in 1896 and was executed after the Easter Rising of 1916.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party was founded at a meeting on 8 December 1974 in the Spa Hotel in Lucan, near Dublin, by former members of Official Sinn Féin, headed by Seamus Costello. According to the IRSP, 80 people were in attendance. A paramilitary wing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was founded the same day, although its existence was intended to be kept hidden until such a time that the INLA could operate effectively. Costello was elected as the party's first chairperson and the Army's first chief of staff. Together, the IRSP and the INLA were referred to as the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM).
Former Unity MP for Mid-Ulster Bernadette McAliskey served on the executive of the IRSP. She resigned following the failure of a motion to be passed which would have brought the INLA under the control of the IRSP Ard Comhairle (executive committee). This led to the resignation of half the Ard Comhairle, which weakened the party. Tony Gregory, a future Dublin TD, was also a member for a short time. Its poor showing in the 1977 Irish general election, and the assassination of Seamus Costello, weakened the organisation.
Costello had been expelled from the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) following a court-martial, and from Official Sinn Féin on the same basis. Along with other activists, he was dissatisfied with the group's tactics and policies, especially on the issues surrounding the 1972 OIRA ceasefire and his growing belief that the emerging conflict was sectarian.
In 1977, Costello was shot dead in his car by a man armed with a shotgun. His supporters blamed the Official IRA for the killing.
Following meetings between the INLA and OIRA leadership in Dublin, a truce was eventually reached, but in one of the first of the INLA's armed operations, Billy McMillen, commanding officer of the OIRA Belfast Battalion, was murdered by Gerard Steenson. In the following years, the IRSP and INLA saw many of their members, including leading members Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting and Noel Little, killed in attacks from British state forces and loyalist paramilitaries.
Three members of the INLA died in the 1981 Irish hunger strike in HM Prison Maze, also known as Long Kesh: Patsy O'Hara, Kevin Lynch, and Michael Devine.
In 1987, the INLA and its political wing, the IRSP came under attack from the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO), an organisation founded by people who had resigned or been expelled from the INLA. The IPLO's initial aim was to destroy the IRSM and replace it with their organisation. Five members of the INLA and IRSP were killed by the IPLO, including leaders Ta Power and John O'Reilly. The INLA retaliated with several killings of their own. After the INLA killed the IPLO's leader, Gerard Steenson, a truce was reached. Although severely damaged by the IPLO's attacks, the INLA continued to exist. The IPLO, which was heavily involved in drug dealing, was put out of existence by the Provisional IRA in a large scale operation in 1992.
In the 2000s and 2010s, the IRSP has been involved in campaigns and political protests, mainly around Belfast and Derry but also in of parts of the Republic of Ireland as well.
In November 2016, after a number of raids on members of the party's homes, the IRSP issued a warning saying the PSNI were "playing with fire". IRSP's Lower Falls representative Michael Kelly claimed that “British security forces risk bringing serious conflict onto the streets” and said that “The Irish Republican Socialist Party has been in existence for over 40 years, in that time we have never tolerated attacks on our membership from any quarter,” The comments drew criticism from UUP MLA Doug Beattie and SDLP Alex Attwood.
|Election||First Preference Vote||Vote %||Seats|
2 / 523
0 / 572
In 1981, party members Gerry Kelly and Sean Flynn won two seats on the Belfast City Council in a joint campaign with the People's Democracy party. Neither councillor served a full term, with one going on the run after being implicated during the supergrass trials
The IRSP put forward five candidates in Northern Ireland local elections, 2011, its first foray into electoral politics in almost 30 years. They failed to secure any seats. Candidate Paul Gallagher of Strabane missed out on a seat by just a single vote. He was originally elected but after a requested recount by the SDLP his election was overturned.
The IRSP has explained its lack of participation in elections as due to "very limited" resources.
As of 2009, the IRSP stated that their objective of a 32 county socialist republic will only be achieved exclusively through peaceful and political means, and in 2018 they launched the 'Yes For Unity' campaign, to campaign for a Border Poll on Irish Unity. While being republican, the party is also socialist and marxist and supports the establishment of an all-Ireland "Worker's republic".
See also: Physical force Irish republicanism
The IRSP opposes both the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Peace Process, The party supports a 'No First Strike' policy, allowing people to see the perceived failure of the peace process for themselves without taking military actions.
As of 11 October 2009, the INLA has ordered an end to the armed struggle, because unlike during the Troubles, the current political stance in Ulster allows the IRSP to contest fairly in new campaigns and local elections, as mentioned in their 2009 statement. INLA admitted to "faults and grievous errors" in their prosecution of the armed struggle, stating that "innocent people were killed and injured" and offering "as revolutionaries" a "sincere and heartfelt apology".
The IRSP claim the legacy of Connolly and say their policies are of the same tradition of Connolly. The IRSP also see their own modern policies as the "logical development in the twenty-first century of the programme established under Connolly’s leadership by the Irish Socialist Republican Party".
The IRSP supported Brexit and supports the Republic of Ireland leaving the European Union.
The IRSP supports the formation of what it calls the "Broad Front" which would oppose British occupation and imperialism in Ireland. Policies[clarification needed] would include:
The IRSP is in favour of an All-Ireland, democratically controlled, unarmed police force.
The IRSP are not abstentionist in principle but they would support abstentionism in certain situations for tactical reasons.
IRSP believes that the right to a home is a fundamental human right and that the state has a responsibility to deal with homelessness.
The party's policy on abortion is that it should be legalised, available on demand and free of charge.
Party members are often referred to as the "Irps" (pronounced "Erps"). In the late 1970s, Divis Flats in west Belfast became colloquially known as "the planet of the Irps" (a reference to the IRSP and the film Planet of the Apes).
The party is represented in North America by the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America.
Both motions are passed and combined into a single statement: that the IRSP stands in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Connolly.
embracing the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin, we are placing ourselves in line with the most advanced thought of our age and, as a consequence, are in line with the revolutionary tradition passed on by James Connolly
This chapter covers the relatively short process which resulted in the division in the Official Republican Movement resulting in the formation of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM) which consisted of an armed wing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and a political wing, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP)
When we say that we are not an abstentionist party, what we mean by this is that we are not a party, in principle, committed to abstention. But there are circumstances and conditions under which is might be desirable to abstain and if we felt that it was tactically desirable at any particular point in time, in either the North or the South to abstain from Parliament, then we would do so. That would depend, however, on the circumstances existing at that particular point of time. If a situation existed, for instance, where there was a possibility of large scale dissatisfaction, on the part of the people, with either the 26 County parliament or the 6 County parliament then abstention, on our part would be a legitimate tactic. We are not, however, abstentionist in principle