Democratic Socialist Party (Ireland)

The Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) was a small left-wing political party in the Republic of Ireland. The party was formed by a merger of Jim Kemmy's Limerick Socialist Organisation and the Socialist Party of Ireland.[1] Jim Kemmy was an Irish politician and member of Dáil Éireann. He left the Labour Party in 1972.[2] A number of members of the British and Irish Communist Organisation also joined the party.[citation needed]

Democratic Socialist Party

An Páirtí Sóisialach Daonlathach
Founder and leaderJim Kemmy
Merger ofLimerick Socialist Organisation
Socialist Party of Ireland
Merged intoLabour Party
IdeologyDemocratic socialism
Political positionLeft-wing

The party had a political stance to the left of the Labour Party, and was strongly opposed to nationalist positions regarding Northern Ireland. Journalist Brian Trench claimed the DSP shared "the anti-republicanism and economism" of the 1980s Workers' Party, despite disagreeing with the WP on other issues.[3] In 1983 the party made submissions to the New Ireland Forum reflecting its non-nationalist position. It also held a strongly secularist position, opposing the influence of the Catholic Church on issues such as contraception, divorce and abortion.

The party never held any Dáil seats other than Kemmy's seat in Limerick East. Outside of Limerick City its membership was very small, although its positions on Northern Ireland and the Catholic Church attracted members of the British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO) to it. In 1982, the Socialist Party of Ireland joined.

It merged with the Labour Party in 1990. Many of the BICO members in the party later joined the Democratic Left when that party was established in 1992.

A number of former members became successful electorally with the Labour Party such as Limerick TD Jan O'Sullivan, Dublin TD Michael Conaghan who was Lord Mayor of Dublin in 2004 and TD Eamonn Maloney. The historian John de Courcy Ireland was also a member of the party and a candidate in the 1984 European elections.[4]

List of the DSP electoral candidatesEdit

Election Candidate Constituency 1st Pref. votes %
February 1982 general election Jim Kemmy Limerick East 6,502 13.7
1982 Dublin West by-election Michael Conaghan Dublin West 667 1.6
November 1982 general election
Garry O'Sullivan Cork South-Central 369 0.8
Philip O'Connor Dublin North-Central 224 0.6
Séamus Rattigan Dublin South-Central 303 0.7
Denis O'Connor Dublin South 479 0.9
Michael Conaghan Dublin West 476 1.0
John de Courcy Ireland Dún Laoghaire 1,036 2.1
Jim Kemmy Limerick East 4,125 8.7
1984 European Parliament election John de Courcy Ireland Dublin 5,350 1.9
1987 general election
Philip O'Connor Dublin North-Central 681 1.6
Eamonn Maloney Dublin South-West 223 0.5
Michael Conaghan Dublin West 600 1.2
Jim Kemmy Limerick East 5,920 11.9
1989 general election
Michael Conaghan Dublin West 668 1.4
Jim Kemmy Limerick East 9,168 19.8

General election resultsEdit

Election Seats won ± Position First Pref votes % Government Leader
1982 (Nov)
0 / 166
  None 7,012 0.4% No Seats Jim Kemmy
1 / 166
 1  6th 7,424 0.4% Opposition Jim Kemmy
1 / 166
   6th 9,836 0.6% Opposition Jim Kemmy


  1. ^ Peter Barberis; John McHugh; Mike Tyldesley; Helen Pendry (2000). Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th Century. A&C Black. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-8264-5814-8.
  2. ^ The Dynamics of Irish Politics by Paul Bew, Ellen Hazelkorn, Henry Patterson, (1989).
  3. ^ "Radical Fragments in a Southern Wilderness", Brian Trench, Fortnight Magazine, no. 196 (Jul/Aug),1983 pp. 5–6.
  4. ^ John de Courcy Ireland Elections Ireland website