Irish Socialist Republican Party

The Irish Socialist Republican Party was a small, but pivotal Irish political party founded in 1896 by James Connolly. Its aim was to establish an Irish workers' republic. The party split in 1904 following months of internal political rows.

Irish Socialist Republican Party
LeaderJames Connolly
FoundedMay 1896[1]
Preceded byDublin Socialist Club
Succeeded bySocialist Party of Ireland (1904)
Irish republicanism
Political positionLeft-wing

History edit

The party was small throughout its existence. According to the ISRP historian Lynch, the party never had more than 80 active members. Upon its founding one journalist commented that the party had more syllables than members.[2] The party emerged out of the Dublin Socialist Club when a motion was put forward at Pierce Ryan's pub on Thomas Street, Dublin to form a party. Connolly and six others were present at inaugural meeting.[3]

Nevertheless, the ISRP is regarded by many Irish historians as a party of seminal importance in the early history of Irish socialism and republicanism. It is often described as the first socialist and republican party in Ireland, and the first organisation to espouse the ideology of socialist republicanism on the island. During its lifespan it only had one really active branch, the Dublin one. There were several attempts to create branches in Cork, Belfast, Limerick, Naas, and even in northern England but they never came to much.[4] The party established links with feminist and revolutionary Maud Gonne who approved of the party.[5]

The party produced the first regular socialist paper in Ireland, the Workers' Republic, ran candidates in local elections, represented Ireland at the Second International, and agitated over issues such as the Boer War and the 1798 commemorations. Politically the ISRP was before its time, putting the call for an independent "Republic" at the centre of its propaganda before Sinn Féin or others had done so.

A public meeting held by the party is described in Irish socialist playwright Sean O'Casey's autobiography Drums under the Window.

Connolly who was the full-time paid organiser for the party subsequently left Ireland for the United States in 1903 following internal conflict; in fact it seems to have been a combination of the petty infighting and his own poverty that caused Connolly to abandon Ireland (he returned in 1910). Connolly had clashed with the party's other leading light, E. W. Stewart, over trade union and electoral strategy. A small number of members around Stewart established an anti-Connolly micro organisation called the Irish Socialist Labour Party. In 1904, this merged with the remains of the ISRP to form the Socialist Party of Ireland.[6]

References edit

  1. ^ James Connolly (1902). "Taken Root!".
  2. ^ 16 Lives: James Connolly. p. 55.
  3. ^ Irish socialist republicanism, 1909–36 by Adrian Grant page 19
  4. ^ Radical Politics in Modern Ireland- A History of the Irish Socialist Republican Party 1896-1904 (Irish Academic Press), David Lynch,
  5. ^ 16 Lives:James Connolly. pp. 65–66.
  6. ^ Peter Barberis et al, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, p.251

Further reading edit

  • David Lynch, Radical Politics in Modern Ireland: A History of the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP) 1896-1904, (Dublin: Irish Academic Press 2005) ISBN 0-7165-3356-1
  • Mike Milotte, Communism in Modern Ireland: The Pursuit of the Workers' Republic since 1916, (Dublin 1984)
  • Charles Townshend, Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion (London 2006)
  • Charles Townshend, The Republic: The Fight For Irish Independence (London 2013)
  • Dictionary of Irish Biography (Dublin 2007)

External links edit