Party Profile: Workers’ Party

The Workers Party is a small left-wing party running 5 candidates in the General Election; Cllr Eilis Ryan (Dublin Central), Cllr Ted Tynan (Cork North-Central), Lorraine Hennessy (Dublin Mid-West), Jimmy Dignam (Dublin North-West) and Seamus McDonagh (Meath East).

Originally known as Official Sinn Fein following the 1970 split in Sinn Fein and the IRA, it became Sinn Fein The Workers’ Party in 1977 and eventually just The Workers’ Party in 1982. Although described as far-left and communist, it has become more moderate since the ’80s, moving away from its Soviet leanings. It had a presence in the Dail from 1981 to 1992, winning seats in five consecutive elections, always remaining in opposition and peaking in 1989 with 5% of the vote and 7 TDs. A number of sitting TDs were once members of the Workers’ Party; from Labour – Pat Rabbitte, Eamon Gilmore and Eric Byrne, all former Workers’ TDs, as well as Kathleen Lynch; from the Social Democrats – Catherine Murphy.

The Workers’ Party’s priorities are the housing crisis and water, proposing public investment in affordable social housing and the introduction rent controls, abolition of Irish Water, scrapping of water charges and the holding of a referendum on public ownership of natural resources (relating primarily to the Right2Water and Shell to Sea campaigns).

They also support improvement of and investment in childcare, the health service and education, pushing for a more equal education system and a national health service. These measures would be funded through similar means as those proposed by AAA-PBP; higher progressive & proportional taxation, cuts to direct regressive and indirect taxes such as water charges and property tax, which disproportionately affect lower earners, and increased capital gains tax, and a clamp down on loopholes and corporate tax avoidance.

Socially they are liberal, supporting women’s rights, abortion rights, LGBT rights, same sex marriage, and an end to religious discrimination in education. They also support greater access to higher education for people from less advantaged backgrounds, better job opportunities and a living wage.

Similar to Sinn Fein, Labour and Fianna Fail they have had strong links to the IRA and organised crime, being the political wing of the Official IRA. Since the end of the Troubles this connection is less prevalent, however the OIRA never laid down its arms and still engages in criminal activity.

It has signed up to Right2Change, showing it is willing to work with other left-wing anti-austerity parties, however it has a history of being perceived as an opposition protest party.

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