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This document is an useful addition to the range of materials available in the Archive from the Workers’ Party. Dating from the late 1980s and a time of profound change for the party it provides an insight into some of the issues that were of particular importance during that time for the party and the emphasis that was placed upon them.
The Introduction notes:
For many years now we have emphasised the crucial task of developing class consciousness and of the need to expand our activities and build the Party. That we have met with some success in this task is heartening but nevertheless we cannot afford to slacken our efforts. The reactionary right wing forces that dominate our society will not give up their power easily. It is only a united working class led by a class conscious disciplined Party which will achieve our objectives. We have demonstrated to a growing number of the working class the validity and indeed the absolute necessity for the working class to have its own Party. Through our work among the people, in the Local Councils and in the Dáil the Party has consistently demonstrated to these workers the nature of the society in which we live and what is required to change this society. To achieve our objective we need a mass party, history as we know is created and made by the mass of the people, not by some mighty hero or leader. We long ago recognised that without the people on our side we would achieve nothing.
The document notes how the addition of two extra Tds to supplement the two already in the Dáil ‘[has] been of great assistance in enabling the Party to cover a far wider range of matters than was possible with two Tds’ and it notes the ‘exceptional level of commitment and dedication shown by our Tds’. But it also points to the limitations of the parliament as a focus of activity: ‘The Party in the Dáil still works under a considerable disadvantage compared to the other parties. We are the only party in opposition which does not have at least seven Tds, the minimum number required to qualify for recognition as a group, which in turn qualifies a party for time for private members motions, private members bills and priority questions. Despite the number of private members bills and motions listed above we never actually got time to discuss any of them’.
It also notes that the work done in the Dáil was not recognised by members of the public and of the party due to the lack of coverage of the proceedings there.
There are additional sections to the Report on Local Government, Party Finance, and from individual Party Committees. Mention is made of Party member Emmanuel Wilson who was shot dead by the Provisional IRA. Interestingly under the Education section it notes that ‘the growth in party membership in the past year due to the recruitment campaign places a particular response on branches to ensure that there is a continuing process of political education and discussion at branch meetings’.
As a snapshot in the development of the party prior to significant electoral gains the following year it is of considerable use.