Independent Socialist, May 1978
Organisation: Independent Socialist Party
Publication: Independent Socialist
Issue:May 1978
Type:Publication Issue
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: International Workers' Day

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

25th September 2009

We don’t know if there were any more issues, how long it ran for, nor do we know who wrote for it, as none of the articles are by-lined.

As far as the Independent Socialist Party goes, prety much all we know is from John Goodwillie’s article in Gralton, 1983, and from Wikipedia. ,mm ,


Independent Socialist Party – formed c.1976 as a replacement for the Irish Committee for a Socialist Programme. Known for the membership of Bernadette McAliskey it was never more then a small group and ceased to function around 1978.


The Independent Socialist Party was a far left political party in Ireland. It was founded in 1976 as a split from the Irish Republican Socialist Party named the Irish Committee for a Socialist Programme, calling for more prominent socialist politics and less emphasis on paramilitary activity. The following year, it renamed itself the “Independent Socialist Party” and was joined by former UK Member of Parliament Bernadette McAliskey.

The party entered discussions with the Socialist Workers’ Movement (SWM), with the aim of forming a joint organisation, but the SWM chose instead to join the Socialist Labour Party in 1978. As a result, the Independent Socialist Party decided to disband.

Just flicking through the document it is concerned with Post Office and Aer Lingus strikes in the South, an RUC/British Army raid on Provisional Sinn Féin offices in the North (“We declare our unconditional solidarity [with PSF] as they bear the brunt of determined repression by British forces in the North”).

There is an article in the Independent Socialist which asks:

Are we Republicans? No, not in the sense of traditional republicanism. We are struggling for the establishment of a WORKERS state in each and every country ie: a state in which the ownership and control of production is in the hands of the working class, organised as one in the interests of all. Only by organising in the factories, the communities and local areas can workers gain control of every aspect of their own lives. …

The ISP is not only asking awkward questions, fighting for workers’ rights defending gains made over a hundred years and more of struggle, but also seeking and finding answers as to why problems exist – organising not only to protect our class against the onslaught of the system but to overthrow the system of Capitalism, to trasnform society, to establish our own system, the working class system, SOCIALISM.

So, the obvious questions ensue. How large was the ISP membership, did it hold Annual Conferences, Ard Fheiseanna, do people know if it generated a defined set of policies/documents, did it have any elected representatives at any point and so forth?

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  • By: Conor McCabe Tue, 29 Sep 2009 14:24:30

    Both. I have an Olympus WS-110 for digital, and a Sony portable tape recorder as well. I use both during the interview. When I finish the interview, I burn the digital recording as CDs, so that each interview is archived as MP3, CD, and audio cassette tape. I reckon that the CD and audio tape are for the archive, and that students and researchers can work off the MP3s. I haven’t transcribed, nor do I intend to transcribe. Hopefully that can be done either by the archive, or by securing funding in future years. The main thing is to record and archive, and worry about transcription later on.

    not all the recordings are for the archive, though. I’m working on an oral history of Edenmore housing estate on Dublin’s Northside, and I’m due to present a paper on what I’ve done so far at the Economic and Social History Society’s annual conference in Belfast in November. Just trying to put Irish working class studies on the map, that’s all.

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 29 Sep 2009 14:52:48

    Thanks Conor. Just curious given how fast technology is moving. I can’t think the last time I saw tapes for sale which is why I was asking.

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  • By: Conor McCabe Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:04:06

    Argos has them, as does TESCO, and Easons. But apart from that, they’re not the asiest things to find. Took me three shops in Cork recently to find them, and when I did, the shop assistant has to ask ME how much they cost!

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:07:37

    Hilarious. They had to pay you right?

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  • By: Conor McCabe Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:16:38


    Naah I told them what I usually pay in Easons: €4 for 3.

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:28:00

    Honesty. Downfall of the left. With the exchange rate being what it is, that sounds dear enough. Important work though Conor. I’m sure people will be grateful for it in years to come.

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  • By: Conor McCabe Tue, 29 Sep 2009 15:58:09

    Actually, Garibaldy, maybe you could help me? I’d love to start recording community and trade union activists who are/were members of the workers’ Party. Again, this isn’t for a book, it’s archival, and for me the focus would be on community activism (32 Co. as well). I could send you on the details of the project, who’s involved, and where the archive will be stored. I don’t have your email address, but mine is:

    AT = @

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 29 Sep 2009 16:04:00

    Conor my address is garibaldy2 AT Send the stuff on and I’ll gladly see what I can do.

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  • By: EamonnCork Wed, 30 Sep 2009 07:58:51

    In reply to Conor McCabe.

    Conor, thanks. That’s great because I’ve seen that pamphlet referenced elsewhere.

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  • By: Gerry Ruddy Fri, 02 Oct 2009 13:52:21

    In reply to Brian Hanley.

    Just caught up with this discussion. Johnny White was indeed heavily involved in the ISP and set up the Five Eights Bookshop in Dublin and produced a number of editions of the Five-Eights newsletter. It was the IRSP that eventually negotiated his return to his native Derry City where he spent the remaining years of his life. He identified with the IRSP The ISP evolved out of the irish Committee For A Socialist Programme and had a wide range of members. As I remember we had three key areas of work, economic, women and democratic rights. I was on the democratic section as was Bernadette and we pushed for a united front on the issue of the dirty protest if my recollection is correct. We ran, or rather Jim McCorry, ran a resource centre on Broadway in Belfast. A lot of good work was done but a number of issues including the prison protests and the usually left arguments led to its demise. I have many documents from the time up in my roof space. Maybe comrades the technocrats can help me make them available?

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  • By: Conor McCabe Fri, 02 Oct 2009 14:17:41

    In reply to Gerry Ruddy.

    That’s great Gerry. I’d love to help you make them available. WBS has the scanner, but I can meet you and pick up the documents, and then pass them on. I’m based in Dublin but I can meet up with you where you live. could you email me and we can arrange the details? My email address is:

    AT = @

    thanks again.

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  • By: Garibaldy Fri, 02 Oct 2009 14:25:09

    In reply to Gerry Ruddy.


    Sorry I haven’t had the chance to email you back. It looks great. I think it will get a positive response, and I’ll pass it along formally once Lisbon is out of the way, and Seán’s court appearance frees people up a bit.

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  • By: Conor McCabe Fri, 02 Oct 2009 14:32:10

    In reply to Gerry Ruddy.

    That’s great Garibaldy. I know it’s a busy time for the WP, but there’s no time frame on this project as it’s pretty much myself and Maura Cronin anyway! Any time people are free, i’m more than happy to meet them. cheers.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Fri, 02 Oct 2009 14:39:03

    In reply to Gerry Ruddy.

    As Conor said, glad to help out.

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  • By: Starkadder Sun, 15 Nov 2009 19:41:14

    In reply to EamonnCork.

    Left-wing bookshops in Cork aren’t doing so well since
    Barracka Books closed. The Sinn Fein shop on Barrack Street
    occaisonally carries some Non-Shinner stuff,such as back
    issues of Red Banner. Some Saturdays the Socialist Party
    hold a stall selling copies of “The Socialist” and “Socialist
    View” as well. You can get some old SWP stuff in Vibes & Scribes
    in Bridge Street .

    Anyone remember the parties hawking their mags outside
    the GPO in Dublin? It was Long before my time!

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  • By: “JOIN The Independent Socialist Party” Leaflet -Circa 1976 « Irish Election Literature Blog Mon, 08 Feb 2010 15:59:15

    […] You will also find some more information here. […]

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  • By: irishelectionliterature Sat, 15 May 2010 08:49:42

    I’ve a leaflet from 1982 for an ‘Independent Socialist’ Tony Clarke up on the site.
    I gather some members of the Independent Socialist Party after the parties demise, later stood as Independent Socialists.
    Any idea if Tony Clarke was one of them?

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  • By: Left Archive: The Independent Socialist Party: An Introduction, Independent Socialist Party (Ireland), January 1977 « The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 14 Jan 2013 04:58:02

    […] document – produced by the Independent Socialist Party, [and see here] is very rare and provides an insight into one of the shortest lived left political parties in […]

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  • By: The intellectual life of the Irish working class… reprise | The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 22 Jul 2013 15:37:00

    […] This is a fascinating thread from the CLR in 2009. Particularly to read and reconsider after five years or so. Work on the intellectual life of the Irish working classes is long, long overdue. […]

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  • By: Left Archive: The Irish Left – For Revolutionary Regroupment – Independent Socialist Party c. late 1970s | The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 05 Aug 2013 17:05:53

    […] is an useful document published by the ISP [of which more see here] in the late 1970’s. It seeks to argue the case for a revolutionary regroupment of the Irish left […]

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