Oráid an Uachtaráin Presidential Address, Tomás Mac Giolla TD, Árd Fheis Annual Conference, 1986
Organisation: The Workers' Party
Author:Tomás MacGiolla
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document

Please note:  The Irish Left Archive is provided as a non-commercial historical resource, open to all, and has reproduced this document as an accessible digital reference. Copyright remains with its original authors. If used on other sites, we would appreciate a link back and reference to The Irish Left Archive, in addition to the original creators. For re-publication, commercial, or other uses, please contact the original owners. If documents provided to The Irish Left Archive have been created for or added to other online archives, please inform us so sources can be credited.

Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

17th April 2023

Many thanks to the person who forwarded this document.

This document issued by the Workers’ Party in 1986, and containing the Presidential Address by Tomás Mac Giolla to the Árd Fheis, is of particular interest for a number of reasons. In his speech he references the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the party response to that, other aspects of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and RTÉ coverage of the Workers’ party.

For example:

I had expected attacks like this from the right wing press and their Provo fellow-travellers who like to whitewash the Provos by lashing in to the Workers’ Party, but being a very naive sort of person I thought our national television station would be above that and would at least uphold certain standards of professionalism and integrity. But I had forgotten that Tanaiste Dick Spring directly intervened in RTE last summer and threatened to change Labour Party policy towards public service broadcasting unless things were done his way. It was then this programme was born.

He has harsh words in the following:

I must seriously question John Hume’s commitment to peace. He is of course against being involved in violence himself bu l he i quite prepared to allow a situation develop where others are involved in violent activity while he sits by to grab the political power. He is quite happy to see the Protestant people in turmoil…


All our of worst fears and reservations in regard to the Anglo-Irish Agreement are now coming to pass. …Are the Taoiseach and Peter Barry prepared to sit back and allow John Hume’s scenario unfold with all the death and misery it could bring? It is time they acted. It is time they forced John Hume to act -to open discussions on devolution of government and on a political road to peace rather than con­frontation. Why not suspend the Inter Governmental Conference for a few months? Or if they prefer the term, let-them go into recess as the Dail does. This would immediately open the door to dialogue. If the Taoiseach doesn’t take such action, and take it rapidly, then we can only assume he does not want to halt the inevitable slide to anarchy and slaughter.

Interestingly his address quotes a speech he gave in 1976 to the Official Sinn Féin Árd Fheis:

0ur repeated call has been for peace. It is the most revolutionary demand at this time. We want peace that will lift, in the North, the daily burden of British, Loyalist and Provisional terror that has been loaded on top of the daily burden of wage robbery. Peace that will give the Catholic worker a pause and a chance to identify the parasites that feed on him. Peace that will allow the Protestant worker a pause to identify the real causes of his present misery. Peace, not in the woolly hope that Protestant and Catholic will come together by supernatural dispensation. Peace, not in the sick fantasies of the ultra-left, where the Protestant is to be beaten by Nationalists on a Monday and told to behave like a Sqcialist by the same people on a Tuesday. The peace they need and the peace they want and the peace our Party is now committed to giving them is the peace to think and plan how to lift the burden of bigotry, sectarianism and terror, both of the Catholic and Protestant middle class, once and for all from their backs. We want a peace that removes the British jackboot, the Hibernian gunman and the Orange bomber, so that all our people can join in the struggle for the re-conquest of Ireland • from the Bankers the Profiteers and the ecxpoiters… that is the National Question which faces us.

More from The Workers' Party

The Workers' Party in the archive


No Comments yet.

Add a Comment

Formatting Help

Comments can be formatted in Markdown format . Use the toolbar to apply the correct syntax to your comment. The basic formats are:

**Bold text**
Bold text

_Italic text_
Italic text

[A link](http://www.example.com)
A link

You can join this discussion on The Cedar Lounge Revolution

  • By: jc Mon, 17 Apr 2023 14:32:24

    Extraordinary how wrong his analysis of northern constitutional politics appears a generation later.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 17 Apr 2023 15:18:42

    In reply to jc.

    Completely agree. I think he was trapped in a worldview shaped by the history of the WP (previously OSF). I had been in the party a fair length of time at that point and what’s amazing to me now is how essentially uniform the attitudes were. It’s the old thing, despite their own ability to change they had no capacity to appreciate others might change as well. Everything was fixed. I think there was also a pernicious thing of a number of highly influential people who also structured the framing in such a way as to prevent any sense or capacity or appreciation of that developing. Provo-trots was a brilliant way to shut down any analytical thinking. But for a party that was meant to be analytical in retrospect it seems near unbelievable they wouldn’t see the world in slightly more shades of complexity than that.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Fergal Mon, 17 Apr 2023 15:26:32

    In reply to jc.

    But he was right about class being the central question… the true ‘national’ question …
    Even those who fought a 25 year war for the other national question have given up on it …and ultimately what was it all for? It delayed unity by at least a generation or two… Brexit has breathed life into unity … a contingent factor if ever there was one.
    Wrong on blaming the middle class for sectarianism in the working class… unless he meant the ruling class. Working class vices don’t trump middle class virtues
    Wrong on Hume but right to believe in a sectarian free class-based politics
    Ultimately right on consent … Good Friday Agreement
    Wrong to end up basically as a unionist party unable or unwilling to criticise injustices in the north

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 17 Apr 2023 16:27:18

    In reply to Fergal.

    Yeah that’s a fair assessment Fergal you make and would largely agree.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: irishfabian+ Mon, 17 Apr 2023 17:40:06

    I was too young then but I was in Democratic Left. I find it hard to say anything bad here eventhough I have moved on politically. In the context of the times it made sense. But looking back the Trot bashing upsets me. I have a mutial on Twitter a Canadian Catholic who is a Marxist. While the local Trotskyists rejected him for his faith the Communists embraced him. Though I know if was in Ireland the PBP would be delighted to have him. That being said the need for class politics is important in Ireland today.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: banjoagbeanjoe Mon, 17 Apr 2023 18:49:24

    In reply to WorldbyStorm.

    I may be wrong but I’m blaming Harris for writing the stuff about RTÉ and about John Hume. But whether Harris wrote it or not, MacGiolla said it. Not good.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: roddy Mon, 17 Apr 2023 20:21:14

    The programme he criticised was a very weak effort by RTE to expose group B racketeering and the coup de gras was only administered by a much more robust and truthful BBC spotlight programme a few years later.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Colm B Mon, 17 Apr 2023 21:08:31

    I know Harris wrote big chunks of De Rossa’s infamous 1989 AF speech and that he also wrote some of Mac Giolla’s 1988 AF speech so there’s no reason to believe that he didn’t have an input into this speech.

    The intemperate attacks on Hume are classic Harris stuff but the gross hypocrisy of it all is that Mac Giolla and most of the WP leaders ( and ideologues) knew and condoned the existence of a secret armed group, under the direction of the party, that regularly engaged in low level violence and serious crime while denouncing all and sundry as soft on violence.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: roddy Mon, 17 Apr 2023 21:54:01

    In reply to Colm B.

    And also collaborated with Loyalists up to and including the swapping of weapons.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Colm B Tue, 18 Apr 2023 18:50:03

    And, according to The Lost Revolution, if I remember correctly, received arms training from the British Army in the 1980s.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: banjoagbeanjoe Tue, 18 Apr 2023 21:01:10

    Speaking of ex-Presidents of the WP and stuff, I kept having to do double takes when I saw that chap on the telly a few times in the last couple of days, walking out of the Special Criminal Court building after being acquitted on a charge of murder.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: banjoagbeanjoe Tue, 18 Apr 2023 21:02:37

    In reply to Colm B.

    I think you may have misremembered there, Colm B. Was it not the army of the DPRK?

    Reply on the CLR