- 23rd November 2020
- Joining an organisation or party
- The Workers' Party
For myself I noted that I met a former school friend in a pub in Howth one evening. I hadn’t seen him in a year or two and we started talking about politics. I expressed my attachment to various anarchist figures and while he wasn’t dismissive he made the point that if I was genuinely interested in doing something political I should think about joining the Workers’ Party.
I’m not sure what happened next though thinking about it I think we must have exchanged home phone numbers and he likely rang me up to go to a meeting of the local cumann of the party. I’m not sure there was any great consideration on my part about what was a fairly big step – I was happy enough with the outline of the politics of the party, even as someone with a Republican tilt to my politics, and the emphasis was, from him, on work on the ground, in the local area and linking that into broader concerns. It was very very pragmatic, almost, and this was presented as a virtue, mundane. I think that for me the significance of the step was the sense of actually doing something as distinct from talking about it as I had previous to that (I should add that my family was broadly supportive having an experience of members of the British Labour Party and my father being involved in Sinn Féin in the 1950s according to himself and having a slight involvement at CPGB Summer Camps through working in London a little later, though he was somewhat dismissive of the latter experience). I recall being welcomed in and a friendly reception but the point being made that this was a probationary basis.
However from that point on I attended meetings there regularly and to all intents and purposes was treated as a full-blown member.
There was another aspect, since there were a series of educational classes in Gardiner Place for prospective members. I have a feeling that I went to just a handful of them. I’ve no clear memory what they entailed and no notes from then. Reading accounts of earlier members and the emphasis placed on the educational process that seems to have been largely absent. In fact I seem to recall that I didn’t managed to make a couple of them and that the local cumann was happy enough to discretely wave me in anyhow.
That said the one and only time I saw Seán Garland close at hand in that period was while in the room at one of those classes, when he poked his head around the door, took one look at the assembled multitude, and promptly retreated.
And that was the probation period after which I received my party card, which I still have somewhere and which I remember meant a lot. Little ‘stamps’ that went into it on payment of weekly subs.
So there I was a fully signed up card carrying member of the Workers’ Party and all of this before I was twenty.