Communists Always Fail in Irish Elections; ANSWER TO CORRESPONDENTS

Article excerpt

QUESTION Has a Communist Party of Ireland candidate ever been elected to public office? NO-ONE from the Communist Party of Ireland has ever been successful in an election, either at local or national level.

However, despite its lack of electoral success, it has been very influential behind the scenes.

The only time that communists came close to winning seats in an election in Ireland was in Northern Ireland, in the general election held immediately after the end of the Second World War.

Originally founded in 1921, the CPI was relaunched in 1933.

In 1941, it went its separate ways north and south. In the south it suspended its activities, not resuming them until 1948.

In the North, the Communist Party of Northern Ireland was set up in 1941 and in the 1945 general election, it put forward three candidates.

None of them came close to winning a constituency - but the three candidates between them got a very respectable 12,000 votes.

The two sections, from north and south, got together again in 1970 to reform the CPI.

Originally, the CPI had been set up to counter the authoritarian, Catholic ethos of the infant Irish Free State.

It had little support and once, in the 1930s, its office in Dublin was burned down.

During the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, most of the Irish supporters of the republican, anti-Franco side, came from the membership of the CPI. A total of 133 Irish volunteers fought on the Republican side; 63 were killed.

Over the years, the party has had its ups and downs. In the 1960s, it had about 100 members and was very active in the Dublin Housing Action Committee. When most of the Soviet bloc invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, the party lost much influence here.

But just as that was happening, the party was gaining much strength in the North, where members were so active in the civil rights association that the CPI virtually controlled it.

In March 1970, the CPI issued a manifesto called For Unity and Socialism, advocating the election of left-wing governments in both parts of Ireland, and eventually, the creation of a United Ireland.

In the south, the party - and Marxism generally - has long wielded much clout behind the political scenes, despite its complete lack of Dail or council seats, as it has long had significant influence in the trade union movement. …