Return to Statements menu
Socialist Democracy repudiate Workers Party slander

21st November 2005

Extensive coverage has been given to a recent speech by Des O’Hagan, a leading figure in the leadership of the Workers Party. The speech, a highly distorted version of the history of the Workers Party, has drawn a great deal of comment, drawing attention to the level of sectarianism involved in attacking every organisation in the republican and socialist movements at a time when significant elements of these movements had agreed to support the campaign opposing the extradition of Workers Party leader Sean Garland to the US.

Indeed the speech is a classic of political sectarianism. It illustrates the reactionary rump that the Workers Party has become when the fact that they are receiving some support from outside their ranks leads immediately to a tide of distortion, lies and slander, clearly designed to inoculate the membership from contact with other political organisations.

One particularly outrageous set of slanders is levelled at the American SWP and at an individual, Gerry Foley, a former member of the SWP, a supporter of the Fourth International and, at times when in continuous residence in Ireland, a member of the then Irish section of the FI – formerly Peoples Democracy and now Socialist Democracy. The slanders are particularly outrageous as they are part of a justification for the criminal attempt by the OIRA to drown dissidents from within their own movement in blood.

The facts are these:

The evolution of the Workers Party led it to identify internationally with a Stalinist bureaucracy that stamped on workers’ rights in the countries where they ruled. At the same time they became notorious in Ireland for extending their rivalry with the Provisional republicans into a root-and-branch denunciation of the democratic core of the republican programme. As a result of that political evolution they were sharply criticised by the largest non-Stalinist international movement, the Fourth International, while at the same time internal pressures led to a split and the formation of the IRSP. The Official republicans dealt with the external criticisms with slander and the internal split with violent attacks on their former members. The violence has declined. The lies and slanders have not.

In fact the CIA slander stands history on its head. The COINTELPRO operation is public knowledge in the socialist movement in Ireland and in the US. It is well documented and details, not the SWP as a CIA front, but a very determined effort by the CIA and FBI to infiltrate and destroy the SWP. The attempt failed because of the success of the SWP in forcing secret government documents into the public domain.

Gerry Foley has lived his entire life within the socialist movement. He remains active to this day in the US movement Socialist Action. He can stand over his past policies and actions. That’s a great deal more than Des O’Hagan and the Workers Party can do.

John McAnulty

For Socialist Democracy


Return to top of page