The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) contested 5 local council electoral areas in theMay 5th elections held in the occupied North of Ireland. This was the first time that the IRSP had dipped it’s toe in the electoral waters in over 30 years and the decision to make a small scale, selective electoral intervention came after a period of historic change within Irish Republican Socialism. The decision by the Republican Socialist Movement’s armed wing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), to leave centre stage was announced in 2010. However, as a revolutionary socialist party, the IRSP has remained as convinced as ever that there is no ‘parliamentary road to Socialism in Ireland’ andlikewise, there was no political journey towards the bland reform-ism of ‘mainstream’ Republicanism nor any appetite for seeking admission to the Stormont debating club, that currently administers British rule in Ireland, at the behest of it’s Westminster pay-masters.
As a small party, withvery limited financial resources, the IRSP’s selective intervention in the North’s local council elections, was the first small, often faltering, step towards building a fightback on behalf of working class people in Ireland, who have been largely forgotten by the larger parties and marginalised by a succession of draconian ‘austerity’ measures implemented by Stormont, Westminster and indeed Leinster House.
In Strabane, the IRSP’s candidate, Paul Gallagher, doubled his previous mandate as an independent candidate, gaining a devilishly close 666 first preference votes and was duly elected as a councillor but following a recount, requested by the pro-partition SDLP candidate, Paul was deprived of his seat on Strabane council by a tantalisingly close 0.5% of a vote! At present there is a distinct likelihood of a legal challenge after a ‘rogue vote’ was included in the SDLP opponent’s count.
In Derry’s Northland, the IRSP’s Lucy Callaghan polled a very respectable 353 votes and reached the 4th stage of the elimination process. In Derry’s Shantallow electoral area, the IRSP’s Martin McMonagle, polled 539 first preference votes which came close to the quota. Paul Little, the IRSP’s candidate in Oldpark, North Belfast, polled 379 first preference votes, while Jim Gorman, the IRSP candidate in Lower Falls, polled 209 first preference votes.
Despite the controversy and understandable upset over the Strabane-Mourne decision, that saw Paul Gallagher deprived of his seat on the council (which may yet be awarded to him following a possible legal challenge) the Irish Republican Socialist Party has confounded the critics who very publicly stated that the 5 candidates would receive a vote that would not exceed double figures! The IRSP along with other candidates clearly demonstrated that pro-GFA parties were not going to continue enjoying their previous cosy electoral hegemony andthis will, no doubt, be expanded upon at a later date. In the areas where the Irish Republican Socialist Party stood candidates, they now have a baseline to work with and build upon for the future. The IRSP Election Agent for L/Falls, Alex MagUiginn, stated:
“The Irish Republican Socialist Party in West Belfast fought a clean campaign, with only a fraction of the other parties’ resources. Participation in bourgeois elections are not what solely defines Irish Republican Socialism but we now have 5 candidates who polled 2,146 first preference votes, not to mention those who gave us 2nd or 3rd preferences and this is a baseline which will be built upon.”
As the IRSP’s national chairperson, Martin McMonagle, stated at the announcement of the party’s decision to field candidates in the Northof Ireland’s local council elections, this is just “the beginning of a fightback” on behalf of working class people!
Saoirse go deo!
written by Iskra