Party News from the June 1959 issue of the Socialist Standard
The following is a short report of the activities in Ireland and matters which arose during my visit.
We travelled from Belfast to Dublin on the Saturday evening after I arrived, and a get-together had been arranged at the home of Comrade Chris Walsh, who had travelled to Dublin for the occasion.
On Sunday the Conference was held in the Boilermakers’ Hall. This was the first Conference to take place in the Socialist Party of Ireland, and its chief aim was to set the Party on its feet as a national organisation. Until now there has been little contact between the Dublin and Belfast Branches, and they have been virtually two separate organisations.
The Conference appointed an Executive Committee, which will meet alternatively in Dublin and Belfast on the first Sunday of each Quarter. Its members are Comrades Montague and Devine, of Belfast, Comrades McBrain and Adams, Dublin, and Comrade Hackett of Armagh, where there is a sturdy group which probably will soon become a Branch. Montague was appointed General Secretary and Adams, Party Treasurer; one of the E.C.s first tasks will be to go into the question of dues, Central Funds, and Party Finances generally.
The Conference also adopted The Socialist, which hitherto has been produced entirely on the initiative (and at the expense) of two Belfast Members, as the official organ of the S.P. of I. It will still be produced in Belfast, but will now be under the control of the Executive Committee. A Central Branch Secretary was appointed (Comrade Tennyson) who will keep contact with outlying members. The other proposal before the Conference, that the name “World Socialist Party” should be adopted, was turned down.
Five members from Dublin, five from Belfast, Comrade Walsh and myself from England, Comrade Earp from Canada and a sympathiser were present at the Conference. There was some disappointment that the tape recordings of greetings could not, be available for the Conference, and also that I had not been appointed officially as a fraternal delegate by the E.C.
In the evening a propaganda meeting was held in the same hall, and there was a “full house” for this. Collections at the Conference and the meeting totalled nearly £8 and wipe out the deficit in Dublin's funds.
We returned to Belfast on Monday morning, and public meetings were held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The Tuesday one was on Socialism and Religion, a rather daring subject in Ireland, but the audience was appreciative throughout. At the Wednesday meeting a group of Communists made weak attempts at opposition but did accept a challenge to debate, and if this materialises it should be an excellent thing for the Belfast Branch. On Thursday we travelled to Armagh and held another successful indoor meeting; I was told before I left that on the following day the Armagh members had many callers asking for Party literature.
There was no meeting on the last night. Friday, but on this night and all the others, members gathered together to discuss and ask question after question. I left with the impression that the Socialist Party of Ireland is really on its feet for the first time, and the prospects are good. At the same time they need help in various directions.