Irish Republican Socialist Party

Irish Republican Socialist Party
Páirtí Poblachtach Sóisalach na h-Éireann
Leader Ard Comhairle
(National Executive)
Founder Seamus Costello
Founded 8 December 1974 (1974-12-08)
Headquarters Costello House,
392b Falls Road,
Belfast, BT12 6DH,
County Antrim,
Northern Ireland
Newspaper The Starry Plough
Youth wing Republican Socialist Youth Movement
Paramilitary wing Irish National Liberation Army
Ideology Irish republicanism
Political position Far-left
Colours Blue and white

The Irish Republican Socialist Party or IRSP (Irish: Páirtí Poblachtact Sóisialach na hÉireann) is a republican socialist party active in Ireland. It is often referred to as the "political wing" of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) paramilitary group,[1] and claims the legacy of socialist revolutionary James Connolly, who founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party in 1896 and was executed after the Easter Rising of 1916.

Early years

The Starry Plough is often used as a symbol to represent the Irish Republican Socialist Party, its armed wing the Irish National Liberation Army, and other Irish republican socialist groups

The Irish Republican Socialist Party was founded on 8 December 1974 by former members of the Official Republican Movement, independent socialists, and trade unionists headed by Seamus Costello. A paramilitary wing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was founded the same day, although its existence was intended to be kept hidden until such a time that the INLA could operate effectively. Costello was elected as the party's first chairperson and the Army's first chief of staff. Together, the IRSP and the INLA refer to themselves as the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM).

Former Unity MP for Mid-Ulster Bernadette McAliskey served on the executive of the IRSP.[2] She resigned following the failure of a motion to be passed which would have brought the INLA under the control of the IRSP Ard Cohmairle. This led to the resignation of half the Ard Comhairle, which weakened the party. The future Dublin TD Tony Gregory was also a member for a short time.[3] Its poor showing in the 1977 Irish General Election and the assassination of Seamus Costello weakened the organisation.

Costello had been expelled from the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) following a court-martial, and from Official Sinn Féin on the same basis. Along with other activists, he was dissatisfied with the group's tactics and policies, especially on the issues surrounding the 1972 OIRA ceasefire and his growing belief that the emerging conflict was sectarian.

Clashes with other republicans and the British

In 1977, Costello was shot dead in his car by a man armed with a shotgun. His supporters blamed the Official IRA for the killing.

Following meetings between the INLA and OIRA leadership in Dublin, a truce was eventually reached, but in one of the first of the INLA's armed operations, Billy McMillen, commanding officer of the OIRA Belfast Battalion, was murdered by Gerard Steenson. In the following years, the IRSP and INLA saw many of their members, including leading members Miriam Daly, Ronnie Bunting and Noel Little, killed in attacks from British state forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

Three members of the INLA died in the 1981 Irish hunger strike in HM Prison Maze, aka Long Kesh : Patsy O'Hara, Kevin Lynch, and Michael Devine.

In 1981, party members Gerry Kelly and Sean Flynn won two seats on the Belfast City Council in a joint campaign with the People's Democracy party. Neither councillor served a full term, with one going on the run after being implicated during the supergrass trials the other resigning his seat citing disillusionment with the IRSP and later claiming in the Irish News that he had received threats from his former colleagues.

Recent activity

In the 2000s and 2010s, the IRSP has been involved in campaigns and political protests, mainly around Belfast and Derry but also in of parts of the Republic of Ireland as well.


The IRSP opposes both the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Peace Process, viewing both as simply cementing British rule in Ireland.

As of 11 October 2009, the INLA has ordered an end to the armed struggle,[1] because unlike during the Troubles, the current political stance in Ulster allows the IRSP to contest fairly in new campaigns and local elections, as mentioned in their 2009 statement. INLA admitted to "faults and grievous errors" in their prosecution of the armed struggle, stating that "innocent people were killed and injured" and offering "as revolutionaries" a "sincere and heartfelt apology."[1]

The IRSP supported Brexit and supports the Republic of Ireland leaving the European Union[4]


Party members often refer to themselves as the 'Irps' (pronounced 'Erps').[5]

Electoral History

Northern Ireland local elections

Election First Preference Vote Vote % Seats
1981 3654 0.5%
2 / 523
2011 2133 0.3%
0 / 572


The party is represented in North America by the Irish Republican Socialist Committees of North America.

Milestones in the IRSP's history

  1. That the IRSP stands in the tradition of Marx, Engels, and James Connolly. (Drafted by party member John Gilligan [now an elected Independent member of Limerick City Council] and put forward by the party's Limerick branch).
  2. That the IRSP stands in the tradition of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. (Drafted by the party's chairperson, Jim Lane, and put forward by the party's Cork city branch.)
    Both motions are passed and combined into a single statement: that the IRSP stands in the tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Connolly.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "UK and Ireland welcome INLA ceasefire", BBC News, 23 August 1998
  2. Coogan, Tim Pat. The IRA; St. Martin's Griffin; revised & updated edition : 5 January 2002; ISBN 978-0312294168
  3. Tony Gregory: 1947 – 2009, Irish Left Review, 6 January 2009.
  4. "IRSP reiterates call for full British, EU and US Military, Economic and Political withdrawal from Ireland at Moscow conference", Republican Socialist News, 26 September 2015
  5. "Preventing a return to conflict : A discussion by ex-combatants," compiled by Michael Hall, Island Publications, August 2009
  6. Shannon Town Commission Local Elections
  7. IRSP Local Council Election Results, Republican Socialist News, 10 May 2011
  8. "Mourne District Electoral Area Results". Strabane District Council. 9 May 2011. Archived from the original (pdf) on 12 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013.

Additional reading

External links

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