National Labour Party (Ireland)

National Labour Party
Leaders William X. O'Brien,
James Everett
Founded 1944
Dissolved 1950
Split from Labour Party
Merged into Labour Party
Ideology Social democracy

The National Labour Party was an Irish political party active between 1944 and 1950. It was founded in 1944 from a rebel faction of the Labour Party, inspired by the intransigence of the incumbent leadership of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU) against the majority of the party.[1]

The split in the Labour Party was preceded by divisions in the broader labour movement, specifically the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union under William X. O'Brien and the Workers' Union of Ireland under James Larkin.[2] Larkin had rejoined the party in 1941, and two years later, he was nominated by the Dublin North-East branch of the Labour Party to contest the 1943 general election. The Administrative Council of the national party, with ITGWU members in the majority, refused to ratify this nomination. However, the Dublin party and Dublin-based candidates supported Larkin, as did Labour leader William Norton, and eventually Larkin was a victorious Labour candidate. When the ITGWU faction sought the expulsion on Dublin officials as revenge, it was routed. Two weeks later, the ITGWU disaffiliated from the Labour Party. Five of eight TDs sponsored by the union resigned from the parliamentary party to form the National Labour Party, led by William X. O'Brien and James Everett.

There was much bitterness between the two parties. The ITGWU claimed that communists had taken over the Dublin Labour Party.[1] The Catholic press supported the ITGWU's allegations, which were founded on James Larkin's communist activities in groups like the Irish Worker League.[2] The number of Communists in the movement had increased, since 1941 when the Communist Party of Ireland had disbanded and its members had joined the Labour movement.[3] Based on conservative labour support, the National Labour Party won four seats in the 1944 election and five seats in the 1948 election. After the latter election, the National Labour Party entered the First Inter-Party Government against the wishes of the ITGWU. National Labour was represented at cabinet level by James Everett, now its leader, and so the party was obliged to work with several coalition partners, including the Labour Party. Co-operation in government, the retirement of O'Brien and the death of Larkin removed the causes of animosity from the labour movement.[2] In 1950, the National Labour Party folded back into Labour.

General election results

Election Seats won ± Position First Pref votes % Government Leader
4 / 138
Increase4 Increase5th 32,732 2.7% Opposition James Everett
5 / 147
Increase1 Decrease6th 34,015 2.6% Coalition (FG-LP-CnP-CnT-NLP) James Everett

See also


  1. 1 2 Barberis, McHugh and Tyldesley (2005).
  2. 1 2 3 Manning (1972).
  3. The Communist Party of Ireland A Critical History, Part 3 by DR O'Connor Lysaght, 1976.


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