'In the service of the People'
The story of the Labour Party
William O’Brien and James Larkin, two leading members of the Irish trade union movement who supported Connolly’smotion to establish the Labour Party. Both men would play a significant, if at times adversarial role, in the developmentof the Labour Party in future decades.As the second decade of the 20th century dawned Ireland was braced for profound political change. Parliamentary reform in Westminster removed the House of Lords veto on Home Rule for Ireland. Constitutional nationalist forces prepared for the new dispensation, while in the North East of the country those pledged to the union between Britain and Ireland mobilised to prevent, or at least restrict, the impending Home Rule legislation. Read more →
‘Big Jim’ Larkin campaigning in the 1943 general election in Dublin North East. Larkin’s return to the Labour Party was not universally popular and contributed to a split in the Party and the foundation of a National Labour Party. Both wings of the Party served in the 1948-1951 coalition government and the Party reunited in 1950.The foundation of Dáil Éireann and Britain's opposition to any element of independence resulted in the War of Independence, which eventually led to the signing of the Treaty in December 1921. The Treaty between Ireland and Britain established an Irish Free State, with dominion status within the British Empire. Read more →
Bill Norton, Labour leader from 1932 to 1960. Norton would lead the Party into two coalition governments – both of which introduced significant reform especially in the area of housing.Despite these tensions both Labour Parties served in the coalition government formed after the 1948 election. The government continued until 1951, a time when the split in the movement was healed. Labour's contribution during its first period in government was impressive, it had a large influence on government policy and proved to be a stable coalition partner. Read more →
Throughout the 1960s Labour, under new leader Brendan Corish, pursued an independent electoral strategy and it put forward an ambitious socialist agenda. His 1968 ‘New Republic’ speech, which declared “At the next general election (we) must face the electorate with a clear-cut alternative to the conservatism of the past and present; and emerge . . . . as the Party which will shape the seventies. What I offer now is the outline of a new society, a New Republic.” was a seminal moment in the development of the Party.The late 1960s in particular saw a younger generation of activists join the Party and the Party put forward a radical left-of-centre agenda, often in the face of smears and slurs from conservative elements in Irish society. Read more →
Dick Spring, who became leader just weeks before the 1982 general election would modernise the Party and challenge the conservative consensus in Irish politics. In 1992 Spring would lead Labour to its then largest electoral success securing 33 seats.Irish politics now witnessed a period of unprecedented instability with three general elections in less than 18 months.Dick Spring became leader of the Labour Party.Read more →
As Ireland faced unprecedented economic and social turmoil in recent years Eamon Gilmore provided the integrity and leadership that the country so badly needed. He led Labour to its greatest election victory in 2011.Today the Labour Party steps forward, ready to provide the leadership, which our country needs in these troubled times. Read more →