Lively debate at Workers’ Party conference

There was extensive debate on an array of topics including the housing crisis, drug decriminalisation and the European Union at the Workers’ Party Annual Delegate Conference in Dublin on 9th-10th October.

The event in the Communications Workers’ Union hall was attended by over 150 delegates and observers from across Ireland and Britain. The event’s main guest speaker was the Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, Dr. Hermes Herrera Hernández, who updated the conference on developments in Cuba and its changing relationship with the US.

The conference saw the adoption of a lengthy document entitled ‘Socialism in the 21st Century’ which renewed and updated the party’s policy positions across a wide range of issues from education and childcare to economic development.

Among the policies adopted were those aimed at “building an egalitarian, democratic and secular system of education in the Republic and Northern Ireland.” The document also made clear the party’s position on the European Union, stating: “The EU is not just undemocratic. EU centralised monetary policy makes it inherently anti-democratic.”

The document also expresses the WP’s “firm rejection of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)” deal which proposes to impose neoliberal restrictions on governments’ approach to trade. On water charges it makes clear that the WP rejects “the concept of the commodification of water and in accordance with our longstanding opposition to double-taxation, completely rejects the concept of charging for domestic water supplies.”

A motion from the North Belfast Branch proposing the Workers’ Party campaign for the decriminalisation of some illegal drugs provoked a lively debate with an eventual decision to refer the issue for a longer period of research and review. There was unanimous support for a motion from the Lucan Branch in County Dublin calling on the gardai to work in closer co-operation with community activists and organisations to improve its relations with people in working class areas.

Policies were also adopted on several local issues of concern to party activists including the adoption of a motion from the Mayfield and Cork City North West Branches. It outlined clearly the party’s complete opposition to the proposal to merge Cork City Council and Cork County Council into a single so-called super council.

The conference concluded with a rousing speech from Workers’ Party President, Mickey Donnelly, in which he said the WP was a party that “works relentlessly, tirelessly, fearlessly towards achieving an Ireland that is truly free. An Ireland that is free from exploitation; free from poverty; free from the oppressive clutches of reactionary religious zealots; free from the institutions and people whose central ideological tenets involve little more than urging passive acceptance of whatever misery capitalism heaps upon workers and their families.”