Ireland

A dramatic growth in our international contacts was itself related, in the early part of the 1970s, to the big changes that were underway in the mass, traditional organizations of the working class. But the first extension of our influence came in Ireland. We recruited a young student in Britain who then went back to Northern Ireland on the eve of the explosive Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s. He, in turn, made contact with a new generation of youth, both Catholic and Protestant, around the Northern Ireland Labour Party in the city of Derry. I was invited to visit the North of Ireland in 1969. I arrived just a week before the explosive, almost revolutionary, events in Derry of August 1969. I was able to make contact and discuss with a number of young socialists at that time: John Throne, Bernadette Devlin (now McAlliskey), Cathy Harkin, Gerry Lynch and many others. We built a very important position, at that stage, amongst both Catholic and Protestant youth through the Derry Young Socialists. Later on, through our work at Sussex University, we recruited Peter Hadden who went back to Northern Ireland in the early 1970s, and has played a decisive role in our section in the North and throughout Ireland in this period. Following these discussions I traveled south and met a group of youth who were members of the Southern Ireland Labour Party in Dublin. Unfortunately, most of them who proclaimed to be Marxists were absolutely unfitted for the task of building a powerful Marxist organization. Nevertheless our work in the North of Ireland did, later on, lead to the establishment of an important presence in the South. This, in turn, led to the recruitment of what is now the leadership of the Irish section, comrades such as Dermot Connolly and Joe Higgins, who is now a Socialist Party TD.

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