James Connolly


A Socialist Candidate for Dublin Corporation

(22 October 1898)

Workers’ Republic, 22 October 1898.
Reprinted in Red Banner, No.15.
Transcribed by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Irish Socialist Republican Party have resolved to enter the electoral field with at least one candidate of their own in the forthcoming elections under the Local Government Act. We must, therefore, beg leave to avail ourselves of this opportunity to place before the Irish public our reasons for taking such a step, as well as to indicate wherein the policy presented by such a candidate will differ, if at all, from other parties in the field.

The Socialist Republican Party, whilst keeping steadily before its members and sympathisers the necessity for broader and more sweeping changes than any municipality can effect, whilst ever emphasising the need for a thorough re-organisation of society itself on a scientific and just basis, has yet never lost sight of the clamant needs of the moment or ignored the immediately practical measures which might be enforced in the interest of the workers. On the contrary, it has ever claimed that the greatest and most irrefutable charge which can be brought to bear against our civic rulers in the past and present is that they, equally with the alien government of our country, have neglected to take such steps to safeguard human life from the greed of property owners as might have been taken, even within the limits of our iniquitous property system. In accordance with this claim we have consistently advocated many measures for sweetening the lot of the toilers and for humanising the conditions under which the poor travail. Needless to say the fact that every measure at all likely to operate in favour of the workers embodied the principle of public or collective ownership or control, or in other words the spirit of Socialism, has at all times acted as a stimulus to our propaganda. We know that the lot of the toilers and the spread of our principles are so inextricably linked that no power can ameliorate the former without bearing witness to the latter – and knowing it we act accordingly. Our candidate will, therefore, take his stand unflinchingly upon the basic principles of Socialism, and the fact of his stand thereon will be the pledge of his fidelity to the interests of the working class.

We have already declared our attitude toward the Labour Electoral Association, lately formed by the Trades’ bodies [1], but it cannot be emphasised too often that we are in thorough accord with that movement, regarding it as rather the main body of that army of Labour of which we are the pioneers rather than as a distinct party. We are in the van and, believing that in the stress of conflict with our mutual foes the main body will be forced to our side, we see no necessity for moderating our uncompromising attitude to make the junction easier. It is inevitable – that is enough. Provided there be honesty on both sides.

On one question, and on one question only, can there be said to be a fundamental difference of opinion. The Labour Electoral Association declares it is not a political body. We are. We are Socialist Republicans, seeking the application of republican or democratic principles to the industrial or social life of the community, and therefore resolutely determined to apply those principles to public life at every step of our advance towards the ideal. Our candidate, if elected, will, therefore, act in the Corporation as an avowed enemy of royalty, and of aristocratic rule in all its shapes and forms.

He will lose no opportunity for demonstrating to the world at large the firm and unquenchable desire of Irishmen to attain their freedom, national as well as economic, and, whilst fighting and exposing sham nationalists and middle class Home Rulers, he will recognise that it would be the reverse of a gain to replace them by the representatives of a West British faction.

But at some future time our candidate will in propria persona propound his views both to the electors and to the Labour Electoral Association, whose official endorsement we intend to seek.

Meanwhile, as this candidature will now certainly be proceeded with at all hazards, we call on all members and sympathisers to rally up and help in the necessary work.

The Socialist Republicans of Ireland step at last from the domain of theory into the realm of practice. The Class War enters upon its final political expression.

Comrades: To your post. [2]



1. After the Local Government Act 1898 gave the vote to a large section of the working class, trade unionists throughout the country formed associations to stand labour candidates in the elections. Connolly welcomed this in the editorial of the August 27 Workers#8217; Republic: see Collected Works II (New Books, 1988), p.227-9.

2. E.W. Stewart stood for the ISRP in Dublin#8217;s North Dock Ward in January 1899, and received 448 votes, 12% of the total.


Last updated on 29.7.2007