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John Palmer

Irish Tories win ‘red scare’ election

(26 June 1969)

From Socialist Worker, No. 128, 26 June 1969, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AFTER A CAMPAIGN of vicious ‘red-baiting’ and rumour-mongering, the Fianna Fail Green Tory Party has been returned to power in the Irish general election.

The opposition Tory Fine Gael Party failed yet again to establish itself as the major party of Irish capitalism. For the Labour Party the results are more complex.

Labour lost ground in the rural areas and a number of prominent right-wing MPs lost their seats. This was due in part to the hysterical campaign mounted by Fianna Fail leaders like Blaney, McEntee and millionaire Charles Haughey that was designed to show that Labour was being led by ‘anti-Christian, Maoist, Cuba-inspired Leftists’ and ‘red queers from Trinity College’.


By this, Blaney and co. were referring to the increased influence in the Labour Party of centrists and left social democrats like Conor Cruise O’Brien (of Katanga fame) and Dr Noel Browne.

But these smears did not prevent Labour making big gains in the urban areas, particularly Dublin.

The position of the Dail Labour Party has clearly moved to the Left. The partial and inconsistent identification of the Labour Party with the upsurge of urban discontent among trade unionists, tenants and the civil rights movement paid off in increased votes.

But Labour has itself to blame in part for its failing in the rural areas. The party had no aggressive policy to win the support of the small, poor farmers

During the election there was a republican-inspired campaign of violence against large foreign rancher farms in the midlands. It is in this direction that Labour’s future rural policy should be aimed.

Ireland is heading for economic troubles, partially as a backwash of the British crises. This will probably result in a new upsurge of militant strikes and extra-parliamentary opposition to Fianna Fail’s proposed legislation to curb political and trade union liberties.


The Marxist Left can seize opportunities in the present situation of broadening its support among young workers, dissident republicans and trade unionists. It would be equally foolhardy for them to either place trust in the centrist leaders or to retreat into a sectarian shell. The Marxists should also extend their links with the revolutionary Left organised in the northern PD and civil rights movement.

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Last updated: 18 January 2020