There’s a party for every persuasion in Irish politics

Main players...Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin lead two of Ireland's 22 political parties.
Main players...Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin lead two of Ireland's 22 political parties.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

It may surprise you that there are 22 registered political parties in Ireland; there are the ones we all know – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin, the Greens, Solidarity/People Before Profit, the Social Democrats.

And there are parties that are vehicles for independent TDs such as Independents for Change, which is headed by Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.

There’s the Workers Party; still there despite a split in the early 1990s when most of its TDs formed Democratic Left, which later merged with the Labour Party.

It has one councillor in Dublin, Eilis Ryan who is also standing for the European elections.

The Communist Party of Ireland still exists even though the Berlin Wall came down 30 years ago. It was tiny in the 1980s when run by the veteran communist Michael O’Riordan, and is still tiny now.

And then there are the few you’ve never heard of – like the Kerry Independence Alliance, based in Killarney. I know nothing about it, never knew of it until this week.

Another seemingly obscure operation is the Workers and Unemployed Action Group. But I am aware of this outfit, which has been around for well over two decades.

Based in Clonmel in South Tipperary, it has been the group which has supported Independent left-wing TD Seamus Healy, who has been in the Dáil for almost two decades now.

Éirigí is registered only for local elections. That gives you a clue as to its provenance. It is one of the republican splinter parties, with a hard-line and Marxist outlook.

It has an abstention policy towards Leinster House, and has opposed the peace process. It used to have one local councillor in Dublin (a former Sinn Féiner) but no longer holds local authority seats. Its members are a regular presence at street protests, with flags and regular banners.

Fís Nua has been around for a while, 2010 in fact. It is based in Shannon and ran two candidates in the 2016 general election, one in Clare, the other in Donegal.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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