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The Communist Party of Ireland (CPI; ) is a small all-Ireland Marxist party, founded in 1933. An earlier party, the Socialist Party of Ireland, was renamed the Communist Party of Ireland in 1921 on its affiliation to the Communist International but was dissolved in 1924. The present-day CPI was founded in 1933 by the Revolutionary Workers' Groups. In 1941 the part of the party in the Republic suspended its activities, while the northern area continued to operate under the name Communist Party . The party was re-established in the Republic in 1948 under the name Irish Workers' League, which changed its name in 1962 to Irish Workers' Party. The two sections reunited as the Communist Party of Ireland in 1970.

In the first half of the 20th century the CPI failed to change what it deemed to be the authoritarian and strict Catholic political culture of Ireland and its office was burned down on one occasion. The party provided the core of the Irish volunteers in the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War, losing a number of members who were killed in action.

Historically the party belonged to the wing of international communism that looked to the Soviet Unionmarker for inspiration. In the mid 1960s the U.S.marker State Departmentmarker estimated the party membership to be approximately 100. The party grew consistently through the 1960s and 70s and early 1980s. In the late 1980s membership declined significantly during the collapse of the USSR, but the party survived the 1990s and has since been rebuilding. The party’s aim is to win the support of the majority of the Irish people for ending the capitalist system and for building socialism. It is actively opposed to neo-liberalism and to the European Union. Internationally it maintains fraternal relations with other communist and workers’ parties and is a strong supporter of Cubamarker and Venezuelamarker.

The general secretary of the party is Eugene McCartan. The Belfast District produces a weekly paper called Unity, while the Dublin District produces a monthly paper called Socialist Voice. There are also branches in Cork, Galway, and Mid-Ulster.

While it is a registered party, the CPI has rarely run candidates in elections and has never had electoral success. Despite this it has had a significant influence in the trade union movement and was actively involved in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. In addition, a number of prominent Irish Labour Party members were former members of the CPI . The CPI operates a bookshop in Dublin called Connolly Books and has the support of a youth organisation, the Connolly Youth Movement. Both are named after the Irish socialist James Connolly.

General Secretaries


  1. Benjamin, Roger W.; Kautsky, John H.. Communism and Economic Development, in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Mar., 1968), pp. 122.

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