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A lifelong Socialist

Sean Garland in 2008
Sean Garland

Profile of Sean Garland.

President of the Workers' Party of Ireland (1998 - 2008).  General Secretary (1977 - 1990).  Currently National Treasurer and Member of the Central Executive / Ard Comhairle.

Sean Garland was born in Dublin 7th March 1934. He joined the IRA in 1953 and in April 1954 on instructions from the leadership of the IRA he joined the British Army in order to secure information for the planning of an arms raid on Gough Barracks Armagh. On foot of this information a successful raid for arms took place on 12th June 1954.

Sean Garland left the British Army in October 1954 and soon after he became a fulltime training officer of the IRA. He was actively involved in organising and participating in a number of major operations from 1955-56. In December 1956 he was in charge of a column which took part in what was called "Operation Harvest" On 1st January he led the column which attacked Brookeborough Barracks.

During the course of the attack 2 members of the column were killed Sean South and Fergal O'Hanlon. Sean Garland was seriously wounded along with three other members of the column. They made their way over the mountains to the Irish Republic and he was hospitalised for some weeks.

He has been imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail Dublin on a number of occasions and was interned from July 1957 to early 1959. He was also imprisoned in Crumlin Road Jail Belfast from September 1959 to August 1962. On release he was active in organising campaigns for release of prisoners in English jails.

He was part of the group within the IRA which from 1962 sought to develop through discussion of its members the need for the IRA to be more involved in political activity. Over the following years he was one of those who became convinced of the need for Socialist programme and policies leading to the adoption by the Sinn Fein party of such a Socialist Programme. He was fully supportive of the campaign for Civil Rights iin Northern Ireland in the sixties.

In the split of 1969/70 he was one of the foremost opponents of the narrow nationalism which some elements sought to impose on the organisation. Over the following years he consistenly worked to curtail and stop the military activities of the Official IRA, which at times had degenerated into terrorist activity.

He was successful with others in securing the Official IRA Ceasefire of May 1972 .The following years saw a continuous internal struggle to defeat a faction within the organisation which refused to accept the new policy as adopted by its members. A parallel struggle was taking place within Official Sinn Fein of which Sean Garland was National Organiser. In December 1974 this faction was expelled from both organisations. On 1st March 1975 Sean Garland was very seriously wounded in an assassination attempt, by Ultra Leftists opposed to the political road, when he was returning home with his wife.

Close to death on a number of occasions over the following weeks he eventually recovered and again took up a leading role in the party. In 1977 he was appointed General Secretary of the party. He was the proposer of the motion at the partys conference that same year to have the name of the party changed to Sinn Fein-The Workers Party to reflect the growing Socialist programme and activity of the party. Over the following years he was deeply involved in expanding theorganisation and support base of the party. In 1982 he proposed at the partyArd Fheis that the name of the party should be The Workers Party of Irelandand the suffix Sinn Fein should be deleted.

Over the 70s and 80s he was very active in developing and expanding the partys international contacts and activity. He played a major role in organising and supporting solidarity campaigns across a wide area of the world, S.E. Asia. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Africa. Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, South West Africa, Latin America Chile, Cuba, Guaetamala, and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, plus Cyprus, Greece against the military dictatorship and Palestine to name some of the many places in the world where United States foreign policy has inflicted great suffering, repression and untold deaths on people. He also took part in the development of fraternal relations with many parties in the former Socialist countries of Eastern and Central Europe.

For decades he has been a vocal and active critic of United States foreign policy. Never an enemy of the American people he is a consistent opponent of the Right Wing Reactionary policies which have been pursued by US administrations over many decades.