John Throne speaking against coalition at 1982 Labour Party conference.

John Throne 1944 – 2019

Addressing a National Conference of the Socialist  Party in Dublin on September 21st, National Executive member, Kevin McLoughlin, marked the recent passing of John Throne in Chicago and registered his important role in the founding and building the Militant Tendency, the forerunner of the Socialist Party, and the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).

We have included here a link to the obituary contained in the Irish Times. In the text below we correct a couple of factual inaccuracies in that piece.

Along with comrades such as the late Peter Hadden, John Throne played a crucial role in assembling the forces that would form the Militant in Ireland in 1974. He also participated in the formation of the CWI, which was established in the same year.

John was a leading full time worker for Militant based in Dublin. He was originally from just outside Lifford, County Donegal and was propelled into political activity by the events in Derry in the late 1960s. After moving to Dublin in the early 1970s, John and the Militant intervened into the Labour Party and played a vital role in organising the opposition to coalitionism and taking on the Labour right-wing under the respective leaderships Brendan Corish, Frank Cluskey and Michael O’Leary.

John was first elected onto the leading body of the Labour Party, the Administrative Council, at the National Conference in Wexford in 1978. Subsequently, in the early 1980s, this role was assumed by Joe Higgins and with agreement, John subsequently left Ireland to do vital work of building an International as an organiser with the CWI.

The Militant grew rapidly North and South from 1982 to 1986, numerically and in its influence. This was based on our principled position on the national question, encapsulated in our slogan ‘For Workers’ Unity and Socialism’, our work in the unions and in popularising socialism and Marxism through the Young Socialists in the North and Labour Youth in the South. This success was in part due to the good political foundation and the tradition of dedication and commitment that had been laid previously by many comrades, with clearly John Throne making a major contribution.

From the latter part of the 1980s John was based in the US. There he was a leading full time activist in Labor Militant, the CWI group in the US, in its early and formative years. The political approach that John adopted to building a socialist organisation evoked strong opposition from a majority of members and he was removed from his positions at a conference of Labor Militant in 1996.

Notwithstanding, that since that time, the Socialist Party in Ireland and John have disagreed on many issues, including John making imbalanced criticism of the CWI generally, and of the party in Ireland in particular, we believe it is important and appropriate to publicly recognise the significant role that John Throne played in the formation and building of the Militant Tendency, the forerunner of the Socialist Party and the CWI for over 25 years.

Link to Irish Times article: https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/john-throne-obituary-leading-irish-marxist-from-rural-protestant-background-1.4032416