CONSTITUTION AND RULES
[as amended by the 26th National Congress, September 2022]
- Páirtí Cumannach na hÉireann (the Communist Party of Ireland) is an organisation of working people extending over all Ireland which is guided by Marxism-Leninism.
- The Communist Party of Ireland upholds, carries forward and develops the socialist republican values of James Connolly, who in 1896 founded the first working-class political party in the country, and is inspired by the efforts, sacrifices and experiences of the pioneers of the Irish labour and national independence movements.
- The Communist Party of Ireland is guided in its attitude to all international problems by the principle of proletarian internationalism, which means solidarity with and support for the struggles of working people all over the world who are fighting against imperialism and for peace, independence, and socialism.
Aims and Objectives
- The Communist Party of Ireland aims for the ending of the capitalist system and for building socialism, a social system in which the means of production, distribution and exchange are publicly owned and utilised for the benefit of the whole people.
- In a socialist Ireland full use will be made of the country’s natural resources and of the people’s skills and intelligence to ensure full employment, social security, and the constant improvement of the material and cultural standards of all the people.
- Guided by the experience of the Irish working-class, the pioneers of the Irish labour movement and the revolutionary traditions of the Irish people and by the international working-class movement, the Communist Party of Ireland, as an integral part of the Irish working-class movement, shall:
- strive for cooperation with all other sections of the labour movement to win the majority of the people for national liberation and socialism;
- work consistently to achieve unity in action of the labour movement and all anti-imperialist and democratic organisations in the struggle against the capitalist system in its many forms, and on the immediate needs and demands of the people;
- take an active part in the everyday struggles to defend and improve the standard of living of the working people in urban and rural areas;
- work for the protection and extension of democracy at all levels of society, including equal rights and opportunity for women, and work for the removal of all undemocratic legislation;
- initiate, encourage and support in every way all activities to safeguard and develop our cultural traditions, particularly in relation to the Irish language;
- support the struggle of all peoples for world peace, national independence, and socialism;
- develop fraternal relations with political parties in other countries that are likewise guided by the principles of Marxism-Leninism; and
- work to establish close, friendly relations between the people of Ireland and people of all lands.
Organisation and Structure
- The Communist Party of Ireland is a voluntary organisation of the most politically advanced members of the working-class and other sections of the people exploited by the capitalist system who are prepared to work for the achievement of a united, independent, socialist Ireland.
- Its structures and procedures are based on the principle of democratic centralism, to ensure active participation by the membership in formulating policy combined with maximum unity in action.
- Democratic centralism means that decisions, policies and the election of leading committees are made through the maximum involvement of the membership, and that once a final decision is made, by consensus or majority vote, all members are obliged to carry it out.
- The free and comradely discussion of questions of Party policy in individual units, or in the Party as a whole, is the right of every Party member and logically follows from inner-Party democracy. Only on the basis of inner-Party democracy is it possible to develop self-criticism and to strengthen Party discipline, which must be conscious and not mechanical.
- Adherence to these principles entails:
- election of all leading Party bodies, from the lowest to the highest;
- regular reports by leading bodies to their basic organisations;
- clear Party discipline and subordination of the minority to the majority;
- binding character of the decisions of higher bodies on lower bodies; and
- ultimate accountability of higher bodies to those who elected them.
- By making a commitment to unite around a programme of action, members strengthen the Party and help unify the working-class and people’s movements.
- The highest authority of the Communist Party of Ireland is the Ard Fheis (National Congress), which shall be convened every three to four years, except when, as determined by the Ardcomhairle (National Executive Committee), exceptional circumstances make this impossible, such circumstances to be explained to the membership. The National Congress endorses or amends the Party Programme and Constitution, determines policy on key questions, and elects the National Executive Committee by majority vote in secret ballot. All decisions taken by the Congress are binding on the whole Party.
- The National Congress shall be composed of all full members of the Party. All efforts will be made to allow all full members to attend. Where this is not possible, it shall be composed of delegates elected at specially convened Branch meetings, in proportion to the size of the Branch membership, and members of the outgoing NEC.
- The draft resolutions and other materials for consideration by Congress shall be supplied to the membership at least two months before the date of the National Congress. Amendments to the Party Constitution must be submitted in writing to the NEC at least one month before the date of the National Congress.
- An Extraordinary National Congress may be convened at any time by the NEC when, in its judgement, circumstances require it. Such an Extraordinary National Congress shall also be convened by the NEC upon receipt of a requisition endorsed by not less than one-third of the registered membership in good standing.
National Executive Committee
- Between National Congresses, the highest political and organisational body of the Party is the National Executive Committee. It shall consist of fifteen members. In the event of a vacancy, the NEC shall have the power of co-option by majority vote.
- Members nominated for membership of the NEC must be in good standing and have been members of the Party for not less than three years, unless in the opinion of the NEC there are exceptional circumstances.
- At its first meeting, which must take place within one month of the National Congress, the NEC shall elect a Cathaoirleach (National Chairperson), Ardrúnaí (General Secretary), and Cisteoir (National Treasurer). The NEC may also elect a Leaschathaoirleach (Deputy National Chairperson) and Leas-Rúnaí (Deputy General Secretary). The NEC may elect such other Officers as are deemed necessary.
- The three first named Officers, together with no more than three other members elected by the NEC, shall function as a Coiste Seasta (National Political Committee). The NPC shall be accountable to the NEC and shall be responsible for the day to day running of the Party between NEC meetings.
- The NEC at its first meeting after the National Congress shall create such committees from the Party membership as are considered necessary, such as Women’s, Industrial. Education, etc. All such committees shall be accountable to the NEC and their progress shall be monitored by the NPC. The NEC may create additional committees at any time should this be required.
- The NEC shall convene a National Biennial Comhdháil Comhairleach (Consultative Conference). The Consultative Conference shall discuss a report on the implementation of the policies and decisions of the National Congress.
- An extraordinary Consultative Conference in either state may be convened at any time by the NEC when, in its judgement, circumstances require it.
- The basic organisational unit of the Party is the Branch.
- A minimum of four members is required to form a Branch. Branch meetings shall be held at least once a month. The NEC, in consultation with the Branch members, will name each Branch in accordance with the area of residence of the members, their place of work, or their occupation. Branches may also be named after prominent figures of the labour or independence movements.
- Each Branch shall hold an Annual General Meeting, at which the work of the Branch for the year shall be reviewed and a programme of activities for the year ahead decided upon. A Chairperson, a Secretary and a Treasurer shall be elected by the members in secret ballot at the AGM These comrades, together with any other comrades considered appropriate by the AGM, shall constitute the Branch Committee which shall collectively direct the work of the Branch for the coming year.
- The Branch Committee shall be responsible for the regular convening of meetings of members, for the political and organisational direction of the Branch, for the initiation of internal and public activities, for the collection of members’ subscriptions and other fundraising activities, and for making reports on Branch work and problems to the NEC when called on to do so.
- Branch meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the Standing Orders which are included as an appendix to this Constitution.
- In areas where no Party organisation exists, membership at large may be given by the NEC. These members shall pay membership subscriptions to the National Office.
- Membership of the Communist Party of Ireland is open to all persons aged eighteen years and over who accept the Party’s Constitution and rules, and actively work for the implementation of its programme, participate in the work of their Branch and any Party committees of which they are a member, and pay membership subscriptions regularly. All Party members must re-register every year in order to maintain continuity of membership.
- The duties of membership shall include:
- playing an active part in the discussion and formulation of Party policy and the promotion of activities;
- protecting the unity of the Party;
- reading Party publications and assisting in their circulation;
- playing an active part in the working-class movement and being a member of their appropriate trade union, tenants or residents association, professional body and other mass organisations of the people;
- the obligation to struggle against all manifestations of male chauvinism and discrimination against women, and to fight for the full social, political, and economic equality of women;
- the obligation to struggle against all manifestations of bigotry and prejudice, including national chauvinism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and religious sectarianism;
- the obligation to educate themselves, raising their level of political understanding and broadening their knowledge of Marxism-Leninism;
- the requirement to observe Party discipline, which is equally binding on all Party members. The Party has one discipline for all Communists, irrespective of their past services or the position they occupy. Violation of Party discipline is detrimental to the Party and is therefore incompatible with continued membership;
- the practise and encouragement of self-criticism and criticism from below;
- the requirement to be truthful and honest in their dealings with the Party and other Party members.
- A Party member has the right:
- to take part in the free and comradely discussion at Party meetings or in the Party press of questions of Party policy;
- to criticise, in a comradely manner, any Party worker at Party meetings;
- to elect and be elected to Party bodies; and
- to address any question or statement to any Party body, up to and including the National Executive Committee.
- Members are admitted to the Party only individually. New members are admitted from among the candidate members who have been recommended by the appropriate Party committee or organisation and who have satisfactorily completed the requisite probationary period.
- No member of the party may be a member of another political party. Former members of other political parties or organisations require for admission to the Party, in addition to the above, the recommendation of three members of at least five years’ Party standing. Such applicants may be admitted only through a primary Party organisation (i.e. a Branch) and the endorsement of the NEC is essential.
- Each new member is required to undergo a probationary period of no more than 12-months, the procedure for which will be laid down by the National Executive Committee
- Members shall pay not less than 1 per cent of their monthly net income as their financial contribution to Party funds. The financial contribution from those not in receipt of a wage shall be determined by the National Executive Committee.
- Branch Treasurers shall remit, at the end of each quarter of a year, 80 per cent of the total of subscriptions received from members to the National Treasurer.
- The obligation rests with the individual member to ensure their compliance with this rule. To facilitate this there shall be a card check at all Party meetings.
- A Party member or probationary member who fails to pay membership dues for three months in succession shall cease to be in good standing and shall be so informed. This means they may not attend, speak or vote at any Party meeting. A member who is six months in arrears and so informed shall be removed from the roll of membership after all possible efforts have failed to bring such member to observe the rules.
- In the case of persons whose membership has lapsed because of non-payment of membership subscriptions, and who apply for readmission at any time within one year, the terms of readmission may be decided by the Branch, subject to the approval of the NEC.
- The initial responsibility for maintaining Party discipline lies with the Branch or other basic Party unit. The appropriate Branch Committee shall have the power to remove from office in the Branch or suspend a member for breach of Party rules or conduct or action detrimental to the Party.
- In the case of removal from office or suspension, a member may:
- appeal in writing to the NEC within twenty-one days of being notified of such decision; and
- make a further appeal in writing to the next National Congress.
- The NEC shall have the power to expel members for any of the above reasons. Members shall be notified of expulsion and the reasons therefor through a circular letter to the Branch Secretaries or through the Party publications.
- In the event of an appeal against such a decision of the NEC, the NEC shall establish an ad hoc appeal committee on the basis of nomination from the Branches and consisting of one member of the NEC (with no vote) and four other members, none of whom shall be a member of the NEC, which appeals committee will examine all aspects of the case and, if it thinks fit, interview the member concerned, and make an appropriate recommendation to the NEC.
- When the question of expelling a member from the Party is discussed, the maximum caution and comradely consideration must be exercised, and the grounds for the charges proffered against the member must be thoroughly investigated.
- In the case of minor offences, in the first instance, measures of Party education and influence should be applied (reprimand, warning, etc) and not expulsion, which is the supreme Party penalty.
- All property of the Communist Party of Ireland, of whatever nature the same may be, shall be held by the Trustees as shall, from time to time, be appointed in accordance with the terms of the Constitution.
- The Trustees shall have power, if authorised so to do by the National Executive Committee, to deal with the property, whether by way of a sale, lease, exchange, purchase or otherwise, and all monies or other liquid assets from time to time held by the Trustees shall be invested by them as directed by the National Executive Committee.
- On the sale, leasing, exchange or other disposition of any property the extract of the relevant minute as certified by the General Secretary shall for all purposes be adequate evidence of the decision of the National Executive Committee and the appropriate authorisation to the Trustees.
- The Trustees of the Party shall be appointed by the National Executive Committee. They and shall be five in number and shall ordinarily hold office for a period of five years from the date of their appointment.
- On the fifth anniversary of the appointment of any Trustee, that Trustee shall be deemed to have automatically resigned, and at the next meeting thereafter of the National Executive Committee the NEC shall appoint a new Trustee. The Trustee whose term of office shall have been automatically terminated prior to such meeting shall be eligible for reappointment.
- A Trustee ceases to be a Trustee if they cease to be a member of the Communist Party of Ireland.
- Where a Trustee retires or resigns or is otherwise incapable of acting then the surviving Trustees, provided that there should be no fewer than three of them, shall be entitled to act.
- The members of the organisation shall indemnify the Trustees against any losses or expenses they may properly incur in the exercise of their duties.
- The national offices of the Communist Party of Ireland shall be in Dublin.
- The emblem of the Communist Party of Ireland shall be a crossed hammer and sickle in red on a yellow sunburst.
- Between National Congresses, the National Executive Committee is empowered to interpret these rules and to lay down procedures in all matters.