Roy Johnston

royjDr. Roy H. W. Johnstone (born 1929) is an Irish physicist. He was a Marxist who as a member of the IRA in the 1960s argued for a National Liberation Strategy to unite the Catholic and Protestant working classes. He wrote extensively for papers including the United Irishman and Irish Times. the author of Century of Endeavour and other works.

His father was Joseph Johnston, a farmer, economist and historian, a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin and a member of the Seanad Éireann on several occasions between 1938 to 1954. Joe Johnston was a home ruler who hailed from a small farming Presbyterian background in Tyrone.

Roy was born in Dublin in 1929 he was educated at St. Columba’s College, Rathfarnham, and Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied experimental science and mathematics, specialising in theoretical physics. He  has been affiliated to various progressive and left wing organisations throughout his life. As a student in Trinity he was associated with a Marxist group, the Promethean Society, which in 1948 was part of the formation of the Irish Workers’ League, eventually becoming the Communist Party of Ireland.  He moved to England and joined the Connolly Association, also being part of the Communist Party of Great Britain, returned to Ireland in 1963 and at the invitation of Cathal Goulding involved himself with the Wolfe Tone Society in Dublin. He joined Sinn Féin and the IRA where he became its Director of Education sitting on the Army Executive.

He contributed many articles to its newspaper the United Irishman. He was a supporter of the republican movement’s move to the left with Cathal Goulding and Tomas MacGiolla, which subsequently led to a split with the Provisionals, remaining as a member of the Official IRA after the split. However he left it in 1972 after the officials returned to violence with the assassination of Northern Ireland Senator John Barnhill and joined the Communist Party of Ireland, which he left in 1977. He was subsequently a member of the Labour Party, serving on their International Affairs Committee, and is currently a member of the Green Party (Ireland).

He worked in Aer Lingus as a systems analyst during the 60’s and later was head of the Applied Research Consultancy Group at Trinity. He made an oral presentation to the New Ireland Forum in 1984. He also wrote a bi-monthly science column for the Irish Times.