Joe Carolan

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Joe Carolan

Joe Carolan is the Auckland based leader of Socialist Aotearoa. He is the partner of Heather Lyall.


Joe Carolan comes from Dundalk, on the border with South Armagh.

He became active in socialist politics age 17, helping to organise an occupation at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. Carolan had a punk band called "Death to Bourgeois Culture".

He graduated an with Hons degree in Media and Politics.



One Union management team: Desmond Leota, Maori & Pasifika Support; Isobel Cain, Youth Support; Anu Kaloti, Migrant Workers/Indian Support; Matt McCarten, Case Advocate; Joe Carolan, Campaigns; Julia Liu, Chinese Support.

Red & Green at SEA AGM


October 2020 with Joe Carolan, Helen White, Ricardo Menendez March.

Amnesty for overstayers

Joe Carolan July 23 2021.

Its time for action. #pathwaystoresidency #LetThemStay #AmnestyforOverstayers #AllPowerToThePeople #MigrantLivesMatter #MaskorRaid


— with Dan Guilo, Anu Kaloti, Sebastian Vidal Bustamante, Yiru Li, Kennedy Maeakafa FakanaanaakiFualu, Denny Thompson, Will Ilolahia, Pamela Sanchez Munoz.

Facebook group


Migrant Workers Association of Aotearoa Public Facebook group, accessed May 21, 2020.

Admins and Moderators

Love Aotearoa Hate Racism

March 25 2019 nearly 4,000 people gathered in central Auckland yesterday in a brilliant display of solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks, and in opposition to racism, Islamophobia and fascism.

The march, organised by Love Aotearoa Hate Racism, began in Aotea Square, with the names of the victims of March 15’s mosque shootings read out by Bosnian refugee and trade union activist Hana Obradovic. This was followed by a two-minute silence before the march moved off up Queen Street. The mood was defiant and energetic, with chants of “when migrant lives are under attack, stand up fight back!” and “the people, united, will never be defeated!” Up the front were a mix of flags and banners representing tangata whenua, the Migrant Workers Association, Dayenu: NZ Jews Against the Occupation, several unions including Unite, FIRST, E tu, and NZNO, and two political organisations, Socialist Aotearoa and Organise Aotearoa.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson called the shooting “a watershed moment” which had sparked much-needed conversation about racism in this country. “We have to stand against racism, but we can’t go back to the Aotearoa which allows this racism to stand,” she said.

Love Aotearoa Hate Racism co-founder Joe Carolan said that, although the shootings were the deed of one gunman, the attack is the “tragic consequence” of New Zealand’s failure to address racism.

“This has given confidence to fascist elements here and overseas, culminating in last week’s tragic and harrowing outcome.

Anu Kaloti of the Migrant Workers Association delivered a moving poem she had written ‘I Can’t Sleep’, calling on New Zealanders to not rest until racism is defeated. Other speakers included Māori activist Joe Trinder, Rachel Macintosh of the Council of Trade Unions, investigative journalist Nicky Hager, Mike Treen from Global Peace and Justice Auckland, Jasmine Ali from Melbourne Stand Together Against Racism, Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition Sydney, and Elliot Crossan from Socialist Aotearoa. Representatives from the Federation of Islamic Associations NZ and Masjid e Umar spoke on behalf of the Muslim community, and there was a powerful speech from the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network.[1]

Dublin activism

Carolan moved to Dublin, at a time of high unemployment in Eire. He became activist with the Irish Nation Organisation of the Unemployed and with the Scheme Workers Alliance, affiliated with the ATGWU union.

Joe Carolan joined the Socialist Workers Movement in early 1992 after the X case, in which socialists fought for a "woman's right to choose" in an Eire "still controlled heavily by the Catholic Church".

He also organized the SHUT THORP demo and occupation of O Connell Street bridge against the expansion of the Sellafield Nuclear Plant.

Move to New Zealand

Carolan moved to New Zealand in November 1999, two days before the Battle in Seattle. He joined the then Socialist Workers Organisation and was active in the Waikato.

In 2000 and 2001, Carolan was Waikato contact for the Socialist Workers Organisation.

In 2000 Carolan was active in Fightback Waikato. [2]

In May 2000 Carolan spoke at speaker at the SWO's Socialism 2000 hui Metro College, on "Why Socialists Oppose Immigration Controls".

In 2000, Anti Racism Movement organiser Joe Carolan said "the Waikato is a nazi free zone, and we will build on the unity we have found in this campaign to welcome refugees and immigrants to this area, to oppose police and institutionalised racism, and to make sure that scum like Kupka will never get the respectability that they crave."

Carolan later attended S11 blockade of the WEF in Melbourne with Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand M.P.s Sue Bradford and Nandor Tanczos.

Back to Europe

Joe Carolan was involved in Battle of Genoa in July 2001.[3]

I was one of over 200 Irish activists that marched, demonstrated and took part in direct action in the Italian city of Genoa in July 2001, a battle that has left a deep impression on all of us, a watershed confrontation between our movement and big capital that has changed all our lives.

Carolan then returned to Eire, becoming coordinator of Globalise Resistance for Ireland.

He was also elected onto the Political Committee of Socialist Workers Party (Ireland).

Carolan led a 3000 strong demonstration at Pearse Street police station after May day Police riots. He was also activist with the Irish Anti War Movement, forming student anti war groups Dublin wide.

Further education

Carolan completed a Masters Degree in Equality Studies in UCD, in 2004 (thesis on the "Movement of Movements"). He was a member of the of left wing Students Council in UCDSU. Masters Thesis on the Movement of Movements.

Return to New Zealand

Carolan returned to New Zealand May 2005, becoming an organiser with the Unite Union in Auckland.

In July 2005, Carolan was a leader of Hamilton G8 Protest Action!. protest action included a symbolic football match: The G8 vs. The World's 'Poor'.

"Workers Charter"

In 2005 Carolan was an endorser of the Socialist Worker instigated Workers Charter movement.

"Supersize my pay"

On 17 June 2006, at the Geelong Trades Hall in Victoria, Australia, the Young Workers Conference, initiated by Socialist Youth organization, Resistance, and backed by Geelong Trades Hall, under the theme 'Up Yours Howard- Young Workers Fight Back' "will tap into the growing sentiment that Howard's laws have the potential to be disastrous for many people in the community, particularly the young and students" . Joe Carolan spoke on the Supersize My Pay Campaign, alonside activists Mingzui Fu and Sam Harre from New Zealand Unite and Radical Youth.

Workers Charter conference


Matt McCarten, John Minto and Socialist Worker hosted a “Workers Charter” meeting Saturday October 11 2006, in Auckland.

The Workers Charter Movement was the embryo of a new left wing political party, modeled on the successful British “Respect” coalition and the less successful Australian Socialist Alliance. It was also a co-ordinating body for militant union trade union activity. The “movement” published a “Workers Charter” newspaper.

This Saturday, 7th October, starts 11am

Auckland Trades Hall 147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn

11 – 11.10am Welcome from chair (Daphne Lawless).
11.10am – 12.30pm – Workers Charter, a paper for the movement – introduced by John Minto (editorial) & Bronwyn Summers (financial).
1.30 – 3pm – Unions in the 21st century – intro by Laila Harre (NDU), Andrew Little (EPMU), Sue Bradford (Green MP), Mengzhu (Radical Youth) and Joe Carolan (unionist & socialist).
3.15 – 4pm – Human Rights for Workers campaign – introduced by Vaughan Gunson (unionist & socialist) and Eliana Darroch (Radical Youth).
4pm – 4.30 pm – Graham Matthews, Australian unionist.
4.30 – 4.45pm – election of expanded, national editorial board of Workers Charter paper.
4.45 – 5.30pm – Climaction Day (4 November) to build a campaign for System Change, Not Climate Change. Speaker(s) to be confirmed.[4]

Socialist Worker leader

In 2007 Socialist Worker Central Committee members were;[5]

Civil Rights Defence Committee

Starting on October 15, 2007, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service officers and police began raids on the homes of environmental, unionist and Maori activists in regards to an alleged terrorist training camp in the Urewera mountains. Peter Robson from Green Left Weekly spoke to New Zealand-based activist Joe Carolan, who is involved with the Civil Rights Defence Committee , the Solidarity union, and is a member of the national executive of Socialist Worker, about the raids and who is affected by them. [6]

May Day letter

In 2008, several prominent activists wrote a letter to Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly, urging a more militant stance;[7]

Our belief that the job of unions is to represent their members, and not the ruling political party of the day. In that, the NZRDA is to be congratulated for standing up for its workers rights, and it is the CTU leadership that needs a lesson in giving the union movement a good name by supporting rather that attacking those who are in struggle.


NZ Committee to Free the Cuban Five

Circa 2009, the list of Initiating Members and Supporters of the New Zealand Committee to Free the Cuban Five, included Joe Carolan, Socialist Aotearoa, Hamilton.[8]

2012 "Revolution" conference

The first weekend of September 2012 saw Socialist Aotearoa's Revolution conference held over the weekend at Auckland Trades Hall.

Debating the future of the left on Saturday afternoon, Matt McCarten from Unite union told the conference that Socialist Aotearoa is a small but serious part of the left, respected for its interventions in union disputes and political campaigns and 'Punched above its weight.' Labour MP Darien Fenton also spoke at the closing session, calling for unity on the left to fight the Government. And Joe Carolan from Socialist Aotearoa discussed the situation of the radical left internationally and the success of parties of the radical left such as Die Linke in Germany andSyriza in Greece and the need for a radical left alternative.[9]

Carolan connection


Joe Carolan and John McDonnell



  1. [1]
  2. Socialist Worker Issue 4/2000
  3. [2] Belfast with Sunshine- Battle of Genoa
  4. Workers Charter ConferenceSubmitted by Anonymous on 4 October 2006
  5. [3] Unity blog, Second statement on Venezuelan revolution from Socialist Worker-New Zealand. july 7, 2009
  6. [4] Green Left Weekly. November 1, 2007
  7. Socialist Aotearoa blog April 27 2008
  8. Initiating Members and Supporters of the NZ Committee to Free the Cuban Five
  9., Socialist Aotearoa blog Monday, September 03, 2012,Revolution conference - Spring in our step]