Category Archives: Workers rights
In Review: Jeffrey Leddin’s “The ‘Labour Hercules’: The Irish Citizen Army and Irish Republicanism, 1913-23”
“If you or anybody else expect that I’m going to waste my time talking ‘bosh’ to the crowds,” James Connolly was heard to say, “for the sake of hearing shouts, you’ll be sadly disappointed.” He preferred instead to “give my message to four serious men at any crossroads in Ireland and know that they carry it back to the places they came from.”
This would prove to be more than just ‘bosh’ on Connolly’s part. A stiffening of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) was noted in October 1914, upon his assumption of its leadership, with the announcement of a mandatory parade for all members. Rifles were to be “thoroughly cleaned”, anyone absent would be noted and latecomers refused admittance.
Meanwhile, articles by Connolly started to appear in the Workers’ Republic, critiquing the. . .
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Posted in 1913 lockout, Constance Markievicz, Counter-revolution/civil war period, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Partition, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Trade unions, War for Independence period, Women in republican history, Workers rights
Britain’s George V visited Ireland in July 1911. The protests against this visit were the first point we can see the coming together of the forces which would launch armed rebellion five years later. Crucial to the protests was the Socialist Party, whose leaders included James Connolly and Constance Markievicz.
Two years later, Markievicz would be a central founding leader of the workers’ militia, the Irish Citizen Army, and serve on its Army Council from then until the Rising. Connolly was living in Belfast at the time of the founding of the ICA in November 1913. He would return to Dublin and take over leadership of both the Transport Union and the ICA from James Larkin when Larkin departed for the United States in October 1914.
Below is the text of the leaflet issued in 1911 to Dublin workers by the SPI branch in the city.
THE ROYAL VISIT.
“The great appear great to us only because we are on our knees:
LET US RISE.”
As you are aware from reading the daily and weekly newspapers, we are about to be blessed with a visit from King George V.
Knowing from previous experience of Royal Visits, as well as from the Coronation orgies of the past few weeks, that the occasion will be utilised to make propaganda on behalf of royalty and aristocracy against the oncoming forces of democracy and National freedom, we desire to place before you some few reasons why you should unanimously refuse to countenance this visit, or to recognise it by your presence at its attendant processions or demonstrations. We appeal to you as workers, speaking to workers, whether your work be that of the brain or of the hand – manual or mental toil – it is of you and your children we are thinking; it is your cause we wish to safeguard and foster.
The future of the working class requires that all political and social positions should be open to all men and women; that all privileges of birth or wealth be abolished, and that every man or woman born into this land should have an equal opportunity to attain to the proudest position in the land. The Socialist demands that the only birthright necessary to qualify for public office should be the birthright of our common humanity.
Believing as we do that there is nothing on earth more sacred than humanity, we deny all allegiance to this institution of royalty, and hence we can only regard the visit of the King as adding Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in British state repression (general), British strategy, Constance Markievicz, Democratic rights - general, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland and British revolution, Ireland in 1800s, Irish Citizen Army, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Political education and theory, Public events - Ireland, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, Women in republican history, Workers rights
Kevin was born on May 25, 1956 and died on August 1, 1981 in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh, after an extraordinary 71 days on hunger strike. The Dungiven oration was given by Dan Ó Murchú of the IRSP.
A chairde ‘s a comradaithe ba mhaith liom fáilte a chuir raibh uillig, go raibh maith agaibh as a bheith anseo.
Friends and comrades I’d like to welcome you all here today as we remember the life and legacy of INLA Vol. Kevin Lynch.
On the 1st of August 1981 Kevin passed away after 71 gruelling days on hunger strike at the young age of 25, a year older than I am today.
Coming from a staunch republican community the stories from the dark days of the H-Blocks, of the Blanket protest and the hunger strikes were often told.
Young republicans, such as myself, who did not live through the dark days of the conflict, often struggle to truly comprehend the conditions that could give rise to such an undaunted determination as was shown by Kevin and his nine comrades.
As a result, I believe, the younger generation has a tendency to almost mythologise Kevin and his comrades.
Over these last few days, speaking with friends and comrades of Kevin and reading about his days as a young lad growing up here in Dungiven, to his days as a revolutionary republican socialist I found the story of a man that trumps all the stories of the Irish mythological heroes. It’s the story of an ordinary lad growing up in Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1981 hunger strike, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Commemorations, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Hunger strikes, Irish politics today, IRSP, Partition, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in 1970s and 1980s, Repression and resistance in the six counties today, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, Workers rights
From the republican newspaper The Irish Felon, June 24, 1848. This appeared in the original as one paragraph, but I have broken it up into several paras to assist 21st century readers.
Although written 170 years ago as a condemnation of the main property-owning class in Ireland then (the landlords) it sounds very modern, like a condemnation of the main property-owning class in Ireland today (the capitalists). It is not hard to see why Connolly – and Pearse – admired Lalor so much. The article represents a step forward in republican political thinking from the time of Tone and Emmet, as over four decades of class development and conflict had taken place and Ireland was in the midst of the horrors of a massive famine created by the capitalist property system.
The bit about “strangers” is also apt as a description of the Dublin4 and WestBrit set of today.
by James Fintan Lalor
They or we must quit this island. It is a people to be saved or lost; it is the island to be kept or surrendered. They have served us with a general writ of ejectment. Wherefore I say, let them get a notice to quit at once; or we shall oust possession under the law of nature.
There are men who claim protection for them, and for all their tyrannous rights and powers, being “as one class of the Irish people”. I deny the claim. They form no class of the Irish people, or any other people. Strangers they are in this land they call theirs – strangers here and strangers Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1840s, Famine, Young Ireland & Irish Confederation, 21st century republicanism and socialism, Anti-social activity, British strategy, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Famine, Fintan Lalor, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Ireland in 1800s, Natural resources, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, Workers rights, Young Ireland
by Stewart Reddin
Robert (Bob) Andrew Doyle was born on 12th February 1916 at 15 Linenhall Street in Dublin’s northwest inner city. He was the second youngest of five siblings. Bob’s parents, Peter Doyle and Margaret Alldritt, were married in Dublin on 13th November 1904. Peter, aged 20 at the time, was employed as a seaman and lived on Upper Dorset Street with his three sisters. It appears that both his parents were deceased by 1901 as his eldest sister Anna, aged 20, is recorded in that year’s Census as head of the family.
Bob’s mother Margaret was 19 when she married and she lived in Kilmainham with her family. Alldritt is not a common surname in Ireland (in his biography, Brigadista, written in conjunction with Harry Owens, Bob’s mother’s family name is recorded as Aldridge, however the birth, marriage and census records confirm her family name was Alldritt). In the 1911 Census there were just seven Alldritt families recorded in Ireland; four were located in Dublin and three in Co Antrim. All of the Alldritt families were Protestant, with the exception of Margaret’s family who were Catholic.
Following their marriage, Peter and Margaret lived at 18 Moore Street, later moving to 33 King’s Inn Street where they shared a room with Margaret’s parents, Ignatius and Margaret Alldritt, and sister Annie. According to the 1911 Census Bob’s grandmother Margaret was 75 years of age (she was born in 1836 almost a decade before the Famine) and was 20 years older than his grandfather Ignatius. Bob’s grandparents had married in the Catholic church of St Andrews in 1874 and his grandmother was 50 years of age when she gave birth to Bob’s mother.
By 1911 Bob’s father was employed as a marine firefighter in Dublin’s docks and his mother Margaret had given birth to three children. However, two of her children had died in infancy and only one, Mary aged four, was surviving. Sadly, this was an all too familiar feature of working-class life in Dublin at the turn of the twentieth century.
High unemployment, overcrowded accommodation (one third of all families in Dublin lived in one room dwellings) and lack of public sanitation resulted in Dublin having the highest infant mortality rate (142 per thousand births) of any city in Ireland or Britain. Following the redevelopment of the area around North King Street and Church Street in 1915 Peter and Margaret moved to a newly built home at 15 Linenhall Street.
The wretched slums of Dublin
Linenhall Street is enclosed within a triangle of main thoroughfares — Church Street to the west, North King Street to the south and Henrietta Street to the north. In the 1700s the area was at the centre of Dublin’s burgeoning linen industry. It was the site of the city’s magnificent Linen Hall with its splendid façade, distinguished by a domed gated entrance which faced onto Linenhall Street.
However, by the late 1700s the linen industry in Dublin had Read the rest of this entry →
Posted in 1930s and 1940s, British state repression (general), Counter-revolution/civil war period, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Housing, Imperialism (generally), Internationalism, Irish Citizen Army, Political education and theory, Prisoners - past, Public events - Ireland, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism post-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, War for Independence period, Workers rights
The Trade Union Left Forum is hosting a discussion on the impact of the Industrial Relations Act on trade union activity and organising on Wednesday, 3rd of July from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm in the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin (right near the ICTU conference in Trinity College).
Presentations will be made by:
Gareth Murphy (Financial Services Union)
John Douglas (Mandate)
The event is open to members of all trade unions so please come along and have your say.
For more information, please go to the TULF’s event page on Facebook by clicking here.
The author of this article, Vincent Doherty, was a member of People’s Democracy in the 1970s and early 1980s and, later, Sinn Fein. In recent years he has been an independent marxist and anti-imperialist.
Now that the dust has settled on last week’s elections, it is possible to appreciate the magnitude of Sinn Fein’s electoral collapse. For the usually well-oiled Sinn Fein electoral machine, results in both the local council and European elections across the 26 counties were nothing short of catastrophic. At the Dublin counts in the RDS, seasoned Sinn Fein cadre looked punch drunk, as one after another their council seats vanished from a local authority where they had been the majority party over the past 5 years. Across the 26 counties as a whole, they lost half their council seats. Even more dramatically, two of their three European seats in the 26 counties have been lost (confirmed on Wednesday after the recount was completed, that the SF seat in South Constituency was lost to the Greens).
In Dublin, where they topped the poll in the last Euro elections, their vote this time fell from just under 25% to less than 10%, despite a popular, effective and well-liked candidate in Lynn Boylan. The party also lost control of Dublin City Council, where they lost half of their seats. This decline was repeated in the other urban areas like Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Right across the 26 counties the story was the same, even in their hinterland constituencies along the border. The party’s vote was decimated, as they were effectively abandoned by an electorate clearly tired of Sinn Fein’s zigzagging on major issues. From the Dublin European election count, it was clear that people looking for a fighting left candidate abandoned Sinn Fein in favour of socialist campaigner Clare Daly, whilst the soft left element of the Sinn Fein vote was hoovered up by the Greens. The fact that climate change has been front and centre in the news of late obviously contributed to the “Green wave”, this despite the fact that the Irish Greens are well to the right of many of their European sister parties.
Coalition: a poisoned chalice
Perhaps most damaging of all for Sinn Fein, was the leadership-inspired decision at the last Ard Fheis (Annual Delegate Conference), to support. . .
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In the later 1920s and early 1930s, with Moss Twomey as chief-of-staff and figures such as Peader O’Donnell, Frank Ryan, Michael Price, David Fitzgerald and George Gilmore in the leadership, and in the context of the Great Depression and the ruthless right-wing economics of the ruling Free State party Cumann na nGaedheal, the IRA developed clearly leftwards. It initiated a left-wing party, Saor Eire in 1931. It was viciously denounced as “communist” by the Catholic hierarchy and banned by the repressive Free State regime. There were also differences in the IRA, as the rightist elements were uncomfortable at SE’s radical social programme and did not like the idea of standing up to the Catholic hierarchy on social issues. SE lasted only a matter of months.
The IRA then abandoned trying to build a political formation and simply continued as a military-political organisation. In 1933 it adopted the programme below.
We have within our own nation all the resources which are required to provide every citizen not only with the essentials of life but with comfort. Luxuries may not be yet be available, but the first stage is to provide an adequate standard for all.
The resources and wealth of the nation are very largely in the possession and under the control of those sections who are hostile to national freedom , and who have allied themselves with british imperialism. The immediate task is to rescue from them the heritage which they have robbed and plundered from the mass of the people. The powerful interests which dominate Irish life at present were built up on the basis of the conquest.
The machinery of the state was devised and has been developed to serve these interests. The powers of this state machine must be smashed. The machinery of the state of the republic of Ireland will be devised to serve, not any privileged sections, but the needs of the whole people.
Members of the Irish Republican Army must accept the responsibility which the organisation has shouldered and which history and tradition has imposed on it; that is the leadership of the struggle for national freedom and for the economic liberation of the people. They must make themselves Read the rest of this entry →
“If we have learned anything from recent progressive changes in Irish society with the Repeal movement and the Water Charges campaigns is that it is through struggle, constructive participation and direct action that change really happens.”
– Joanne Pender, February 2019.
During the people’s resistance against injustice in the North of Ireland, it was said that ordinary people did extraordinary things. This could be said of socialist Joanne Pender, originally from the Curragh Camp but now living in Kildare Town with her husband and two children.
In February 2012, hundreds of people packed into the Hotel Keadeen in Newbridge for a meeting organised by the Anti-Household Charge Campaign. The attendance included Joanne, who had never before considered Read the rest of this entry →
The article below was written by Connolly and appeared in the paper Workers Republic, October 30, 1915. The version below was transcribed in 1997 by the James Connolly Society and appears in the Connolly section of the Marxist Internet Archive.
The Irish Citizen Army was founded during the great Dublin Lock-Out of 1913-14, for the purpose of protecting the working class, and of preserving its right of public meeting and free association. The streets of Dublin had been covered by the bodies of helpless men, women, boys and girls brutally batoned by the uniformed bullies of the British Government.
Three men had been killed, and one young Irish girl murdered by a scab, and nothing was done to bring the assassins to justice. So since justice did not exist for us, since the law instead of protecting the rights of the workers was an open enemy, and since the armed forces of the Crown were unreservedly at the disposal of the enemies of labour, it was resolved to create our own army to secure our rights, to protect our members, and to be a guarantee of our own free progress.
The Irish Citizen Army was the first publicly organised armed citizen force south of the Boyne. Its constitution pledged and still pledges its members to work for an Irish Republic, and for the emancipation of labour. It has ever been foremost in allnational work, and whilst never neglecting its own special function has always been at the disposal of the forces of Irish nationality for the ends common to all.
Its influence and presence has Read the rest of this entry →