THE DUBLIN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS – founded on March 3rd , 1886 : 120 years ago this year …….
First published in ‘AP/RN’ , 27th February 1986 .
In the local elections of 1898 , the DCTU-established ‘Labour Representation Committee’ fielded 11 candidates in Dublin , eight of whom were elected , three of them being returned as Aldermen after heading the poll in their local wards . Unfortunately , personality clashes and a lack of confidence among those elected quickly wrecked the LRC and no further elections were fought until 1912 .
But politics of a radical Republican nature were beginning to emerge within the trades’ council itself and it is worth noting that the decline in allegiance to the parliamentary ‘Nationalist Party’ and support for Sinn Fein occurred in the DCTU many years before it manifested itself on the national level .
Radical Irish Republicans like Michael O’ Lehane , P.T. Daly and Peadar Macken emerged as leading lights in the trades’ council in the early 1900’s and , in alliance with the more socialist delegates , managed to remove the conservative elements from positions of influence in the Council . This was made possible by the changed nature of the Dublin labour movement after the 1908 carters’ strike .
Led by Jim Larkin , the carters’ strike marked the emergence of the general workers as an organised force within the trade union movement through their union , the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) : Larkin’s success as an organiser and motivator , allied with the militancy of the unskilled worker , set the stage for the ‘Great Lock-Out’ of 1913 …….
On 30 January 1972 , 14 civilians were shot dead by the British Army . They had been taking part in a civil rights march in Derry , protesting against internment without trial .
British ‘Lord’ Widgery was highly selective in the ‘evidence’ he used in his ‘official’ report on the matter – and some of the accounts he chose to include were highly suspect. The victims’ families have campaigned for justice ever since . Their case is too strong to ignore any longer .
First published in ‘MAGILL’ magazine , February 1998 .
By Eamonn McCann .
The more clearly the truth emerges about Bloody Sunday , the uglier it seems , and the less likely that the British government will agree to look it in the face . Given the context set out above , it will strike many as common sense that the Bloody Sunday operation was intended to strengthen the position of (Six County) ‘Prime Minister’ Brian Faulkner and stave off Stormont’s collapse . Direct evidence might be found in the minutes of the meetings at Stormont on 26 January 1972 and two days later at Downing Street : at the Widgery hearings , James McSparran QU , for the relatives , raised this with the Commander of Land Forces in the North of Ireland , Major General Robert Ford –
McSparran : ” Before the brigade orders were prepared , it had been discussed by the Security Committee and it had been discussed by the cabinet ministers in England ? ”
Widgery: ” That is not a question for the General (Robert Ford) . “
McSparran : ” Could I ask him does he know if it had been discussed ? ”
Widgery: ” No .”
That Widgery’s exclusion of the political background was itself politically motivated is suggested by the minutes of an extraordinary discussion between Widgery , Edward Heath and the British ‘Lord Chancellor’ , ‘Lord’ Hailsham , at Downing Street , two days after the massacre , on the evening before the British ‘Commons’ announcement of Widgery’s appointment to conduct the ‘inquiry’ . Among “… a number of points which I [Edward Heath] thought it right to draw to the Lord Chief Justice’s [Widgery] attention (was that) it had to be remembered that we were in Northern Ireland (sic) fighting not just a military war but a propaganda war . ”
(‘1169…’ Comment – Edward Heath , like the rest of his type then , [and , indeed , now , where the Irish are concerned] made no secret of his true feelings towards the ‘natives’ in other comments he made at that same time …)
INFORMERS : The RUC’s Psychological War …….
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , March 1983.
By Sean Delaney.
The use of informers is not a new phenomenon , either within Irish history , the present phase of the liberation struggle , or within any comparable liberation movement ; in fact it should be borne in mind that the IRA itself has frequently recruited informers within the enemy camp . It is the use of informers , not their mere existence , which is constant , that determines the danger they pose . Nor is the enactment of ‘extraordinary’ legislation or the arbitary re-interpretation of existing legislation a new phenomenon in the context of British efforts to crush nationalist resistance since 1969 . (‘1169…’ Comment – British efforts to “crush resistance” in Ireland has taken place since long before 1969 .)
Internment at the British Secretary of State’s pleasure , in 1971 , underwent a change of name but not of substance in response to international outcry , to the less draconian-sounding ‘detention’ on the authority of a judicial ‘tribunal’ : British embassies throughout the world propagandised that ‘internment was ended’ . When the Gardiner Report finally argued pragmatically that internment (or ‘detention’) was unproductive as a means of reducing Republican resistance , it was phased out to be replaced by Diplock ‘Courts’ sentencing on the basis of torture-extracted statements in Castlereagh . Long Kesh internment camp underwent a cosmetic name change too , ‘becoming’ ‘Her Majesty’s Prison Maze’ . ‘Special Category’ status was replaced by an attempted process of criminalisation .
Eventually , what had become known with good reason as the H-Block conveyor belt , shipping hundreds of Republicans into jail on little or no evidence , was undermined to a significant degree by Amnesty International’s torture findings on Castlereagh interrogation methods in 1978 , and by the Bennett Report in 1979 . (‘1169…’ Comment – Westminster was hostile to both Amnesty and Bennett not because they went some way in exposing the RUC/judiciary/’establishment’ as corrupt [which Westminster already knew!] but because it meant that ‘the mother of all parliaments’ would have to change tact , but not substance , in how they ‘dealth’ with ‘the troublesome Irish’ .)