ON THIS DATE (26TH AUGUST) 107 YEARS AGO : A 146-DAY LOCKOUT BEGINS IN DUBLIN.
On the 26th August, 1913 – 107 years ago on this date – at about 9.40am, drivers and conductors on Dublin trams stepped-out of their vehicles and ‘walked off the job’ ; they, and other workers, were objecting to the poor working conditions they were forced to endure and their lack of rights to challenge those conditions, including an ‘unofficial’ workplace ‘rule’ that would practically ensure that if a worker joined a trade union he or she would be sacked.
The workers, who were fully supported by James Larkin, a revolutionary socialist who despised capitalism and supported the underprivileged, wanted better working conditions and the right to join a trade union without being penalised or sacked for doing so. The tram workers were not then unionised (either were Dublin Corporation employees, building workers or the staff that worked in Guinness’ Brewery) but they had admired and supported Larkin and the then four-years-young, ten-thousand-membered ITGWU in the manner in which they had been fighting for improved conditions for the so-called ‘unskilled workers’ in Dublin, who were, mostly, members of the ITGWU : the workers and their trade union representatives were strongly agitating for a shorter working day (to work 8 hours a day rather than 12 or more hours a day), for better provision (if not actual jobs) for the many unemployed in the city, guaranteed pensions for workers who survived into their 60th year and a ‘Labour Court’, of sorts, where disagreements could be aired and settled in a neutral atmosphere.
It should be remembered that the Catholic Church as an institution decided not to organise ‘soup kitchens’ etc or offer assistance of any kind which might be of benefit to children during the lockout, as those poor kids were the sons and daughters of the striking workers and that particular church supported the employers and branded Jim Larkin (pictured) as a ‘political troublemaker’. Also worth remembering is the fact that anti-republican Arthur Guinness refused to close his premises or follow other such advice/demands from William Martin Murphy and, while he didn’t actually join with Murphy and other employers in directly opposing the strikers, he organised for what was a large sum of money in those days – £500 – to be donated to a ‘fighting fund’ set-up by Murphy and other employers – ‘…(the Guinness company) had a policy against sympathetic strikes, and expected its workers – whose conditions were far better than the norm in Ireland – not to strike in sympathy ; six who did were dismissed. 400 of its staff were already ITGWU members, so it had a working relationship with the union. Larkin appealed to have the six reinstated, but without success..’ (from here.)
The lockout ended after 146 days as the workers and their families were literally penniless and starving, even though their conditions, wages, hours worked, health and safety issues etc remained unchanged, and they were ‘obliged’ to sign a pledge that they would not join a trade union. However, if any good came out of it, it was that the strikers had at least laid claim to the principle of joining a trade union and had seen that, properly organised, they could defend themselves from attacks by the military and political establishment.
One of the better known connections between Irish republicanism and that period in our history was that Thomas Patrick Ashe (pictured), who was a member of the ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’ (IRB) and who had established IRB circles in Dublin and Kerry and eventually became President of the IRB Supreme Council in 1917, espoused the Labour policies of James Larkin.
Writing in a letter to his brother Gregory he said “We are all here on Larkin’s side. He’ll beat hell out of the snobbish, mean, seoinín employers yet, and more power to him” . Ashe supported the unionisation of north Dublin farm labourers and his activities brought him into conflict with landowners such as Thomas Kettle in 1912. During the lockout, Thomas Ashe was a frequent visitor to Liberty Hall and become a friend of James Connolly. Long prior to its publication in 1916, Thomas Ashe was a practitioner of Connolly’s dictum that “the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour”. Like Jim Larkin and James Connolly, Thomas Patrick Ashe was a supporter and organiser of ‘the men (and women) of no property’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
It isn’t either that we should preach political bias, but that our training in ideals, principles and native things should be so clear as to make the aims of our Movement also abundantly clear and attractive in reason.
As Sinn Féin caters for every aspect of national life, so our school will have to cater for every aspect of human character – spiritual, intellectual and physical. It does not matter how small the start is as it, itself, will provide its own momentum. Our education must be an education in wisdom for the purpose of leading a full life in harmony with God and nature, realising that we, individually, are created a necessary part of the great universal rhythm.
Our first aim should be to find the best methods by which this may be quickly and effectively achieved. We, one and all, must strive to remove the imprisonment of the spirit and shake off this inertia by action, particularly through fostering creative work, intellectually and manually. We give below a general statement of the principles which should motivate our teaching system, and also an indication of some of the methods and subjects which we consider necessary for the successful achievement of our aims…
UPDATED DETAILS FOR THE 2020 BUNDORAN HUNGER STRIKE COMMEMORATION.
On Saturday 29th August 2020, the Bundoran/Ballyshannon H-Block Committee will be holding a rally in Bundoran, Donegal, to commemorate the 39th Anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike and in memory of the 22 Irish Republicans that have died on hunger strike between 1917 and 1981 ; please note that the location in Bundoran for this event has changed – it will now take place in the Republican Garden in that town. Wreaths will be laid for the Hunger Strikers and a new plaque will be unveiled in the Republican Garden.
The 2019 Bundoran Commemoration can be viewed here. Hope to see you all there on the 29th August this year!
‘WHY ARE WE TURNING A BLIND EYE TO PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS WHO HAVE A PROPENSITY FOR VIOLENCE?’
By Mairead Carey.
From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.
Gerry Connell is spending the first days of his jail term behind the walls of Limerick Prison. The 54-year-old County Limerick man killed his son, Barry, at their home in the summer of 1999.
The incident was only one of a number of violent encounters over the past 14 years, a period which the family have described as being “absolute hell”. The reason, they say, is that 25-year-old Barry suffered from acute manic psychosis and, as a result, he violently terrorised his own family. A jury in the Central Criminal Court found his father guilty of manslaughter – three years of his four-year sentence will be suspended.
A month before the shooting, Barry’s father had signed him into a psychiatric unit, but he was back home within days. Sentencing Gerry Connell, Mr. Justice McKechnie said this was “an absolute tragedy for the Connell family” and he had “nothing but sympathy for those involved who were left to deal with it. There must be some other way to respond to a situation, even one as grim as the Connell family lived with and that Gerry Connell faced on this fateful evening..”
ON THIS DATE (26TH AUGUST) 51 YEARS AGO : B-SPECIALS RESIGNATIONS ANNOUNCED (OVER MONEY).
‘On August 26, 1969 (51 years ago on this date), it emerged that a platoon of 21 B-Specials, at Dunmore, in Down, resigned…they arrived at their Ballynahinch headquarters during the weekend and handed over their arms and uniforms. No reason was given for the resignations…” (from here.)
The B-Specials were a part-time but fully-armed pro-British paramilitary outfit, that were sent out on patrol duty, with or without the British Army or RIC. Fifteen-thousand of them were unleashed on the public in February 1921 and those of them that were not ex-UVF men were said to have been unsuitable even for membership of that loyalist gun-gang!
Our history has shown how deranged that gun-gang were and how thrilled its members must have felt to be wearing an ‘official’ British military uniform, with a full weapons kit at their disposal, and plenty of ‘taigs’ to practice on, but it seems that money was their second motivation (their first being religious hatred) –
‘A signed petition to have the ‘B’ Specials disarmed was taken up at all Mass in Newtownbutler and Lisnaskeagh on Sunday, 24/8/1969. On Monday night, 25th/26th August, 1969, about 500 troops moved into Omagh. There were about 500 troops already there. There is one Company of British ‘Green Jacket’ troops in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. There are about 250 troops in all in Enniskillen. There is one Company of Green Jackett troops in Omagh and another one in Ballykelly. There is some ill feeling amongst the ‘Green Jacket’ troops in Enniskillen. Their pay is a fortnight overdue and this is the reason for the bad feelings…’ (from here.)
They were ‘loyal’ to their religious bigotry and the Half-Crown.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
‘Letter To the Editor, The Irish Press newspaper, 18th October 1954, from John Lucy, Lieut. Col. OBE, The Royal Ulster Rifles, Roynane’s Court, Rochestown, Cork’.
“Sir ; As an Irishman who fought in both great wars I take the strongest objection to the posting of Irish nationals to any British military station in this country. During the rebellion such men were moved to England. It is iniquitous that young lads from the Twenty-Six Counties whose first loyalty is to their own nation should be held in any degree as part of the British garrison of the Six Counties where they are liable to suffer at the hands of their blood brothers.
If the English Government wish to continue to support the partition of Ireland they should use English soldiery to further their strange political ambitions here. For no government outside Ireland has the slightest right to colour the definition of prior loyalty for any of our countrymen by word or deed or implication, as England does by posting our young men to North of the border.
It is a deadly sin to create a situation which gives occasion to the crime of fratricide. As I am particularly interested in the welfare of Irish soldiers in the British services I am sending a copy of this letter to the Under-Secretary of State, the War Office, who is responsible for postings.
Lieut. Col. OBE,
The Royal Ulster Rifles,
October 18, 1954.
(MORE LATER [‘The Irish Press’ newspaper replies]…)
Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. But, before we sign off, we need to bring to an end our Staycation Saga Story (!)…
Longest staycation EVER!!
We eventually collected our misplaced suitcase and our ‘lost’ family member, all in one fell swoop! Dunno what all the fuss was about – no need, really, for the cops, the custom people, the bailiffs, helicopters, the SWAT team etc to be rushin’ around the gaff as they were ; sure it was all just a simple ‘misunderstanding’, to be sure.
After hours and hours of questioning, tea, ‘soup’ (!), toilet and smoke breaks, we had convinced the cops that there ‘was nothing to see here’ but the custom lads and lassies, the helicopter pilot and yer man that served us our ‘soup’ still, apparently, had their doubts. The bailiffs had started a fight with the SWAT fellas and were chasing each other around one of the runways when a phone call came through from the New York JFK Security Department, which had been contacted by one of the SWAT guys, before he was rushed to hospital.
The JFK/CIA/FBI/Homeland Security chaps, sobbing and shouting for some reason, pleaded with the Irish guys not to make a big issue of this thing, as to do so would make us reluctant to take any more staycations and would encourage us to go back to
wreck havoc on New York for a holiday..!
Anyways ; they held us for another hour or so, keeping their distance, not quite sure what to say or do to us, when all of a sudden a big brown envelope with USA stamps on it was thrown into the room where we all were and the pilot, the soup man and the rest of them took it over to a corner, opened it, whispered to themselves, gave us back our belongings and opened a side door, telling us they were going for a cúpan tae and pleaded with us not to be there when they got back. And we weren’t, which is why we’re back here now!
So there ya have it ; more-or-less the usual type of holiday for us, whether home or abroad. And we’re grounded for now, according to the suits from the Parole Board, so we’ll see yis next week. Hopefully…!