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Posts Tagged ‘Trade Unionism’

Arthur Scargill at Dunnes Stores, Henry Street with striking workers (Irish Times April 20th 1985)

Arthur Scargill, the (in)famous trade union leader of the National Union of Miners, is to address the upcoming May Day rally in Dublin. There is something about seeing Scargill speak that makes you feel almost entitled to a badge yourself, like you’ve ticked something off some imaginary list. He is, afterall, renowned for his ability in the field.

When I saw him last year, at the Unite union hall (which you can view here) I understood where the reputation comes from. Often humourous, sometimes biting and always engaging, he is in a field of his own when microphones are involved (And the same can be said of megaphones)

While aspects of his own politics remain open for debate among the left, and some debate the tactics and even the ideology of the strike Scargill led, it doesn’t change the fact he remains a speaker most worthy of your ears and time. He is a character of some magnitude.

DCTU May Day Rally:
2 pm , Saturday 1st May
Garden of Remembrance,
Parnell Square, Dublin.

March to Liberty Hall

The red-top smear the staff wouldn't print.

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Who was the first man shot that day?
The player Connolly,
Close to the City Hall he died;
Carriage and voice had he;
He lacked those years that go with skill,
But later might have been
A famous, a brilliant figure
Before the painted scene.

From mountain to mountain ride the fierce horsemen.

W.B Yeats.

This Easter Monday sees a new plaque unveiled in Dublin, a plaque to the memory of Sean Connolly and his siblings ( Joe, Mattie, George, Eddie and Katie, who all served with the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising) and young Molly O’ Reilly who raised the green flag over Liberty Hall in April, 1916.

In The History of the Irish Citizen Army, by R.M Fox, he wrote that:

In front of the hall itself the Citizen Army cleared a space and formed up on three sides of the square. Inside this square was the women’s section, the boys scouts’ corps under Captain W. Carpenter, and the Fintan Lalor Pipe Band. Captain C. Poole and a Colour Guard of sixteen men escorted the colour bearer, Miss Molly O’ Reilly of the Women Workers’ Union who was also a member of the Citizen Army.

….. “I noticed” said a member of the Colour Guard, “That some men, old and middle aged,and a great number of women were crying. and I knew then that this was not in vain and that they all realised what was meant by the hoisting of the flag

Sean Connolly famously starred in a play by James Connolly entitled ‘Under Which Flag?’ a week before the insurrection, which went hand in hand with the symbolic raising of the green flag over the hall. He was shot on the roof of City Hall on Easter Monday by a British Sniper who had taken up position in Dublin Castle. His brother, Mattie, was with him as he died. Sean is remembered not only as a captain within the Citizen Army but also as an actor at the Abbey, with Lady Gregory writing a poem in his memory after 1916.

James Connolly himself wrote in an article titled The Irish Flag published on the 8th April 1916 in the Workers Republc newspaper, that

For centuries the green flag of Ireland was a thing accurst and hated by the English garrison in Ireland, as it is still in their inmost hearts. But in India, in Egypt, in Flanders, in Gallipoli, the green flag is used by our rulers to encourage Irish soldiers of England to give up their lives for the power that denies their country the right of nationhood. Green flags wave over recruiting offices in Ireland and England as a bait to lure on poor fools to dishonourable deaths in England’s uniform.

On Easter Monday, April 5th the flag will be raised at Liberty Hall by a relative of Molly O’ Reilly. This flag will be presented by the great grandson of James Connolly. This ceremony will begin at 12 noon. After this, the crowd will move on to Sean McDermott Street where the plaque will be unveiled on 58/59 Sean McDermott Lower, where the home of Sean Connolly once stood.

There will be a photographic exhibition of images from the revolutionary years in the nearby Community Hall at Killarney Court.

This is all being carried out by the North Inner City Folk Project, the people behind fantastic events like the commemoration of the forgotten women of 1916, and promises to be a good one. I look forward to it!

Update: Images and audio from the launch can be found here

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Front page article End Army Scabbery reproduced in full below introduction.

A nice find this, a copy of Class Struggle (the paper of the Irish Workers Group) from 1988, during the Dublin Fire Brigade strike. Up top there is an ad for a public meeting on the subject of ‘Gorbachev and the Irish Left’ and those wishing to subscribe to the paper are told to address their envelopes to a certain ‘J.Larkin’. The paper also features a lengthy piece on the situation in Palestine at the time.

The Irish Workers Group (Workers Power) emerged out of the Socialist Workers Movement in the 1970s.

” It was formed as a separate organisation after being expelled from that group in 1976. It affiliated to the League for the Fifth International (L5I). By the 2000s, it had ceased producing Class Struggle, its publication, instead distributing the publications of the Workers Power group in Britain. The group was active in several places in Ireland, notably Dublin, Derry and Galway, and, amongst others, published a book on James Connolly”
(sourced from Wikipedia)

This newspaper was handed to my father on route to a Union meeting in Liberty Hall during the dispute. I’ve always been intrigued by the strike for a variety of reasons. While troubles raged in the North for example, firemen from Derry stood outside Dublin firestations with signs proclaiming ‘Londonderry FBU Support Dublin Firefighters’. Despite media smear campaigns, the workers managed to hold some degree of popular support, and perhaps nothing was more poignant than the sight of relatives of Stardust fire victims supporting the Brigades workforce.

(Article from front page, on Fire Brigade strike)

End Army Scabbery!

Union officialdom gave lavish notice to the state before the fire strike to enable them to organise a complete alternative service for the capital. Hundreds of soldiers driving Civil Defence tenders and ambulances are now engaged in the most systematic military scabbing operation since the lengthy bus strike of five years ago.

Union officialdom in fact relies on the state to do precisely this so as to take the cutting edge off the workers’ own direct action, exhausting the strikes and making sellouts and compromises eaiser for them to engineer in their private negotiations. But the issue is too important to be left at this. Every time the state is let get away with army strike-breaking, a nail is hammered into the coffin for the organised working class.

The savage attacks of the ruling class that lie ahead in the increasingly unstabble conditions of capitalism demand that we begin to act now with the sharpest possible response to neutralise the strike breaking capacity of the state whose ultimate logic can carry it into armed assaults and internment of workers in severe cases.

Resolutions and public statements must be issued from every level of the trade union movement, attacking the army action and demanding all out union action to stop it. Anti working class actions of the kind by the bosses state have a significance vastly greater than the breaking of one particular strike. They add up to a question of life and death in the long run for the fighting ability of our class against capitalism, and they demand a militant class wide fight up to the level of indefinite general strike if neccessary.

Victory to the Firefighters!

For A National Firefighters Strike!

All Local Authority Workers Out Now In Support!

For National Trade Union Action To Break The Army Scabbery!

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