Sunday, 13 November 2011

James Connolly

James Connolly

The rise of the Labour movement in Ireland had also gathered momentum especially in the more working class areas of Dublin, where there existed a lot of poverty, poor wages and high unemployment.  In 1896, James Connolly from Edinburgh, but born of Irish parents formed the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP).  It was a two cause party linking worker’s rights to Irish freedom.  His party wanted a socialist republic with the Irish people owning the land, production, distribution and exchange.

James Larkin

James Larkin was another key leader in the Labour Party and in 1913 during a rally at which he was the speaker, the police baton charged the assembled crowd.  After this an Irish Citizen Army was found for the purpose of protecting striking workers and protesters.  1913 is also known as “The Great Lock Out”, or the year of the Great Transport Strike.  Larkin organised this along with The Irish Transport General Worker’s Union as a strike for improved wages and conditions.  The strikes were followed by a lock-out and a struggle began which lasted through until 1914, with the employers emerging victorious.

A strange element of the Irish Citizen Army was that it was in basis a working class organisation yet it was led by members of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy.  Countess Constance Markievicz and James Connolly appeared to work well with the working class leaders of Larkin and Jack White.  They also had arms delivered at Howth in County Dublin and although troops were sent to seize them, they were opposed by a jeering crowd and returned to barracks.  They did however open fire as they left killing three civilians.

I would now recommend reading in Irish History about the Fenian Movement and the Irish Republican Brotherhood.