Saturday, 16 June 2012

Formation of The Irish Citizen Army

The Citizen's Army in Ireland

James Larkin in conjunction with the Irish Transport General Worker's Union started a strike for better working conditions and better wages for tramway men in 1913.  This quickly grew to include other poorly paid workers. The police of the time charged these strikers with batons and as a direct result of this the Irish Citizen's Army was founded to protect the rights of Irish strikers.

Background to the 1913 Lockout

The strikes were however followed by a lockout and after five months of some desperate struggle victory went to the employers in 1914.  James Connolly who was at that time organising union activity in Belfast was recalled to Dublin along with J.R.White who had some British military experience.

The formation of this citizen army was almost like the beginning of the Irish volunteers who would go on to become a significant factor for military activity within the umbrella of nationalism.

There has always been a strong working class in Ireland and often we are guilty of being the victims. However to get this in context the wages were pathetic at this time and the working hours beyond anything we can imagine today.

The struggle like many social struggles all over the world was being able to survive without any income and at the same time be able to feed and protect your family.  In truth little has changed for many people though for the Irish Citizen's army, the difference was it carried on into nationalism as a core principle.

What also made this army different was that the working class were being led by what many would describe as the Anglo-Irish aristocracy who also realised that the middle classes were completely exploiting the working classes of that time. This excellent video above explains it a lot better that I ever could. It talks about James Connolly and his involvement in the Citizen Army. This video is done by Joe Duffy and he explains that there was so much more to Connolly's life than many people actually know.