Monday, 26 August 2013

1913 Lockout Marked

Some members of Republican Sinn Féin laid a wreath at the Jim Larkin statue on O'Connell
Street, Dublin on August 24, 2013 in remembrance of the 1913 Lockout in the city. Des Dalton, President, laid a wreath and spoke on the part played by Jim Larkin and James Connolly in opposing the lockout and the dreadful effects of the lockout.

There will be a seminar in Wynn's Hotel tomorrow night, August 27 at 7pm.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Centenary of 1916 has real relevance for the Ireland of today

Speaking at Republican Sinn Féin’s seminar to launch its build-up to the Centenary of the 1916 Rising in 2016 entitled Who Fears To Speak of Easter Week which took place at the Ireland Institute’s Pearse House on Pearse St on Saturday April 21 the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton said:

“The build-up to Centenary of the 1916 Rising is rapidly developing into a battle over not only how we view our past but also the vision we have for our future. The purpose of today’s seminar is to begin the countdown to 2016 and in doing so set out the relevance of 1916 for the Ireland of today. The other speakers will cover aspects of the Rising such as the idea of the ‘prophetic shock minority’sparking the flames of revolution, and the 1916 Proclamation and its place in the Irish Republican tradition. Ruairí Og Ó Brádaigh is the editor of SAOIRSE. He is someone who has given much of his adult life in Republican activism and journalism. Ruán O’Donnell has brought to the study of Irish Revolutionary history great scholarship and attention to detail as evidenced in his numerous published works notably his masterful biography of Robert Emmet and most recently the first of his three volume study of Irish Republican prisoners in English jails from 1968 to 1998. On the basis of the first volume we eagerly await the next two!

“Speaking in UCD on May 20 2010 the then head of the 26-County administration Brian Cowen accused Irish Republicans of seeking to ‘hijack’ the centenary of the 1916 Rising. It is an accusation that has been oft repeated by other members of the 26-County political class, but it is an accusation that does not stand up. Republicans cannot hijack something they have never abandoned. Irish Republicans will commemorate the centenary of 1916 as well as the anniversaries of the other landmark events in Irish Revolutionary history, just as we have in the past.

“Each year Irish Republicans both in Ireland and abroad have commemorated 1916 without fail. The 26-County state on the other hand has alternated between ignoring the anniversary and banning any commemoration of it. 1916 commemorations throughout the 26 Counties were banned by the Dublin administration in 1937. In 1966 Republicans were baton charged in Dublin by the 26-County police. In 1976 Republicans were prosecuted – including Fiona Plunkett sister of Joseph Mary Plunkett - and some jailed for their participation in a banned commemoration at the GPO. Each year Republicans face the prospect of prosecution for the distribution of Easter Lilys. Despite this repression and repeated attempts at airbrushing the very spirit of 1916 from the collective memory a poll taken on the 75thanniversary of the Rising in 1991 showed 65% of people believed it should be commemorated.

“For forty years the 26-County administration ignored the anniversary of 1916 but since 2006 it has opportunistically seized on it in order to sell the big lie that history has come to an end and British rule in Ireland is now accepted.

“This is the crux of the issue, 1916 is not merely an historical event which can be taken down from the shelf every few years and dusted off like some neglected family heirloom, admired and then conveniently shelved again for another generation or two. It is an event which still speaks to the Ireland of the 21st Century. It is this fact which most unsettles the chattering classes in Leinster House and elsewhere. The speech by Stormont First Minster Peter Robinson marking the centenary of the signing of ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ in 1912 in the 26-County Department of Foreign Affairs on March 30 is the first step in a campaign to dilute and sanitise the Centenary of the 1916 Rising. The political establishments in Stormont, Leinster House and Westminster have signalled their intention to suppress any meaningful commemoration of the 1916 Rising by burying it in a celebration of the imperialist carnage of the First World War.

“The choice of the ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ to begin the ‘decade of commemoration’ the two partition states is in many ways quite apt as it symbolises the fundamental difference in the vision for Ireland held by Irish Republicans as opposed to the forces of represented in the ‘Solemn League and Covenant’. The ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ is written in the narrow, sectarian and patriarchal language of empire, while the 1916 Proclamation addresses itself to ‘Irishmen and Irishwomen’ in the inclusive language of democracy, progress and human freedom. A kind of state sponsored amnesia is employed in an attempt to erase the more uncomfortable aspects of our history. Those very aspects of 1916 that serve as a reminder of how far short the political establishment and the state over which they preside falls short of the ideals set out in the 1916 Proclamation. There is nothing new in this, writing about the 26-Couunty state’s attitude to the Golden Jubilee of the rising in 1966 Declan Kiberd observed that 1966 represented: ‘A last, over-the-top purgation of a debt to the past.’ The former curator of Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland Dr Sighle Bhreathnach-Lynch writing in History Ireland in its Spring 1997 edition said: ‘By concentrating solely on glorifying the past it could be quietly forgotten that the aims of those who had sacrificed their lives in the Rising had not yet been properly achieved. Leaders like Pearse and Connolly were promoted only for their military exploits. Their radical ideas on education and justice, as yet unattained, were not mentioned. This kind of simplistic approach, largely fostered by politicians and propagandists, did not encourage much critical exchange of ideas and as a result a mood of disenchantment quickly set in.’ The role of historians such as Ruán O’Donnell will be vital in the coming years in the battle to ensure a new generation is not robbed of their history or collective memory as a nation.

“Over the next four years the centenaries of the founding of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan will be marked. Next year we will remember with pride the heroic 1913 Lockout. Therein is a message to the trade union leadership of today – another stark reminder of how far removed they are from the founding ideals of the trade union movement at precisely the moment when a vibrant and radical trade union movement is most required. Other anniversaries including the landing of the arms off the Asgard in 1914 and Pearse’s oration at the grave of O’Donovan Rossa act as milestones on the road to the centenary of the Rising. The years after 2016 will bring the centenaries of the historic 1918 General Election – the last occasion in which the Irish people acted as a unit in a single vote on the question of Ireland’s right to national independence. The Tan War, the British Government of Ireland Act which partitioned Ireland, the Treaty of Surrender and the subsequent Civil War or Counter-Revolution all will be reminders of where we have come from and how far we have still to travel.

“Irish Republicans unapologetically declare that 1916 will remain unfinished business while Ireland’s historic right to nationhood continues to be denied by either the old imperialism of British occupation or the new imperialism of the EU and IMF. This is the unpalatable truth that the establishment most fear in the message of 1916 and it is what gives 1916 its continued relevance for a new risen generation. 1916 remains unfinished business while Britain holds any part of Ireland.

The message of 1916 could not be clearer; ‘Ireland unfree shall never be at peace’. Starting today let us embark on a commemorative journey that rekindles the fires of revolution; political, social and economic, ideals and ideas which inspired the revolutionary generation of 1913-23. Let us proclaim to all that we still believe in the ‘The right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland.’

1916 remains unfinished business

Speaking at the Republican Sinn Féin 1916 commemoration at the Republican Plot in Donaghpatrick cemetery, in Co Galway on Easter Sunday, April 8, the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton said:

“As Irish Republicans we are proud of the long tradition of revolutionary endeavour from which we draw our inspiration and guidance in matters of principle. The 1916 Rising is a pivotal event in that history, providing us with the founding document of the All-Ireland Republic, the Proclamation of Easter Week. It is upon this historic declaration of the ‘right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland’ that we take our stand, and it is from Ireland’s historic right to nationhood that we draw our mandate. That right to nationhood can never be extinguished ‘except by the destruction of the Irish people.’

“Here in Co Galway there is a proud tradition of resistance to the forces of the British Crown, it was in Aughrim in 1691 that the forces of Gaelic Ireland took their last major stand against the Sasanach. It was in Ballymoe in East Galway that Éamonn Ceannt one of the seven signatories first saw the light of day. Outside of Dublin Galway witnessed one of the more significant actions against British forces during Easter Week, 1916. With Liam Mellows in command the forces of the All-Ireland Republic ensured that in the words of C.Desmond Greaves: ‘From Oranmore to Ballinasloe, from Tuam to Kinvara, the King’s writ no longer ran on 600 miles of Irish soil.’ Through the following turbulent years of revolution more of Galway’s sons would make the supreme sacrifice in the cause of Irish Freedom, including the Loughnane brothers of Shanaglish, An t-Athair Micheal Ó Gríofa, at the hands of British forces. Later at the hands of the Free State the six martyrs at Tuam and Tony Darcy, who along with his comrade Séan Mac Neela of Co Mayo, died on hunger strike in Arbour Hill in 1940. All of these men died in defence of the All-Ireland Republic of Easter Week and in defiance of its enemies.

“In four years time we will be celebrating the centenary of the 1916 Rising.The speech by Stormont First Minster Peter Robinson marking the centenary of the signing of the so-called Ulster ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ in 1912 in the 26-County Department of Foreign Affairs on March 29 is merely the first step in a campaign to dilute and sanitise the Centenary of the 1916 Rising. The political establishments in Stormont, Leinster House and Westminster have signalled their intention to suppress any meaningful commemoration of the 1916 Rising by burying it in a celebration of the imperialist carnage of the First World War.

“The 1916 Proclamation and the so-called ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ symbolise the fundamental difference in the vision for Ireland held by Irish Republicans as opposed to the forces of imperialism. The ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ is written in the narrow, sectarian and patriarchal language of empire, while the 1916 Proclamation addresses itself to ‘Irishmen and Irishwomen’ in the inclusive language of democracy, progress and human freedom. In many respects the build-up to the Centenary of the 1916 Rising has become a battleground in the war between these competing visions of Ireland, between the imperialist past as represented by partition and increased subjugation by London and Brussels or the vision of hope and aspiration to a new and better Ireland as represented by the Proclamation of the All-Ireland Republic. Instead of the failed and corrupt Ireland of the Mahon and Moriarty tribunals or the institutional sectarianism of Stormont, 1916 represents an Ireland which guarantees religious and civil liberty and equal opportunities, an Ireland that cherishes ‘all of the children of the nation equally’. We in Republican Sinn Féin have the blueprint for such a New Ireland and it lies in our proposals for federal Ireland, ÉIRE NUA , providing for a truly demcratic and inclusive Ireland with maxium decentralisation of power and decision-making from national, right down to local and community level. Taken together with our social and economic programme SAOL NUA they contain the basis for making the All-Ireland Republic of Pearse and Connolly a reality for all of the Irish people. For Irish Republicans the 1916 Rising is much more than an historical event, it symbolises the highest ideals of human and national freedom. While any part of Ireland remains under British occupation or any vestige of our sovereignty is claimed by an undemocratic European superstate 1916 will remain unfinished business.

“The 1916 Rising represents a spirit of idealism and self-sacrifice that has rarely been more needed than in the present time. The Irish people are held in the grip of two imperialisms. In the Six Counties the old imperialism of British occupation and in the 26 Counties the new imperialism of the EU/IMF. Despite the best efforts of the apologists for British Rule in Stormont, Leinster House and Westminster to portray it otherwise, the reality of British Rule on the ground in the Six Occupied Counties as experienced by the nationalist community has not changed. The nationalist people of Lurgan and Craigavon live under a state of siege from the RUC/PSNI. Arbitrary house raids and arrests are the stock-in-trade of these latter day ‘Black-and-Tans’ as they enforce British Rule on the ground with the active support of the Provos. The revelation on Good Friday that four members of the British Colonial police were being suspended for the use of racist and sectarian language should not surprise anyone. The RUC/PSNI remains an institutionally sectarian force. Changing its name and cap badge does not change the nature of the RUC/PSNI, no more than the changing of the RIC to the RUC did in 1922. In Maghaberry prison young Irish Republican prisoners are locked in a struggle for the same right to political status for which Bobby Sands and his comrades died on hunger strike thirty-one years ago. The fact they have been forced to sustain a dirty protest for more than a year because of the intransigence of the Stormont regime, constitutes a gross violation of even the most basic of human rights. Today we salute the POWs in Maghaberry and pledge them our continued support and also we remember their comrades in Portlaoise prison who too are imprisoned because of their loyalty to the All-Ireland Republic. ‘We love them yet, we can`t forget, the Felons of our Land.’

“In the 26 Counties the political and finiancial elites of the 26 Counties are lining up with their masters in the EU/IMF to sacrifice their own people in order to bail-out the failed and undemocratic EU and its currency. The political elites of Leinster House and the EU have set the tone for the forthcoming referendum on the EU Austerity Treaty by threatening people with the supposed dire consequences of a rejection of the treaty. Fear and intimidation it seems are again to be the employed by the 26-County Administration and the EU as they attempt to steamroll the Irish people into giving away the last vestiges of independence. Off course we have heard it all before during the referenda on the Lisbon and Nice treaties. And on both occasions people were forced to vote again for treaties they had already rejected. The power elites of the EU are not interested in the will of the people but instead are intent on grabbing even more power using the fear of the people. In this they have willing collaborators in the political establishment of the 26-County State.

“Since the first referendum on joining the the then EEC in 1972 Republican Sinn Féin have warned of the consequences for Irish people of becoming entangled in this club of former imperial powers. Unfortunately what we warned of in terms of the consequences for our farming and fishing have been realised with the almost total loss of our fishing industry and the forcing of thousands of our people off the land. Today people are even being denied the right to cut their own turf. We salute and support the communities who are defying the dictats of Brussels in upholding the centuries long tradition of turf cutting in rural Ireland. The people of Ireland are beginning to stir themselves as we can see in the campaigns against the Septic Tank charge - in which our County Councillor here in Co Galway Tomás Ó Curraoin has splayed a leading role –as well as the campaign against the household tax. Again we salute all of those people who refused to be intimidated into registering or paying this unjust tax. It is time we all stood together and fought back, the old and the young, the employed and the unemployed, urban and rural Ireland. On May 31 we can send a clear signal to the political establishments in Leinster House and Brussels that we still believe the right of this and future generations to the ownership and sovereignty of our country by voting No to the Austerity Treaty.

“The attempted Anglicisation of Ireland is being stepped up. Last year we witnessed, at a cost of over €30 million, the visit to the 26 Counties of the Queen of England while this year it was announced that Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann would be used next year to promote the designation of Derry, the historic Doire Cholm Cille as a ‘UK City of Culture’. Irish Republicans would welcome the holding of the Fleadh in Derry but not for the purpose of normalising British Rule. It is evident that the British state is now attempting to co-opt the three strands of a distinct Irish culture, our games, our music and our language in order to prop up British rule in Ireland. It has also been mooted that the Oireachtas festival –celebrating the Irish language – will also be held in Derry next year. In Newry recently the RUC/PSNI held an Irish language public meeting, using the language as a recruiting tool. However former British Secretary of State Peter Hain let ‘the cat out of the bag’ regarding the British governments real attitude to the language. The newspaper Gaelsceal reports Hain as admitting that the promises of an ‘Irish Language Act’ for the Six Counties was off set by moving its ratification from Westminster to Stormont where, Hain proclaimed there would be an ‘inbuilt majority’ against it. The Irish News columnist Patrick Murphy hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that while constitutional nationalism has now fully embraced British rule and thus is drifting from cultural nationalism, which still extols a sense of Irish separateness from Britain, the British Government recognises this: ‘If you were in Whitehall today trying to bed down the latest British victory in Ireland, you would bring cultural nationalism into line with political nationalism. That explains the political pressure to bring the Fleadh to a British government event in Ireland.’

“However in Derry on January 29 this year an alternative message was delivered loud and clear to the political establishments in Stormont, Westminster and Leinster House. People from Derry and throughout Ireland defied the political establishments of partitioned Ireland when they came out on to the streets of Derry to mark the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Three thousand people according to the Irish Times of January 30 made their presence felt in a dignified display of solidarity with the survivors and families of the victims of the British army’s massacre of civil rights marchers in Derry on January 30 1972. Their very presence tells us that the pulse of Irish nationality still beats strong despite the censorship and repression of Britain and its surrogates. Despite everything there remains ‘The risen people who shall take what ye would not give.’

“I can think of no more fitting way to conclude in this sacred place than with the words of Pádraig Mac Piarais. Speaking at the grave of O’Donovan Rossa he warned the occupiers of our country: ‘Rulers and Defenders of Realms had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death: and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and, while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.’”

An Phoblacht Abú

Monday, 19 August 2013

RSF member speaks about James Connolly

James Connolly was born on June 5, 1868, at 107, the Cowgate, Edinburgh. His parents, John
and Mary Connolly, had emigrated to Edinburgh from County Monaghan in the 1850s. His father worked as a manure carter, removing dung from the streets at night, and his mother was a domestic servant who suffered from chronic bronchitis and was to die young from that ailment.

Anti-Irish feeling at the time was so bad that Irish people were forced to live in the slums of the Cowgate and the Grassmarket which became known as ‘Little Ireland’. Overcrowding, poverty, disease, drunkenness and unemployment were rife — the only jobs available was selling second-hand clothes and working as a porter or a carter.

James Connolly went to St Patricks School in the Cowgate, as did his two older brothers, Thomas and John. At ten years of age, James left school and got a job with Edinburgh’s Evening News newspaper, where he worked as a ‘Devil’, cleaning inky rollers and fetching beer and food for the adult workers. His brother Thomas also worked with the same newspaper. In 1882, aged 14, he joined the British Army in which he was to remain for nearly seven years, all of it in Ireland, where he witnessed first hand the terrible treatment of the Irish people at the hands of the British. The mistreatment of the Irish by the British and the landlords led to Connolly forming an intense hatred of the British Army.

While serving in Ireland, he met his future wife, a Protestant named Lillie Reynolds. They were engaged in 1888 and the following years Connolly discharged himself from the British Army and went back to Scotland. In 1890, he and Lillie Reynolds were wed in Perth.

In the Spring of 1890, James and Lillie moved to Edinburgh and lived at 22 West Port, and joined his father and brother working as labourers and then as a manure carter with Edinburgh Corporation, on a strictly temporary and casual basis.

He became active in Socialist and trade union circles and became secretary of the Scottish Socialist Federation, almost by mistake. At the time his brother John was secretary; however, after John spoke at a rally in favour of the eight-hour day he was fired from his job with the corporation, so while he looked for work, James took over as secretary. During this time, Connolly became involved with the Independent Labour Party which Kerr Hardie formed in 1893.

Cobbler’s Shop

In late 1894, Connolly lost his job with the corporation. He opened a cobblers shop in February 1895 at number 73 Bucclevch Street, a business venture which was not successful. At the invitation of the Scottish Socialist, John Leslie, he came to Dublin in May 1896 as paid organiser of the Dublin Socialist Society for £1 a week. James and Lillie Connolly and their three daughters, Nora, Mona and Aideen set sail for Dublin in 1896, where he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party in May of 1896.

In 1898, Connolly had to return to Scotland on a lecture and fund-raising tour. Before he left Ireland, he had founded The Workers’ Republic newspaper, the first Irish Socialist paper, from his house at number 54 Pimlico, where he lived with his wife and three daughters. Six other families, a total of 30 people, also lived in number 54 Pimlico, at the same time!

In 1902, he went on a five month lecture tour of the USA and, on returning to Dublin he found the ISRP existed in name only. He returned to Edinburgh where he worked for the Scottish District of the Social Democratic federation.

He then chaired the inaugural meeting of the Socialist Labour Party in 1903 but, when his party failed to make any headway, Connolly became disillusioned and in September 1903, he emigrated to the US and did not return until July 1910. In the US, he founded the Irish Socialist Federation in New York, and another newspaper, The Harp.

In 1910, he returned to Ireland and in June of the following year he became Belfast organiser for James Larkin’s Irish Transport and General Workers Union. In 1913 he co-founded the Labour Party and in 1914 he organied, with James Larkin, opposition to the Employers Federation in the Great Lock-Out of workers that August. |Larkin travelled to the USA for a lecture tour in late 1914 and James Connolly became the key figure in the Irish Labour movement.

Irish Citizen Army

The previous year, 1913, had also seen Connolly co-found the Irish Citizen Army, at Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the ITGWU, — this organisation, the ICA, was established to defend the rights of the working people. In October 1914, Connolly returned permanently to Dublin and revived the newspaper The Workers’ Republic that December following the suppression of his other newspaper, The Irish Worker.

In The Workers’ Republic newspaper, Connolly published articles on guerrilla warfare and continuously attacked the group known as The Irish Volunteers for their inactivity. This group refused to allow the Irish Citizen Army to have any in-put on its Provisional Committee and had no plans in motion for armed action.

The Irish Volunteers were by this time approximately 180,000 strong and were urged by their leadership to support England in the war against Germany. It should be noted that half of the Provisional Committee of the Irish Volunteers were John Redmonds people, who was the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The Irish Volunteers split, with the majority siding with Redmond and becoming known as the National Volunteers — approximately 11,000 of the membership refused to join Redmond and his people.

However, in February 1915, The Workers’ Republic newspaper was suppressed by the Dublin Castle authorities. Even still, Connolly grew more militant. In January 1916, the Irish Republican Brotherhood had became alarmed by Connollys ICA manoeuvres in Dublin and at Connollys impatience at the apparent lack of preparations for a rising, and the IRB decided to take James Connolly into their confidence. During the following months, he took part in the preparation for a rising and was appointed Military Commander of the Republican Forces in Dublin, including his own Irish Citizen Army.

He was in command of the Republican HQ at the GPO during Easter Week, and was severely wounded. He was arrested and court-martialled following the surrender. On May 9, 1916, James Connolly was propped up in bed before a court-martial and sentenced to die by firing squad — he was at that time being held in the military hospital in Dublin Castle. In a leading article in the Irish Independent on May 10, William Martin Murphy, who had led the employers in the Great Lock-out of workers in 1913, urged the British Government to execute Connolly.

At dawn on May 12, James Connolly was taken by ambulance from Dublin Castle to Kilmainham Jail, carried on a stretcher into the prison yard, strapped into a chair in a corner of the yard and executed by firing- squad. Connollys body, like that of the other 14 executed leaders, was taken to the British military cemetery adjoining Arbour Hill Prison and buried, without coffin in a mass quicklime grave.

The fact that he was one of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation bears evidence of his influence.

As a post script, and on a personal level, I will quote James Connollys words to the Irish Citizen Army on 16 April, 1916.

“The odds are a thousand to one against us, but in the event of victory, hold onto your rifles, as those with whom we are fighting may stop before our goal is reached.”

To those people whom Republican Sinn Féin would consider having “stopped before the goal is reached”, I point out that the fact that James Connolly died on a chair should not be seen to infer that he wanted that chair placed at a table where a compromise would be the outcome.

- John Horan, RSF Átha Cliath

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Hibernian Rifles

When we think of the Easter Rising and the groups who took part in it many of the micro groups are forgotten about. The Irish Volunteers and The Irish Citizen Army tend to garner much of the attention. This is understandable for a couple of reasons.

1) All the signatories of the Irish Proclamation came from both these organizations.

2) The version of our nation’s history espoused by the Free State has left many people and many things that happened written out of our nation’s history.

As republicans it will always be our duty to pass the message and the lessons of the past onto the generations to follow. Groupings such as Clann Maeve, Clan na nGael girl scouts or, and in this instance The Hibernian Rifles have had little or no mention in the years that have passed Easter Week. However at the very successful “Who fears To Speak Of Easter Week” seminar given by the Republican Movement on April 21st last year the name of this group and their involvement in the Rising was alluded to.  Hence the following piece seeks to cast a little more light on a group who has hid in the shadows of history somewhat in the years that have since passed.

Originating from a split in the Ancient Order Of Hibernians (A.O.H.) around 1907, The Hibernian Rifles ultimately became the military wing of the Irish American Alliance (I.A.A.). By December 16th 1914 the groups ideology was illustrated through its Commandant JJ Scollan when he gave a lecture entitled “Treason in Ireland” to members of the Michael Dwyer Sinn Fein cumann. He said the following "Many more of us through God's grace shall live to see the Union Jack of England down in the dust and our own immortal green interwoven with the yellow and white of the Irish Republic waving proudly and victoriously over the land."

Both the ICA and the Irsh Volunteers denied them affiliation to either organization as a unit however. The Irish Volunteers were suspicious of them, with the exception of Thomas MacDonagh. It was more than likely through this connection that they participated in the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa.  They paraded 150 men strong with 50 rifles to hand. They also allowed their HQ on North Frederick Street to be used as a stopover for Irishmen fleeing to England to avoid conscription. Also in this same year British intelligence estimated membership to be approx. 140 men with 25 rifles. By 1915 they began to release a weekly newspaper “the Hibernian”, and in it was serialized 'Ireland's Roll of Honor' - a list of those killed or wounded at Harrel's 'Battle of Clontarf' and Bachelor's Walk, imprisoned, deported or served with exclusion orders under the Defense of the Realm Act.

By Easter 1916 the lack of trust between The Hibernian Rifles and the Irish Volunteers meant that they did not hear of the planned rising, this information would be learned by them through one James Connolly. On Easter Sunday they held a Sunday parade outside their HQ on North Frederick Street and carried out their routine training. They had received no mobilization orders from either Connolly or the I.R.B. military council. After learning of McNeills countermanding order for the Irish Volunteers JJ Scollan ordered the Dublin units of the Hibernian rifles to parade again at midday the following day. That evening Patrick Pearse, his brother William and Thomas Mac Donough met in Number 28 North Frederick Street and sent courier’s with new mobilisation orders to Volunteer companies, however the Hibernian Rifles had still not been informed of the planned Rising.

By Easter Monday JJ Scollan and about sixty members of the Hibernian Rifles again paraded at the hall on North Frederick Street. It was then that Scollan learned about the volunteers seizing the G.P.O. upon this news he remarked “I addressed them and told them that as far as I knew this fight which was just starting was unofficial, but as it had started we should join in and take our place in it.  At the same time I said that if any man did not wish to volunteer for the fight he was at liberty to go home”. By midday Connolly sent word to the Hibernian Rifles to proceed to the G.P.O. The Hibernian Rifles were put under the temporary command of The O’Rahilly who ordered the group to break and barricade all the windows on the upper floors. On Tuesday morning a contingent of Nine Volunteers from Maynooth, arrived at the G.P.O..
JJ Scollan and eighteen riflemen accompanied them downstairs to the armourer’s department where they were issued with home-made tin can grenades by Jim O’Neill a member of the Irish Citizen Army. Connolly addressed the mixed party and instructed them to go towards the Haypenny Bridge. They then occupied the roof of the Exchange Hotel in Parliament Street and barricaded houses immediately around it. The area around City Hall was under British control and the Hibernian Rifles and Volunteers engaged superior numbers of British forces in rooftop sniping. That afternoon groups of the Irish Fusiliers and Enniskilling Fusiliers advanced and prepared to storm the Exchange Hotel.  The attack was repelled with rifle and shotgun fire. From the roof JJ Scollan estimated they had inflicted over twenty serious casualties on the British military forces. During the attack Edward Walsh a member of the Hibernian Rifles sniping from the roofs was shot through the stomach.  The remaining members of the Hibernian Rifles retired back to the G.P.O. and ultimately surrendered on Parnell Street on the 29th of April. Many of the Hibernian Rifles that were arrested were interned in Frongoch internment camp in Wales, among them was Scollan.

In conclusion although they were small in number the Hibernian Rifles should not be forgotten in any celebration of the Rising. The events of Easter 1916 may not have been within their planning but once things begun they willfully joined in. They were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of their country, for this they must never be forgotten.

1913 Lockout

Dublin Metropolitan Police and Royal Irish Constabulary baton-charge crowds on Dublin's O'Connell Street - ‘Bloody Sunday', 31 August 1913.                    
Poverty in Dublin was dire in 1913
One of the major factors which contributed to the ignition of the dispute was the dire circumstances in which the city's poor lived. In 1913, one third of Dublin's population lived in slums. 30,000 families lived in 15,000 tenements. An estimated four million pledges were taken in pawnbrokers every year. The infant mortality rate amongst the poor was 142 per 1,000 births, which was very high for a European nation. The situation was made considerably worse by the high rate of disease in the slums, which was the result of a lack of health care and cramped living conditions, among other things. The most prevalent disease in the Dublin slums at this time was tuberculosis (TB), which spread through tenements very quickly and caused many deaths amongst the poor. A report published in 1912 claimed that TB-related deaths in Ireland were fifty percent higher than in England or Scotland, and that the vast majority of TB-related deaths in Ireland occurred amongst the poorer classes.

Poverty was perpetuated in Dublin by the lack of occupational opportunities for unskilled workers. Prior to the advent of trade unionism in Ireland, unskilled workers lacked any form of representation. Furthermore, there were many more unskilled labourers in Dublin than there were jobs for them. Thus unskilled workers often had to compete with one another for work on a daily basis, the job generally going to whoever agreed to work for the lowest wages.

James Larkin and the formation of the ITGWU

James Larkin, the main protagonist on the side of the workers in the dispute, had a history within the trade union movement. His first experience with trade unionism in Ireland had been in 1907 when he was sent to Belfast as local leader of the British-based National Union of Dock
James Larkin addresses the People.
Labourers (NUDL) after working as a docker in Liverpool. While in Belfast, Larkin organized a strike of dock and transport workers. It was also in Belfast that Larkin developed his tactic of the sympathetic strike, whereby workers who were not directly involved in an industrial dispute with employers would go on strike in support of other workers who were. The Belfast strike was moderately successful and boosted Larkin's standing amongst Irish workers. However, his tactics were highly controversial and as a result Larkin was transferred to Dublin. Unskilled workers in Dublin were very much at the mercy of their employers. Employers who suspected workers of trying to organize could "blacklist" them, practically destroying any chance of future employment. Nevertheless, Larkin set about trying to organize the unskilled workers of Dublin. This was a cause of concern for the NUDL, who were reluctant to engage in a full-scale industrial dispute with Dublin employers. As a result Larkin was suspended from the NUDL in 1908. Larkin then decided to leave the NUDL and set up his own union, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU).

The ITGWU was the first Irish trade union to cater for both skilled and unskilled workers. In the first few months after its establishment it quickly gained popularity, and soon it had spread to other Irish cities. The ITGWU was used as a vehicle for Larkin's syndicalist views. Larkin believed in the bringing about of a socialist revolution by way of the establishment of trade unions and the calling of general strikes. After initially losing several strikes between 1908 and 1910, the ITGWU became more successful after 1911, winning several strikes involving carters and railway workers. Between 1911 and 1913, membership of the ITGWU rose from 4,000 to 10,000. This trend did not go unnoticed by employers, who soon became alarmed by the rise in popularity of the new trade union.

Larkin had also learned much from the progress and results of the Tonypandy Riots and the 1911 Liverpool general transport strike.

James Connolly 

Another important figure in the rise of an organized workers' movement in Ireland at this time
was James Connolly, Edinburgh-born of Irish descent. Connolly, like Larkin, was a talented orator and became known for his speeches on the streets of Dublin, in which he made a case not only for socialism, but also for Irish nationalism. In 1896, Connolly established the Irish Socialist Republican Party, along with the newspaper The Workers' Republic. In 1910 Connolly became involved with the ITGWU, and was appointed as its Belfast organizer in 1911. In 1912 Connolly and Larkin formed the Irish Labour Party, which was intended to represent the workers in the imminent Home Rule Bill debate in Parliament (which, due to the start of World War I was suspended for one year and then indefinitely after the rise of militant nationalism following the 1916 Rising, so it never materialized).

William Martin Murphy and the employers

Foremost among the employers opposed to trade unionism in Ireland was William Martin Murphy. Murphy was a highly successful businessman from Co. Cork. In 1913, he was chairman of the Dublin United Tramway Company and owner of Clery's department store and the Imperial Hotel. He also controlled the Irish Independent, Evening Herald and Irish Catholic newspapers and was a major shareholder in the B&I Line. Murphy was also a prominent nationalist and a former Home Rule MP in Westminster. He was known as a kind and charitable man in his private life. He was regarded as a good employer and his workers received fair wages. Conditions were poor. Employees were forced to work up to 17 hours a day and a harsh discipline regime and informer culture was pursued. Murphy was vehemently opposed to trade unions which he saw as an attempt to impede on his business, and in particular he was opposed to Larkin, whom he saw as a dangerous revolutionary. In July 1913, Murphy presided over a meeting of 300 employers, at which a collective response to the rise of trade unionism was agreed upon. Murphy and the employers were determined not to allow the ITGWU to unionize the Dublin workforce. On 15 August Murphy dismissed forty workers he suspected of ITGWU membership, followed by another 300 over the next week.

Beginning of Strike

On 26 August, workers of the Dublin tram system's Dublin United Tramways Company officially went on strike. Larkin timed the strike to take place in the middle of the Dublin Horse Show held by the Royal Dublin Society, when the inconvenience caused would be greatest and Murphy's business worst affected. At a pre-arranged time, the tram drivers and conductors literally walked off the trams, leaving them unattended. Led by Murphy, over four hundred of the city's employers retaliated by requiring their workers to sign a pledge not to be a member of the ITGWU and not to engage in sympathetic strikes.


The resulting industrial dispute was the most severe in Ireland's history. Employers in Dublin
engaged in a lockout of their workers, employing blackleg labour from Britain and elsewhere in Ireland. Dublin's workers, amongst the poorest in the United Kingdom, were forced to survive on £150,000 from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and other sources in Ireland, doled out dutifully by the ITGWU. A scheme whereby the children of Irish strikers would be temporarily looked after by British trade unionists was blocked by the Roman Catholic Church, who protested that Catholic children would be subject to Protestant or atheist influences when in Britain. The Church supported the employers during the dispute, condemning Larkin as a socialist revolutionary.

Notably, Guinness, the largest employer and biggest exporter in Dublin, refused to lock out its workforce. It had a policy against sympathetic strikes; while it refused to join Murphy's group it sent £500 to the employers' fund. In turn, it expected its workers not to strike in sympathy, and 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.

The strikers used mass pickets and intimidation against strike breakers and the Dublin Metropolitan Police in turn baton charged worker's rallies. The DMP's attack on a union rally on Sackville Street (now known as O'Connell Street) in August 1913 caused the deaths of two workers, James Nolan and John Byrne, and hundreds more were injured. This was provoked by the illegal appearance of James Larkin to speak out for the workers. It is still known in the Irish Labour movement as "Bloody Sunday" (despite two subsequent days in 20th century Ireland that are also described in this way). Another worker, Alice Brady, was later shot dead by a strike breaker while bringing home a food parcel from the union office while Michael Byrne, an ITGWU official from Dún Laoghaire died shortly after being tortured in a police cell. In response, Larkin, his deputy James Connolly, and ex-British Army Captain Jack White formed a worker's militia named the Irish Citizen Army to protect workers' demonstrations.

For seven months the lockout affected tens of thousands of Dublin's workers and their families, with Larkin portrayed as the villain by Murphy's three main newspapers, the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent, and the Evening Herald. Other leaders in the ITGWU at the time were James Connolly and William X. O'Brien, while influential figures such as Patrick Pearse, Countess Markievicz and William Butler Yeats supported the workers in the generally anti-Larkin media.

End of the Lockout 

James Larkin Monument, O'Connell Street, Dublin City
The lockout eventually concluded in early 1914 when the calls for a sympathetic strike in Britain from Larkin and Connolly were rejected by the TUC. Most workers, many of whom were on the brink of starvation, went back to work and signed pledges not to join a union. The ITGWU was badly damaged by its defeat in the Lockout, and was further hit by the departure of Larkin to the United States in 1914 and the execution of Connolly for his part in the nationalist Easter Rising in 1916. However, the union was re-built by William O'Brien and Thomas Johnson and by 1919 its membership had surpassed that of 1913.

Although the actions of the ITGWU and the smaller UBLU were unsuccessful in achieving substantially better pay and conditions for the workers, they marked a watershed in Irish labour history. The principle of union action and workers' solidarity had been firmly established; no future employer would ever try to "break" a union in the way that Murphy attempted with the ITGWU. The lockout itself had been damaging to commercial businesses in Dublin, with many forced to declare bankruptcy.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Unbroken Continuity - 1916 Present Day


GPO after the Rising
It was around noon on Easter Monday 24 April 1916, that the 32 County Irish Republic was Proclaimed on the steps of the Dublin GPO by its provisional President Pádraig Pearse.

The Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army aided by smaller groups such as the Hibernian Rifles had joined together under the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the main driving force behind the Rising.

The Rising was suppressed.  Despite overwhelming odds the Republic had as Pádraig Pearse later said in a statement to a secret military tribunal “made for six days a stand unparalleled in military history.”

England who was then fighting a war on its Eastern flank took ruthless action.  From May 3rd, 1916 fifteen leaders were executed including the seven Signatories of the Proclamation.
Despite the Rising being unpopular amongst the People the executions were a miscalculation of immense proportions on behalf of the English and had proved a catalyst in arousing the spirit of the Irish people in adopting the Republican standard.


In 1918 the British called a General Election. The whole of Ireland was at that time still a part of
the 'United Kingdom'.  (Republican) Sinn Féin stood in that election on the basis that, if elected, they would not send their representatives to a British parliament, but would establish an independent parliament in Ireland.

A sitting of the First Dáil
Winning the support of a majority of the Irish people, the Sinn Féin TD's met in Dublin and established the First Dail.  It should be noted that the actual number of votes for Sinn Féin in the general election belied the full support enjoyed by the Republicans, since in one quarter of the constituencies Sinn Féin candidates were opposed by other parties, because of the futility of denying the massive support Sinn Féin enjoyed, and were awarded the seats without a vote.

The First Dail Eireann was "illegal".  But whose law was being quoted?  The Irish people had overwhelmingly backed Sinn Féin who had openly announced their intentions before the elections. Throughout this time the Dail operated unevenly.  It enjoyed success in the Republican courts which, in areas, were able to gain the confidence of the people and drew support away from the judicial pillar of the British State.  It was also successful in establishing a Republican police force and establishing a local government structure. Of course it was a difficult to operate this time as the two parallel States, the Republican and British, competed for support and the armies of the two States were at war.


Shelling of the Four Courts by the
Free State on orders of the English.
A Truce was called in 1921 and a period of negotiations began. These culminated on December 6, 1921 when the "Treaty" was signed by the Irish delegation in London. The Treaty set out that an "Irish Free State" would exist covering 26 counties.

The Treaty was an acceptance of the British-imposed partition of Ireland into separate States in the 1920 Government of Ireland Act and a betrayal of the all Ireland Republic endorsed by the Irish people in two general elections, in 1918 and 1921.

In Dílseact: The Story of General Tom Maguire and the Second (All-Ireland) Dail, Ruairí Ó Bradaigh wrote: "Griffith was elected President of Dail Éireann (the Government of the Irish Republic) on January 10, 1922.  Two days later in his capacity as Chairman of the Delegation to London which signed the Treaty he summoned a meeting of the 'Parliament of Southern Ireland' for January 14.  This was a partitionist body for 26 counties only, created by the British Government of Ireland Act of 1920 which was rejected by the people in May 1921 when they elected their deputies to the All-Ireland Dail.  Griffith was head of Dail Éireann and yet he called into existence a rival parliament, surely an action without precedent in history."

Likewise Mulcahy in the very last words spoken in the Dail on January 10 said: "It is suggested that I avoided saying the Army will continue to be the Army of the Irish Republic.  If any assurance is required the Army will remain the Army of the Irish Republic". (Applause) "In the name of the Republic was the Republic betrayed..."

Earlier that day Griffith had said "The Republic of Ireland remains in place until the Free State comes into being ... Whatever position the President (De Valera) occupied, if I am elected I will occupy the same until the people have the opportunity of deciding for themselves .... If I am elected I will keep the Republic in being until after the Free State is established when the people can decide for and against.... I want the Republic kept in being until the people can have a free election and give their votes ". There were express undertakings to maintain the Republic, yet these means subsequent actions totally belied their words.
Second All-Ireland Dáil Éireann,
elected in 1921 and never dissolved.

The IRA fought a civil war against the new Free State army but eventually had to end hostilities. They did this by dumping their arms, they did not surrender!  For Republicans the legitimate government of Ireland continued to be the Second (All-Ireland) Dail, the Government of the All-Ireland Republic.

The Second Dail continued to function in the shadows, largely ignored, until December 8, 1938 when it passed on its powers as the Government of the Republic of Ireland to the Army Council of the IRA.


In a statement on December 8, 1938 the surviving members of the Second Dail announced the Decision:

"Dail Eireann In consequence of armed opposition ordered and sustained by England, and the defection of elected representatives of the people over the period since the Republican Proclamation of Easter 1916 was ratified, three years later, by the newly inaugurated Government of the Irish Republic, we hereby delegate the authority reposed in us to the Army Council, in the spirit of the decision taken by Dail Eireann in the spring of 1921, and later endorsed by the Second Dail.

In thus transferring the trust of which it has been our privilege to be the custodians for twenty years, we earnestly exhort all citizens and friends of the Irish Republic at home and abroad to dissociate themselves openly and absolutely from England's unending aggression's and we urge on them to disregard England's recurring war scares, remembering that our ancient and insular nation, bounded entirely by the seas, has infinitely less reason to become involved in the conflicts now so much threatened than have the neutral small nations lying between England and the Power she desires to overthrow.

Confident, in delegating this sacred trust to the Army of the Republic that, in their every action towards its consummation, they will be inspired by the high ideals and the chivalry of our martyred comrades, we, as Executive Council of Dail Eireann, Government of the Republic, append our names.

Sean O Ceallaigh - Ceann Comhairle,
George Count Plunkett,
Professor William Stockley,
Mary Mac Swiney,
Brian O hUiginn,
Tom Maguire,
Cathal O Murchadha.”


In December, 1969, following a split in the Republican Movement over the issue of the recognition of and participation in the Partition and Westminster parliaments, Thomas Maguire, as the sole surviving member of the Executive of the Second Dail Eireann recognised the Provisional Army Council, which remained true to the Irish Republic as the lawful Army of the Thirty-two County Irish Republic.

In a statement dated December 31, 1969 Thomas Maguire said: 
An IRA convention, held in December 1969, by a majority of the delegates attending, passed a resolution removing all embargoes on political participation in parliament from the Constitution and Rules of the IRA.

The effect of the resolution is the abandonment of what is popularly termed the "Abstentionist Policy”.  The “Abstentionist Policy" means that the Republican candidates contesting parliamentary elections in Leinster House, Stormont or Westminster give pre-election pledges not to take seats in any of those parliaments.  The Republican candidates seek election to the 32-county Parliament of the Irish Republic, the Republican Dail or Dail Eireann, to give it its official title he declared objective is to elect sufficient representatives to enable the 32-County Dail Eireann to be reassembled. 

 In December 1938, the surviving faithful members of the latest 32-county Republican parliament, the Second Dail, elected in 1921, delegated their executive powers of government to the Army Council of the IRA.  This proclamation of 1938 was signed by Sean O Ceallaigh, Ceann Comhairle, George Count Plunkett, Professor William Stockley, Mary Mac Swiney, Brian O hUiginn, Cathal O Murchadha and myself Tomas Maguire.

The majority of the delegates at the December, 1969, IRA Convention, having passed the resolution referred to above, proceeded to elect an Executive which in turn appointed a new Army Council, committed to implement the resolution. 

That convention had neither the right nor the authority to pass such a resolution. 
Accordingly, I, as the sole surviving member of the Executive of Dail Eireann, and the sole surviving signatory of the 1938 Proclamation, hereby declare that the resolution is illegal and that the alleged Executive and Army Council are illegal, and have no right to claim the allegiance of either soldiers or citizens of the Irish Republic.

The delegates who opposed the resolution, together with delegates from units which were not represented at the Convention, met subsequently in Convention and repudiated the resolution. They re-affirmed their allegiance to the Republic and elected a Provisional Executive which in turn appointed a Provisional Army Council.

I hereby further declare that the Provisional Executive and the Provisional Army Council are the lawful Executive and Army Council respectively of the IRA and that the governmental authority delegated in the Proclamation of 1938 now resides in the Provisional Army Council and its lawful successors. I fully endorse their call for support for Irish people everywhere towards the realisation of the full freedom of Ireland. 

Dated the 31st of December, 1969. 
Signed: Thomas Maguire, 
Comdt. Gen. Tomas Mac Uidhir.


In 1986 there was another split in the Republican Movement and again it was over the issue of recognition of a partitionist assembly, in this case the 26-County Parliament, Leinster House.
In a statement dated October 22nd 1986 Thomas Maguire wrote: 

There is no difference between entering the partition parliament of Leinster House and entering a partition parliament of Stormont. 

I speak as the sole surviving Teachta Dala of the Second Dail Eireann and as the sole surviving member of the Executive of the Second Dail Eireann. 

In December, 1969, as the sole surviving member of the Executive of the Second Dail Eireann, I recognised the Provisional Army Council, which remained true to the Irish Republic as the lawful Army of the Thirty-two County Irish Republic. 

I do not recognise the legitimacy of any Army Council styling itself the Army Council of the Irish Republican Army which lends support to any person or organisation styling itself as Sinn Féin and prepared to enter the partition parliament of Leinster House. 

The majority of delegates to a recent IRA convention purported to accept the Leinster House partition parliament, and in so doing broke faith and betrayed the trust placed in their predecessors in 1969. 

The Irish Republic, proclaimed in arms in Easter Week 1916 and established by the democratic majority vote of the people in the General Election of 1918, has been defended by Irish Republicans for several generations.

Many have laid down their lives in that defence.  Many others have suffered imprisonment and torture.  I am confident the Cause so nobly served will yet triumph.  "If but a few are faithful found, they must be all the more steadfast for being but a few" (Terence Mac Swiney, Principles of Freedom).   

Dated the 22nd day of October, 1986. 
Signed: Thomas Maguire 
Tomas Maguidhir Comdt. General.


On the 25th of July 1987 Thomas Maguire issued another statement declaring the Continuity Army Council of the Irish Republican Army as the lawful Army and Council of the Thirty Two County Irish Republic.  It was sent from the Irish Republican Publicity Bureau to SAOIRSE:  Irish Freedom.  It was effectively Comdt. General Tom Maguires last political will and testament.

1994 - Full Military Honours by the IRA
for Comdt. General Tom Maguire.
I refer to my statement, dated 22nd of October, 1986, and I speak again, as the sole surviving Teachta Dala of the Second Dail Éireann, and the sole surviving member of the Executive of the Second Dail. 

In that statement, I referred to my recognition in December, 1969, of the Provisional Army Council of the IRA, which had remained true to the Irish Republic, as the lawful Army of the Thirty Two County Irish Republic. 

I also stated on 22nd October, 1986, that I did not recognise the legitimacy of an Army Council, styling itself the Army Council of the Irish Republican Army, which lent support to any person or organisation styling itself Sinn Féin, and prepared to enter the partition parliament of Leinster House. 

I referred, as well, to the IRA Convention, which had taken place shortly before the 22nd October, 1986.  The Executive of the IRA had, by a majority, opposed entering Leinster House.  The faithful members of that Executive, in accordance with the IRA Constitution, filled the vacancies in the Executive, and that Executive continues as the lawful Executive of the Irish Republican Army.  The Continuity Executive has appointed an Army council of the IRA.  I quote the following extract from my statement of 31st December 1969: 

'In December, 1938, the surviving faithful members of the latest 32 County Republican Parliament, the Second Dail elected in 1921, delegated their executive powers of government to the Army Council of the IRA.  This Proclamation of 1938 was signed by S.S. O Ceallaigh (Sceilg), Ceann Comhairle, Mary Mac Swiney, Count Plunkett, Cathal O Murchu, Brian O'Higgins, Professor Stockley, and myself, Tomas Maguire'.  

I hereby declare that the Continuity Executive and the Continuity Army Council are the lawful Executive and Army Council respectively of the Irish Republican Army, and that the governmental authority, delegated in the Proclamation of 1938, now resides in the Continuity Army Council, and its lawful successors.

‘Dated the 25th day of July 1987
Signed: Thomas Maguire
Tomás Maguidhir 
Comdt. General.’