Ag Cearnóg Pharneil, Gáirdín Cuimneacháin

Bhí léirsiú ollmhór ar son ceart na mban  roghnaithe ginnmhilleadh agus go baileach ar son Leasúchan Bunreachta a hOcht a chur ar ceal.  Thosaigh an mórshiúil ag Gáirdín Cuimhneacháin, Baile Átha Cliath, agus chríochnaigh ag Cearnóg Mhuirfean, in aice le cúl doras na Dála.

Ba dheacair an líon a thomhais ach bhí sé an-mhór. Ní raibh mórán Gardaí i láthair agus ní raibh aon chíréib ná rud ar bith mar é go dtí gur sroicheadh ceann scríbe (d’fhágas go luath ina dhiaidh sin).

Trasnu droichead
Part of the march is on the north quay while another section crosses Talbot Memorial Bridge and the remaining section has turned left and is marching along the north side.

Ach b’ait an bealach a thógadar: Sr. Uí Chonaill, Cé Éidin, trasna Droichead Cuimhneacháin an Talbóidigh, ar aghaidh ar an dtaobh ó dheas ar Cé na Cathrach, suas Sráid Lombaird agus Rae an Iarthair go Cearnóg Mhuirfeann ag an gcúinne agus thart trí thaobh na Cearnóige — faoi mar go rabhadar ag iarraidh an bac ba lú a chur ar an dtrácht.

Repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution was a central demand of the demonstration.

In 1983, the 8th Amendment inserted a new sub-section after section 3 of Article 40 of the Bunreacht (Constitution) of the State.  As a result Article 40.3.3° reads:

“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Ag teacht isteach ar thaobh dheis Chearnóg Mhuirfeann (tabhair faoi deara an placárd i nGaeilge sa lár taobh láimhe deise)
Ag teacht isteach ar thaobh dheis Chearnóg Mhuirfeann (tabhair faoi deara an placárd i nGaeilge sa lár taobh láimhe deise)

The amendment had been proposed by the Haughey Fianna Fáil Government but actually brought into law by the subsequent Fine Gael/Labour Party Government in 1983.  As it was a Constitutional change, a referendum was required and it was passed by a majority of close to two to one.

Over the years since then a number of changes have taken place in Irish public opinion and the Irish Catholic Church has lost much of its influence.  In addition, a number of scandals relating to women refused abortion have also received prominent media coverage, particularly in recent years, including one fatality.  Opinion polls on abortion in Ireland now show a majority in favour of greater access and a fast-growing minority in favour of unfettered right to abortion.  However, none of the major political parties. i.e. those with elected representatives in double figures, currently proposes to recommend the repealing of the 8th Amendment.

Mná ó Asturias ag tacú leis an léirsiú
Mná ó Asturias ag tacú leis an léirsiú

Statistics showed that 4,149 Irish women had abortions in Britain in 2011 and other statistics show that 7,000 women travelled abroad that year in order to obtain an abortion.


a chríoch



Diarmuid Breatnach

  A Palestinian speaker recounted ten years of success in the BDS campaign against the Israeli Zionist State and asked people to continue with it and, if possible, to step it up.

Riya Hassan addressed a crowd at the Pearse Centre in Dublin’s Pearse Street, just off Dublin City Centre, on Wednesday night. She spoke about the history of the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli state and the ten-year history of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, explaining its origins in Palestinian society and charting its growth and successes. The three basic aims of the BDS campaign are to pressure Israel to end the colonisation and occupation of Palestinian land, to give equal rights to Arab-Palestinians citizens in the Israeli state and to agree to the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.

Riya Hassan
Riya Hassan
Section of the crowd at the public mee
Section of the crowd at the public mee

Riyah Hassan is European Coordinator of the BDS campaign, herself a Palestinian and, as she later explained when talking about the Israeli destruction of villages in the Negev, from near that area herself. Talking about the current refugee crisis in Europe, she pointed out that many of the refugees taking to sea in what she termed “death boats” (echoes of our own “coffin ships” during the Great Hunger) are in fact Palestinians. They are from refugee camps in Syria and are being made refugees for the second, third or even fourth time.

Speaking on the Palestinian refugee issue, a huge and outstanding one since 1948, Riya Hassan mentioned that their right to return home had been surrendered by the negotiators of the “peace process” at Oslo in the 1980s but that Palestinian society had not accepted this abandonment, whether in Israel, the occupied territory or in the refugee camps elsewhere.

Among a list of successes of the BDS campaign, Riya Hassan mentioned Veolia, a company which had been setting up the transport networks between settlements helping to carve up Palestine, had lost millions due to BDS – as a result, the company has pulled out of Israel (Veolia, by the way, runs the LUAS trams in Dublin). G4 Security, which runs surveillance on Israeli prisons, where there are currently well over 6,000 Palestinian prisoners, have said that they will pull out in 2017 but Riya said they should pull out now and called for pressure to be increased upon them. Another target should be our own Government, which has spent €14.7 million worth of arms and military components from Israel over the last decade (while Irish-based companies have exported €6.42m worth of military and ‘dual use’ hardware to Israel over the past five years). Riya reminded us of the complicity in murder entailed in buying equipment from the Israeli arms industry – an industry which boasts as a marketing point that its deadly equipment is “field tested”!

Among the measures of the impact of the BDS campaign on Israel and abroad, the audience were told that Netanyahu in addressing the recent AIPAC conference in the USA had given a quarter of his speech to attacking the BDS campaign and campaigners, in contrast to the early days when Zionists tended to dismiss the campaign as insignificant. More extraordinarily, perhaps, Hillary Clinton has given a promise, as part of her campaign for the Presidency of the USA, to do what she could against BDS.

Riya Hassan, BDS Europe Coordinator with Martin O'Quigley, Chairperson IPSC and who chaired the meeting
Riya Hassan, BDS Europe Coordinator with Martin O’Quigley, Chairperson IPSC and who chaired the meeting

Riya Hassan is eloquent, with excellent command of English and spoke clearly and confidently. If anything, she spoke for too long overall. It is hard for a visitor to judge what a typical Irish audience might know or what our cultural expectations are but the room was warm and after about 45 minutes one could hear some people shifting in their seats, a situation that did not improve as the talk extended well past the hour.

However, when the Chair of the meeting turned to the audience, it did not seem that anyone had missed an opportunity to ask questions or to comment and some even took several bites of the cherry.

As chair of the meeting (and of the IPSC) Martin Quigley drew the meeting to an end, he announced a boycott action of Tesco supermarkets for this Saturday and, for those in Dublin, asked them to meet at the IPSC office at 12 noon.

IPSC staff at the event
IPSC stall at the event

Riyah Hassan sets off over the next few days for Belfast and Cork before leaving our shores again and we wish go néirí an bóthair léithe!



A few hundred people turned out to “welcome” the Irish Government Ministers and supporting TDs (elected members) back to the Dáil after the summer recess of the Irish parliament. The protesters were not allowed within fifty yards of the main gates, with lines of Gardaí, the Irish national police force, standing behind the special new double barriers which they now employ here. Kildare Street, the address of the Dáil, was closed by Gardaí to pedestrian and motor traffic and public transport buses using that street as part of their regular routes had to be re-routed.

Gardai front of Dáil

Gardai Kildare St north

There was a special focus among many of the protesters on the housing crisis in Dublin with a number of organisations working with or campaigning for the homeless present and a number of placards drawing attention to the issue.

Some protesters had met at 4pm at the GPO in Dublin’s O’Connell Street and had marched to the Dáil from there, while others had arrived at the Dáil itself from 5pm onwards. There were others  demonstrating too in Merrion Street, on the other side of the Dáil complex.

Around the other side, in Merrion Street, I met some protesters coming away from the protest there and stopped to talk to them. They informed me that it was ending there and I returned along Nasseau Street to Molesworth Street.

Among others, schoolchildren lean on the barrier which facing the Dáil, the Irish Parlia
Among others, schoolchildren lean on the barrier which facing the Dáil, the Irish Parlia

When I started up Dawson Street I saw a small march coming down towards me. These were clearly the remainder of those who had been in Merrion Street earlier. Among this section were young mothers and some of their children had notes attached to their chests, for example “I am five and I am homeless”. I joined this group for the short walk remaining in Dawson Street and into Molesworth Street.
Small crowd
Speeches were still going on there and it seemed a musician or singer would have made a nice change – or even a comedian, or a juggler. After a short while the speeches ended and the crowd began to disperse, at which point I approached the women I had been told were homeless and spoke to one. Shortly after, I left to buy a cup of coffee and start an article about that homeless woman and her children.



Diarmuid Breatnach


The French Government deny rumours of a relaxation in their policy of dispersal. The Spanish Government confirms it is business as before for Basque political prisoners.

On 3rd September French diplomatic sources refuted interpretations in some media that it had changed its position with regard to Basque political prisoners. The media interpretations had been built upon a statement by the Abertzale (Basque Patriotic) Left party Sortu, that it had met on July 8th with the French Minister of Justice. The diplomatic sources downplayed the significance of the meeting and denied bringing Basque political prisoners closer to the Basque Country. Etxerat, the organisation for relatives and friends of the prisoners, confirmed that there had been no move to moderate the dispersal.

The day previous to the release of information from French diplomatic sources, on Wednesday, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira had met with her Spanish counterpart, Rafael Catala. The following day, Taubira said her Government’s approach is to analyse requests for transfer based on the length of the sentence and relocation near their family. Meanwhile, the Spanish Minister of Justice and the Interior reiterated his Government’s position that any individual prisoners’ transfer to a jail in the Basque Country required the prisoners to renounce their organisation and to accept responsibility for the damage caused by their action.

The French approach contrasts with the requirements of the Spanish Government, although Catalá reiterated yesterday that both states were acting in a “coordinated” manner and that the French Government “has not moved its policy by one iota .”

According to Etxerat on Thursday, of the nearly 100 Basque political prisoners in French prisons, only two are in Mont de Marsans prison (152 kilometers from the Basque city of Donosti), while six prisoners are in Lannemezen (231 kilometers). The rest are serving out their sentences at a greater distance from home, the vast majority at more than 600 kilometers. Although the support organisation viewed the French Minister’s statement positively, it was also at pains to disabuse people of any belief in a change in the French dispersal of prisoners and stated that any prisoners brought nearer were merely as a result of movement to which the relatives and friends have become accustomed, “bringing them close” before “bringing them far away again.”

Map of the dispersal of Basque political prisoners across both states and Etxerat picket
Map of the dispersal of Basque political prisoners across both states and Etxerat flag in a poster calling for a protest and solidarity demonstration some years ago

The organisation of relatives and friends of Basque political prisoners stated that neither they nor any prisoners’ relatives participated in any meeting with the French Ministry of Justice – any meeting was with several members of Sortu only.

Spokespersons for the party of the Patriotic Left, Sortu, indicated that at their July meeting the French Ministry had been represented by Alain Christnach, Taubira’s Chief of Staff. Meanwhile the French, through diplomatic sources, asked observers not to “over-interpret” this meeting and indicated that participation in the meeting does not mean accepting Sortu’s proposals.

Another issue discussed by the Spanish and French Ministers was the possible transfer of prisoners under the law of mutual recognition of penal sentences in the EU, in force since January. This legislation provides the possibility for prisoners serving sentences in any EU Member state to be transferred to a Spanish prison; however, most Basque prisoners are unlikely to avail of this provision due to harder treatment in the Spanish prison system and the fact that dispersal throughout the state continues.

In a different aspect of the same legislation, the MEP of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), Izaskun Bilbao, asked the European Commission whether it will take Spain before the European Court of Justice for failure to take account of sentences served in French prisons by Basque political prisoners. This is because of the fact that the Spanish state often waits until a prisoner has served his sentence in France before extraditing him on a Spanish charge to face a further sentence in Spanish prisons.

Policy of dispersal of political prisoners — an abuse of human rights

There are many issues raised with regard to Basque political prisoners but the most universal one is the simple fact of dispersal. Relatives and friends face journeys of hundreds or even thousands of kilometers to visit their loved ones and the same distance back again. Many of these journeys are impossible without overnight stays. The expense drains financial resources while the long journeys themselves drain energy and, for elderly or unwell relatives, are an impossibility. An average of one serious accident a month occurs on these journeys for Basque political prisoners’ visitors and twelve have died in crashes over the years. Nor is it unknown for the relatives to be harassed by police on their journey or attacked by Spanish civilian fascists. As Etxerat has stated in its monthly reports and in a number of other statements: “The sentence was supposed to be on the prisoner but in actual fact was served on us as well, although we have been accused of nothing.”

It is a well-established principle of human rights that prisoners should, as far as possible, serve their sentences in a prison close to their families and relatives. This is in recognition of the rights of families as well as the desirability of easing the reintegration of prisoners as much as possible into society. The principle is covered in a number of United Nations policy paragraphs and also within the EU’s model rules for prisoners adopted in 2006 (https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=955747).

Since both the French and Spanish states’ policy of dispersal appears to be in clear violation of the prisoners’ and relatives’ human rights and indeed of the EU’s own model rules for prisoners, some observers find it somewhat perplexing that the relatives’ organisation does not take a case against the states to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Granted, Strasbourg’s controversial decision on the Spanish State’s banning of the Herri Batasuna political party did not go in the Basques’ favour and the Court, albeit instructing the Spanish state to pay compensation to Basques for not investigating their claims of torture, continues to show a reluctance to find the Spanish State  guilty of actual torture. But the dispersal of prisoners is an observable and undeniable fact and, furthermore, one which has been confirmed in public statements by Government ministers of both states.


End item

(Main source on the various statements: Deia, 4th September 2015)


Diarmuid Breatnach

Around 6am I awoke, still half in the script and trying to figure a way to win through. But not for long, as I was driven stumbling by the urea imperative – I had to go to the toilet. In the hallway I switched on the light, still thinking about the situation I had been in and, turning into what I thought was the open doorway, immediately stubbed my toe and nearly my nose on the door. After suitable curses, I stood in front of the enamel directing the hose while I thought about the damned situation.

I had debts. And there was a gang …. or gangs … and I was kind of in one of them and the big boss was putting the squeeze on me. Now, in my other life, the waking one, I’ve never really been in a gang, not even in my teens, although that’s not to say I didn’t have anything to do with them. I did – running from them, hiding from them, sometimes fighting and (of course) getting beaten up by them.

My social class set, the lower middle class, didn’t have gangs. The working class had them and curiously, the upper middle class had them too. The Geldoff types (he was from my home town). And since I didn’t usually have money to go to dances and discos, the dangerous times in my hometown were mostly daytime. The Geldoff types hung out in the Bamboo café across the road from Murray’s record shop, where us gangless lower middle class hung out. And the working class had no café or record shop, just their areas – the ‘Noggin, York Road ….

They weren’t anything like the legendary Ringsend or Dolphin’s Barn, but they were tough enough in my book. Ringsend lads came to the Top Hat Ballroom in my hometown once to settle a score and chased the locals all the way up to the ‘Noggin and the Farm, over a mile away. Local folklore had it that as they queued up in Ringsend earlier that evening to get into taxis for the foray, old dockers had handed each youth a docker’s hook.

There were times when walking down the main street in Dún Laoghaire had felt like something out of High Noon or some other western film, when the hero doesn’t want to go out in the street, he knows death is waiting there – but he has to. In his case, it was duty or some kind of fatalism sending him out there. In my case, it was fear of isolation. I didn’t want to end up cut off from my contemporaries – the boys and, yes, especially the girls. Where they hung out, I would have to go. Of course death wasn’t waiting for me, unless it were accidental …. only a beating.

Anyway, I deviate. Which doesn’t make me a deviant, by the way ….. Anyway, back to the script.

One of the things I was being pressured about had to do with promoting the gang leader’s mice. Yes, mice. Don’t ask me – I didn’t write the script.

For some reason the boss’ mice needed to be distributed, to take over everywhere. And one of the places Big Al wanted his mice installed was in a closed down fairground. It was in my area, so of course Big Al thought it was my responsibility to do it.

Big Al, photo taken during one of his philosophical debates
Big Al, photo taken during one of his philosophical debates

The thing is, that abandoned fairground already had mice, as I tried to tell Big Al. I’d hardly ever actually seen one but you could hear them, rustling, scratching and sometimes squeaking as they fought.

Big Al wasn’t interested. Were they HIS mice?

Well, no ….

Well, didn’t I see the problem?

I nodded. I could see I had a problem and I’d have a worse one if I didn’t do as he wanted.

Big Al’s mice arrived next day delivered by motorbike courier, in a plastic bag. Yeah, I know … but remember — I’m not the script writer.

I took some of the mice out. They were sleek, strong, well-fed, pinky-white mice. I carried the bag to the empty fair ground and let some of them out, to see how they got on. They scurried eagerly down lots of holes and there was suddenly a lot of squeaking underground. Then silence.

After a while, one came back, mauled and bloody. I waited but no others arrived. I put the rest of Al’s mice on the ground so they could avenge their mates. I had no choice, unless I wanted to tell Big Al I had disobeyed his instructions.

Those mice knew what was waiting for them and not a single one went down any hole. They milled around above ground. Then they found an unopened can of beer left by some inebriated street drinker, bit through into it …. and proceeded to get really, really drunk.

Some of Al's mice before they discovered the beer can
Some of Al’s mice before they discovered the beer can

They were still drunk when Big Al dropped by to see how his mouse colonising was progressing.

“What the fuck is going on?” Big Al and his bodyguard were looking in amazement at his carousing, stumbling mice.

I told him what had happened. He shook his head, muttered something, shook his head again, then went off grumbling to get some more mice – maybe Super-mice, or Ninja Mice, or something.

I knew the drunken mice would be history. If a cat or a kestrel didn’t get them …. well, Big Al had a low tolerance for failure. I should have felt sorry for them …. and I kind of did … but also a kind of contempt. The fairground mice had lived a hard life, braving flood and ice, finding what food they could, breeding, tunneling, avoiding alley cats, kestrels …

Big Al’s mice had been fed high-protein diets, reared in secure environments, built up muscle, each probably outweighed the biggest fairground mouse by a couple of ounces. But those scruffy, lean, dirty mice had finished off the advance guard of Al’s mice in minutes. And the rest? Didn’t even have the courage to make a fight of it but went and got drunk instead!

I left them to it. Al would be back and he’d probably want to supervise the operation against the Fairground Mice himself. That was fine with me. I didn’t like the job and I secretly wished the native mice well.

Anyway, I had other problems to deal with. I still had to organise my area for Big Al’s other operations – or else. I didn’t know exactly what the “else” might be and truth to tell, I didn’t even want to think about it.



In the end, I couldn’t do it. I could fool myself that I could manage the area for Al in a more decent way than somebody else working for him …. maybe. But I would still have to become too much like Al himself to do it. So, one alternative only – get out, go on the run and hope Big Al or his goons couldn’t find me. I didn’t even know where I was going to go – just out.

In my benighted life, I had one bit of success.

I ducked into a shop and got to use their phone. That’s right, no mobiles – maybe this script was set in the 1980s …. Not that I remember seeing big hair, shoulder pads or baggy trousers …

Anyway, I phoned up the electric phone company and got to speak to the Area Manager about my bill …. yes, the actual Area Manager! I told him I was going out of business and after a little haggling he agreed to accept 20% of the bill in payment and to wipe the slate clean.

Then I phoned my cousin, also my best friend and told him I was getting out. He was disappointed in me. Really, really disappointed. I could imagine him shaking his head.

“What about community organisation, man?” he asked.

“I can’t do it, Mort. Big Al is too much to go up against.”

“I can’t believe it – and you from a long line of trade union organisers.”

That got to me because, in the script, it was true. My Da had been a union organiser most of his life. My Ma too. And one of my Grandas as well. Strikes, union meetings, pickets, marches, police stations and courthouses had been a part of my childhood, almost as much as school throughout the year and the seaside in summer.

In real life, of course, my Da had been many things but never a trade union organiser. Active trade union member, yes – organiser, no. And my Ma – well, maybe if there had been a Housewife’s Union …. she would have probably been the General Secretary.

Anyway, in the script, Mort shamed me. And talked some more. And I argued. And he put forward a plan.

For some reason, this plan, which of course required community organising, needed a public appeal by television. Mort said I should do it. I told him I couldn’t – I’d freeze on camera and anyway I was too closely involved. I begged him to nominate someone else. He thought for a little while.

“Ok, but you have to go with whoever I choose – no backing out.”

“Sure! Thanks!” I gulped, relief flooding me.

His next words ejected that relief right out again.

“Ask your Ma.”

After I recovered from the shock and hung up, I went to see Ma. This was Ma in the script and nothing like the Ma I had in the real life, the one who was born in the Basque Country and spoke English with a German accent, because her Da had been a German.

And this script Ma was easy-going, unruffled …. Still, she took some persuading before she agreed. And while she was getting ready for her TV appearance – having her hair done, rehearsing her appeal, buying new shoes (who was going to see her shoes on TV?!!) — I was down on the street in my area, doing the rounds, talking to shopkeepers, community workers, youth, pensioners ….

Of course, Big Al was going to get to hear what I was doing. But the gamble was that my Ma’s appeal would be broadcast before he could make his move …. and after that, it would be much more difficult for Big Al to demonstrate the full meaning of that “else” with which he had threatened me. And hopefully the community would start to solidify and be able to resist. Doing nasty things to me wouldn’t be that productive any more. And whatever else Big Al was, he was a pragmatist.

Yes, of course, there’s always the unpredictable emotional element ….

I was pondering that when something pulled me half out of the script.

It was around 6am and I was still half in the script and trying to figure a way to win through. But not for long, as I was driven stumbling from my bed by the urea imperative – I had to go to the toilet.

In the hallway I switched on the light, still thinking about the script I had been in and, turning into what I thought was the open doorway, immediately stubbed my toe and nearly my nose on the door. After suitable curses, I did the business in the toilet and thought about the events in the script.

Then I wondered whether I could somehow get hold of the scriptwriter and how I could make him pay for what he put me through.

Had I met him? No, never. How did I know he was male? I don’t know, but for some reason I was sure he was. Which is strange, because nobody in my life had ever fucked with my head the way some women had. But yes, he is male – I’m sure of it. Now, where could he be hanging out ….?



Diarmuid Breatnach (published originally in Dublin Political History Tours)

(Miren de bajo para la versión en castellano).

The 31st of August 1913 was one of several ‘Bloody Sundays’ in Irish history and it took place in O’Connell Street (then Sackville Street).

A rally had been called to hear the leader of the IT&GWU) speak. The rally had been prohibited by a judge but the leader, Jim Larkin, burning the prohibition order in front of a big demonstration of workers on the evening of the 29th, promised to attend and address the public.

On the day in O’Connell Street, the Dublin police with their batons attacked the crowd, including many curious bystanders and passers by, wounding many by which at least one died later from his injuries.

One could say that on that street on the 31st, or in the nearby Eden Quay on the night of the 30th, when the police batoned to death two workers, was born the workers’ militia, the Irish Citizen Army, in a desire that very soon would be made flesh.

La carga policial contra los manifestantes y transeúntes en la Calle O'Connell en el 31 Agosto 1913/ DMP attack on demonstrators and passers-by on 31st August 1913 in Dublin's O'Connell Street
La carga policial contra los manifestantes y transeúntes en la Calle O’Connell en el 31 Agosto 1913/ DMP attack on demonstrators and passers-by on 31st August 1913 in Dublin’s O’Connell Street


Bloody Sunday Dublin occurred during the employers’ Lockout of 1913. Under Jim Larkin’s leadership, the Liverpudlian of the Irish diaspora, the young ITGWU was going from strength to strength and increasing in membership, with successful strikes and representation in Dublin firms. But in July 1913, one of Dublin’s foremost businessmen, William Martin Murphy, called 200 businessmen to a meeting, where they resolved to break the trade union.

Murphy was an Irish nationalist, of the political line that wished for autonomy within the British Empire; among his businesses were the Dublin tram company, the Imperial Hotel in O’Connell Street and the national daily newspaper “The Irish Independent”.

The employers decided to present all their workers with a declaration to sign that the workers would not be part of the ITGWU, nor would they support them in any action; in the case of refusal to sign, they would be sacked.

The members of the ITGWU would have to reject the document or leave the union, which nearly none of them were willing to do.

Nor could the other unions accept that condition, despite any differences they may have had with Larkin, with his ideology and his tactics, because at some point in the future the employers could use the same tactic against their own members.

The Dublin (and Wexford) workers rejected the ultimatum and on the 26th began a tram strike, which was followed by the Lockout and mixed with other strikes — a struggle that lasted for eight months.

Dublin had remarkable poverty, with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and others, including the sexually-transmitted ones, the city being a merchant port and also having many British Army barracks. The percentage of infantile mortality was higher than that in Calcutta. Workers’ housing was in terrible condition, often with entire families living in one room, in houses sometimes of 12 rooms, each one full of people, with one or two toilets in the outside yard.

In those conditions, 2,000 Dublin workers confronted their employers, the latter aided by their Metropolitan Police, the Irish colonial police and the British Army. As well as the workers, many small traders suffered, those selling in the street or from little shops.

On that Monday, the 31st of September 1913, some trade unionists and curious people congregated in Dublin’s main street, then called Sackville Street, in front of and around the main door of the big Clery’s shop. In the floors above the shop, was the Imperial Hotel, with a restaurant.

The main part of the union went that day to their grounds in Fairview, to avoid presenting the opportunity for another confrontation with the Dublin Municipal Police. Others in the leadership had argued that the police should not be given the opportunity and that there would be many other confrontations during the Lockout. But Larkin swore that he would attend and that a judge should not be permitted to ban a workers’ rally.
Daily Mirror Arrest Larkin photoThere were many police but nothing was happening and Larkin did not appear. After a while, a horse-drawn carriage drove up and an elderly church minister alighted, assisted by a woman, and entered the shop. They took the lift to the restaurant floor. A little later Larkin appeared at the restaurant open window, in church minister’s clothing, spoke a few words to the crowd and ran inside. Those in the street were very excited and when the police took Larkin out under arrest, they cheered him, urged on by Constance Markievicz. The police drew their batons and attacked the crowd — any man not wearing a police uniform.



The Irish Citizen Army was founded for the union on the 6th November 1913 by Larkin, Connolly and others with Seán Ó Cathasaigh/ O’Casey, playwright and author, including the first history of the organisation.

The Citizen Army at Croydon House, at the ITGWU's grounds in Fairview/ El Ejercito Ciudadano en su parte del parque en Fairview.
The Citizen Army at Croydon House, at the ITGWU’s grounds in Fairview/ El Ejercito Ciudadano en su parte del parque en Fairview.

As distinct from the Irish Volunteers, women could enter the ICA, within which they had equal rights.

Funeral of James Byrne, who died as a result of his imprisonment during the 1913 Lockout
Funeral of James Byrne, who died as a result of his imprisonment during the 1913 Lockout/ Procesión funébre de James Byrne, fallecido por razón de su encarcelamiento durante el Cierre de 1913, pasando por el muelle sur Eden’s Quay, partiendo de la Salla de la Libertad.

It was reorganised in 1914 as the union was recovering from its defeat during the Lockout, and 200 fought alongside the Volunteers in the 1916 Easter Rising, after which two of its leaders, Michael Mallin and James Connolly, were executed. Among the nearly 100 death sentences there were others of the ICA, including Markievicz, but their death sentences were commuted (14 were executed in Dublin, one in Cork and one was hanged in London).

The main fighting locations of the ICA in 1916 were in Stephen’s Green and in the Royal College of Surgeons, in City Hall and, with Volunteers in the GPO and in the terrace in Moore Street, the street market.

The Imperial Hotel on the other side of the street from the GPO was occupied too by the ICA and on top of it they attached their new flag, the “Starry Plough/ Plough and Stars”, the design in gold colour on a green background, the

The flag of the ICA, flown over Murphy's Imperial Hotel in 1916
The flag of the ICA, flown over Murphy’s Imperial Hotel in 1916

constellation of Ursa Mayor, which the Irish perceived in the form of a plough, an instrument of work. And there the flag still flew after the Rising, having survived the bombardment and the fire which together destroyed the building and all others up to the GPO, on both sides of the street. Then a British officer happened to notice the flag and ordered a soldier to climb up and take it down — we know not where it went.



Today, after various amalgamations, the once-noble ITGWU has become SIPTU, the largest trade union in Ireland but one which does not fight. The skyscraper containing its offices, Liberty hall, occupies the spot of the original Liberty Hall, prior to its destruction by British bombardment in 1916.

The Irish newspaper the “Irish Independent” continues to exist, known as quite right-wing in its editorial line. Murphy’s trams came to an end during the 1950 decade and those in Dublin today have nothing to do with Murphy.

The Imperial Hotel no longer exists and, until very recently, Clery had taken over the whole building, but they sacked their workers and closed the building, saying that they were losing money.

In front of the building, in the pedestrianised central reservation, stands the monument as a representation of Jim Larkin. The form of the statue, with its hands in the air, is from a photo taken of Larkin during the Lockout, as he addressed another rally in the same street. It is said that in those moments, he was finishing a quotation which he used during that struggle (but which had also been written previously by James Connolly in 1897, and which something similar had been written by the liberal monarchist Étienne de La Boétie [1530–1563] and later by the French republican revolutionary Camille Desmoulins [1760–1794]): “The great appear great because we are on our knees – LET US ARISE!”


The Jim Larkin monument in O'Connell Street today/ El monumento de Jim Larkin in la Calle O'Connell hoy en día
The Jim Larkin monument in O’Connell Street today/ El monumento de Jim Larkin in la Calle O’Connell hoy en día



Hubo una concentración para escuchar al líder del sindicato de Trabajadores de Transporte y de General de Irlanda (IT&GWU) hablar. La manifestación fue prohibida por juez pero el líder, Jim Larkin, quemando el documento de prohibición en frente de manifestación grande la noche del 29, prometió que iba a asistir y hablar al publico.

El día 31 en la Calle O’Connell, la policía de Dublin con sus porras atacaron la concentración y a muchos otros curiosos o pasando por casualidad, hiriendo a muchos por lo cual murió uno por lo menos mas tarde de sus heridas.

Se puede decir que en esa calle en el 31, o en la cerca muelle, Eden Quay, la noche del 30, cuando mataron a porras dos trabajadores, se dio luz a la milicia sindical, el Ejercito Ciudadano de Irlanda, en deseo que poco mas tarde estaría fundado en actualidad.


El Domingo Sangriento ocurrió durante el Cierre Patronal de Dublín en el 1913. Bajo el liderazgo de Jim Larkin, el Liverpoolés de diáspora Irlandesa, el joven sindicato ITGWU fue yendo de fuerza a fuerza y aumentando en miembros, con éxitos en sus huelgas y reconocido en muchas de las empresas de Dublín. Pero en Julio del 1913, uno de los principales empresarios de Dublín, William Martin Murphy, llamó a 200 de los empresarios a mitin y resolvieron romper el sindicato.

Murphy era nacionalista Irlandés, de la linea de pedir autonomía pero adentro del Imperio británico; entre sus empresas le pertenecía la linea de tranvías de Dublín, el Hotel Imperial en la Calle O’Connell y el periódico diario nacional The Irish Independent.

Resolvieron los empresarios presentar a todos sus trabajadores una declaración para firmar que no serían parte del sindicato ITGWU ni les darían ningún apoyo en cualquiera acción; en caso de negar firmar, se les despedirían.

Los miembros del ITGWU tendrían que rechazar el documento o salir del sindicato, lo cual casi lo total no estuvieron dispuestos hacer.

Los otros sindicatos, pese a cualquiera diferencias tuvieron con Larkin, con sus pensamientos y sus tácticas, tampoco podían acceder a esa condición por que mas tarde se podría usar la misma táctica en contra de sus miembros también.

Los trabajadores de Dublín (y de Wexford) rechazaron el ultimátum y empezaron el 26 de Agosto una huelga de los tranvías, seguido por el Cierre Patronal, mixta con otras huelgas, una lucha que duró ocho meses en total.

Dublín tuvo una pobreza impresionante, con infecciones de tuberculosis y otras, incluido las transmitidas por el sexo, siendo puerto mercantil y teniendo muchos cuarteles del ejercito británico. El porcentaje de la mortalidad infantil era mas de la de la ciudad de Calcuta. Las viviendas de los trabajadores estaban en terribles condiciones, con a menudo familias grandes enteras viviendo en una habitación, en casas a veces de 12 habitaciones, cada uno llena de gente, con una o dos servicios en el patio exterior.

En esas condiciones 2,000 trabajadores de Dublín se enfrentaron al patronal de Dublín, con su policía metropolitana, la policía colonial de Irlanda y el ejercito británico. Además de los trabajadores, muchos pequeños empresarios, vendiendo en la calle o en tiendas pequeños, sufrieron.

Ese Domingo, del 31o de Setiembre 1913, algunos sindicalistas y gente curiosa se congregaron en la calle principal de Dublín, entonces nombrado Sackville Street, en frente y al rededor de la puerta principal de la gran tienda de Clery. En las plantas después de la primera, estaba el Hotel Imperial, con un restaurante.

La mayor parte del sindicato se fueron ese día a una parte de parque que les pertenecía por la costa, para evitar otra enfrentamiento con la Policía Metropolitana de Dublín. Habían argumentado otros de la dirección del sindicato que no se debe dar les la oportunidad a la policía y que habría muchos otros enfrentamientos durante el Cierre. Pero Larkin juró que lo iba a asistir y que no se podía permitir a un juez prohibir manifestaciones obreras.

Había mucha policía pero nada pasaba y Larkin no aparecía. Después de un rato, un coche de caballos llegó y un viejo sacerdote salió, apoyado por una mujer, y entraron en la tienda de Clery. Subieron en el ascensor hacía el restaurante. Poco después, Larkin apareció en la ventana abierta del restaurante, en el traje del cura y habló unas palabras, antes de correr adentro. Los de abajo en la calle muy entusiasmados y cuando la policía salieron agarrando le a Larkin, la multitud le dieron vítores, alentados por Constance Markievicz. La Policía Municipal sacaron sus porras y atacaron a la multitud – a cualquier hombre que no llevaba uniforme policial.



El Ejercito Ciudadano de Irlanda (Irish Citizen Army) fue fundado para el sindicato en el 6 de Noviembre del 1913 por Larkin, Connolly y otros con Seán Ó Cathasaigh/ O’Casey, escritor de obras para teatro y algunas otras, incluso la primera historia de la organización. A lo contrario de Los Voluntarios, el ICA permitía entrada a mujeres, donde tenían derechos iguales.

Fue reorganizada en 1914 cuando el sindicato se fue recobrando de la derrota del Cierre Patronal, y 200 lucharon con los Voluntarios en el Alzamiento de Pascuas de 1916, después de lo cual dos de sus líderes, Michael Mallin y James Connolly, fueron ejecutados. Entre los casi 100 condenas de muerte, habían otros del ICA, incluso Constance Markievicz, pero sus condenas de muerte fueron conmutadas (se les ejecutaron a 14 en Dublín y a uno en Cork, y a otro le ahorcaron en Londres).

Los lugares principales de lucha del ICA en 1916 fueron en el Stephen’s Green y en el Collegio Real de Cirujanos (Royal College of Surgeons), en el Ayuntamiento y, con Voluntarios, en la Principal Oficina de Correos (GPO) y en la manzana del Moore Street, el mercado callejero.

El Hotel Imperial al otro lado de la calle del GPO lo ocuparon también el ICA, y encima colocaron su nueva bandera, el Arado de Estrellas (“Starry Plough/ Plough and Stars”), el diseño en color oro sobre fondo verde, la formación celeste del Ursa Mayor, que lo veían los Irlandeses en forma del arado, una herramienta de trabajo. Y ahí ondeó la bandera después del Alzamiento, habiendo sobrevivido el bombardeo británico y el fuego que destruyeron el edificio y la calle entera hacía el GPO, en ambos lados. Entonces un oficial británico se dio cuenta de la bandera y le mandó a soldado hir a recoger la – no se sabe donde terminó.



Hoy en día, después de varias fusiones, el noble ITGWU se ha convertido en el SIPTU, el sindicato mas grande de Irlanda y parecido en su falta de lucha a Comisiones Obreras del Estado Español. El rasca cielos de sus oficinas, La Sala de la Liberta (Liberty Hall), ocupa el mismo lugar que ocupó la antigua Liberty Hall, antes de su destrucción por bombardeo británico en 1916.

El periódico Irish Independent sigue existiendo, conocido por ser bastante de derechas en su linea editorial. Los tranvías de Murphy terminaron en la década del 1950 y los de hoy en Dublín no tienen nada que ver con los de antes.

El Hotel Imperial ya no existe y, hasta hace muy poco, la empresa Clery lo tenía todo el edificio, pero despidieron a sus trabajadores y cerraron el edificio, diciendo que perdían dinero.

En frente del edificio, en la reserva peatonal del centro de la calle, está el monumento representando a Jim Larkin. La forma de la estatua, con las manos en el aire, lo tiene de foto que le hicieron durante el Cierre Patronal, cuando habló en otro manifestación en la misma calle. Dicen que en ese momento, estaba terminando una frase famosa que usó durante esa lucha (pero que también lo escribió Connolly antes en 1897, y que lo había escrito algo parecido primero el monárquico reformista Étienne de La Boétie [1530–1563] y luego el revolucionario republicano francés Camille Desmoulins [1760–1794]): “Los grandes aparecen grande por que estamos de rodillas – levantamanos!”




Famine emigrants monument on the north quays of the river Liffey, Dublin, with superimposed image of African woman and children. Image from Memet Uludag on Facebook.
The Great Hunger (1845-1849) emigrants’ monument on the north quays of the river Liffey, Dublin, with superimposed image of African woman and children (image from Memet Uludag on Facebook).
Diarmuid Breatnach
Remember? Remember when we were migrants?
Remember when we fled murder and rapine
and many another terrible scene
When death and torture were at hand
and we sought succour in other lands?
Remember when our little nation
was devastated by starvation.
disease and desolation,
our hope in emigration ….
Remember when we died by
mountain, valley and sea
and we braved
the rolling waves
to go where we might be free?
Remember, oh do you remember?
Escape, the vote,
in leaky boats
in anything to float,
fear in throat,
today they launch
for our shores.
Remember? We must remember!