SPEECH BY SAVE MOORE STREET FROM DEMOLITION REPRESENTATIVE AT RALLY AFTER MARCH 30th JANUARY 2016

Diarmuid Breatnach

Go raibh maith agat a Chathaoirligh agus a Choiste Eagraithe as an gcuireadh chun cainte ar son feachtas Shábhála Ó Leagaint Shráid an Mhúraigh. Go raibh maith agaibh freisin, a lucht tacaíochta, as a bheith i láthair agus as bhur néachtanna go dtí seo.

Thank you Chair and Organising Committee for the invitation to speak on behalf of the Save Moore Street From Demolition Group and to supporters of the campaign here today and for their deeds in the past.

The Save Moore Street From Demolition group began in September 2014, founded by a handful of people who had supported other Moore Street campaigners over the years and at times helped with organising events. Our call to do something different was the emergency looming when Chartered Land offered to hand over the houses of the national monument, No.14-17, to Dublin City Council in exchange for the ones owned by them, No.s 24-25. We knew that once O’Reilly got those two, he would have demolished them …. along with the rest of the 1916 Terrace all the way up and including No.18.

Brendan Viv man

Moore Street, November 2014, Vivienne Lee at the weekly campaign table while people sign the petition. Brendan O’Neill, an early supporter, signing.

The Council’s Chief Executive, Owen Keegan, was completely in favour but he had a problem: since this involved disposal of Council assets, the deal could not be agreed by officials but would have to be voted for by a majority of Councillors. So it was put to them and he recommended acceptance. And the SMSFD group was born to fight that.

We put up a table with a petition every Saturday in Moore Street. We lobbied Councillors on line and at Council meetings. We gave out leaflets in Moore St. We set up FB pages and kept them lively every week, slowly building up our support. Down in Moore Street, we interacted with the street traders, small shops and of course with passers-by.

Number of people signing the petition at the Moore Street stall in its early days

Number of people signing the petition at the Moore Street stall in its early days, Robbie Lawlor at the table.


I’d be lying if I said there were not times when we were tempted to stop. Maybe times when only three of us were there and when one of that three was off sick or away, or even two. But others did come by to help us from time to time.

And when we gave the emergency call about the planned demolition of the buildings, when we called the emergency demonstrations for two consecutive days in the street, the response was immediate. And it was active. The people who occupied those buildings saved them from being demolished.

And the campaign that we have now built together will hopefully ensure that the 1916 Terrace will be saved for the benefit of generations to come, both in Ireland and around the world.

TERRACE AND SITE

The experts employed by the State and the speculators tell us that one building or another in the terrace is not a 1916 building.  But the fact is that there has never been an independent survey of the site.  Can we trust experts employed by speculators who care nothing for history or heritage, whose only concern is making lots of money?  Can we trust experts employed by a State that has cared little throughout its history for heritage, culture or history but has been focused instead throughout on serving the Gombeens in our country and vultures from abroad?

I think we cannot. But regardless of what any expert may say, whether independent or not, no-one can deny that terrace is the site of the GPO garrison. The whole terrace. Sixteen houses. Not four.

Moore Stret December 2014, the weekly campaign stall in its early days -- Brónagh Ní Loing, Diarmuid Breatnach at table with Mel Mac Giobúin talking to an interested passer-by

Moore Stret December 2014, the weekly campaign stall in fourth month — Bróna Ní Loing, Diarmuid Breatnach at table with Mel Mac Giobúin talking to an interested passer-by

Sixteen – something of an important and recurring number in connection with the Rising. The year was 1916. The number of executions was sixteen. And there are sixteen houses.

That whole site is a historic site and by any rational, historically-minded appraisal, not only deserves preservation, but cries out for it. Cries out for preservation, Brothers and Sisters, in the midst of this historic quarter, this small area in the heart of Dublin, with its last remaining street of a whole market area, centuries old, now buried under the ILAC. A small historic quarter with artifacts, points of importance, buildings and sites of importance going back to the Land War, the 1913 Lockout, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, the Civil War ….

BRICKS AND MORTAR

It is just bricks and mortar,” some of our critics have said. “History is about people, not buildings.” Of course, history is about people. And not just leaders, but the mass of people who, in the midst of their daily struggles to live, to work, to raise families, dare to dream. And where do dreams happen? In the imagination.

And has psychology not taught us the importance of symbols? This building behind me has a symbolism of great potency. The faces of the our martyrs, our flags, the pictures of the starving people of the Great Hunger, the words of speeches and proclamations which we read in little symbols of written words, plaques and monuments …. the very letters on paper, also symbols to convey meaning …. even our spoken words ….

All these symbols give shape and expression to our dreams. Not only the dreams which we experience in our sleep but the great dreams of humanity, the waking and sleeping dream, of freedom, peace, in which to pursue our interests, in which to seek happiness.

SPECULATORS

These our dreams, our human dreams of progress for mankind, are not shared by all.  They are not shared by Joe O’Brien of Chartered Land.

They are not shared by the board of directors of Irish Life, who buried the rest of the centuries-old market under their architecturally-hideous ILAC shopping centre. And who seek to build further out into Moore Street and upwards and have been granted permission by Dublin City Council Planning Department to do so.

And so we must conclude, must we not, that our dreams are not shared by such senior officials in Dublin City Council as Owen Keegan and others running the Planning Department.

No. They do not share our dreams for the future, nor our respect for what was valuable in our past.

December 2014, crowd signing the petition in Moore Street, Brónagh at the table

December 2014, crowd signing the petition in Moore Street, Bróna at the table

An Bord Pleanála has approved the massive shopping centre plan to construct an architectural horror from O’Connell Street across to Moore Street, and from O’Rahilly Parade down to Henry Street, in the course of which they will destroy the 1916 Terrace and enclose a shoebox museum … next to a MacDonalds, perhaps, or a Starbucks …. Constructing a cathedral to Mammon, to the gods of chain stores and eatery franchises ….. So we must conclude that An Bord Pleanála does not share our dreams either.

Lobby of Dublin City Councillors against the 'Land Swap" in Moore Street, 4th October 2014

Lobby of Dublin City Councillors at City Hall 4th October 2014against the ‘Land Swap” in Moore Street, — picket organised by Save Moore Street From Demolition campaign. Signed petition sheets sellotaped together stretched — 2nd and 3rd participants from left are Paddy Cooney and Proinsias Ó Rathaile, of the Save Moore Street campaign.

But does an Bord Pleanála act independently? No it does not, as we well know and as been shown in many planning controversies in the past. It follows the dictates, nods and winks of its political masters, the political class and its nominees in the Dáil. And these do not belong to one political party only, but to several.

And Minister Heather Humphreys, their representative with special responsibility in this case, patently does not share our dreams nor our respect for heritage.

The board of directors of the giant property company Hammerson do not share our dreams either. They dream of big ugly buildings and giant car parks where chain stores and restaurants and franchise eateries can market their goods, depriving shops and goods of any individual regional or national character, making one city’s commercial centre look like any other, from Dublin to Dupont, from Cork to Caracas.

But behind all this array of servile public departments and officials and political representatives, aiding and abetting the clutch of home-grown speculators and foreign vultures, there are the final villains, the whole Irish class of neo-colonial, money-grabbing, huckstering, fumbling-in-a-greasy-til, greedy, incompetent, philistine shower that climbed up upon our backs in 1921 – the Irish gombeen class.

CAPITALIST CLASS

When we have viewed with dismay how little our native ruling class cares for our land, our history, our natural resources, or very PEOPLE ….. some among us have said: “But how can they treat with such disrespect the history and artifacts of the men and women who gave them independence?  Their own ancestors?”  But such commentators are mistaken, brothers and sisters.

The heroes of 1916 are not the political ancestors of the gombeen class – they are ours! A few who fought in 1916 and later became part of the gombeen class from the 1920s onwards, true …. but when they did so, they disowned their forebears.

WE have not disowned the heroes of 1913, nor of 1916, nor of struggles afterwards.

There has not been an independently-minded capitalist class in Ireland since the late 17th Century – and they were nearly all Protestants, of one sect or another. They sought national unity and independence and when they were denied it, rose in rebellion for political, economic and cultural independence in 1798 …. and again in 1803 … But they were defeated and their survivors changed their ideas or left the country.

This class of native capitalists that we have now in the 26 Co.s, mostly of Catholic religious background, grew up under foreign domination. They learned early on to doff the cap to the foreign master, ape him in clothes and manners, speak his language and carry out little deals behind his back.

They learned to be ‘cute hoors’ but they never learned to fight and risk life and limb for a principle. They scramble to get to the top of the dung-heap and crow from there. Or they push and jostle one another to get their snouts in the trough.

They never stood up on their two legs, with back straight and head up, and flew the flag of freedom. They could never stand straight on a gallows and cry “God Save Ireland!” before they were hung, or stand defiantly in front of a prison wall to receive the bullets of their executioners. They never faced the batons of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or the rifles and bayonets of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

And this is why James Connolly, who spent his last days in the building behind me and later in Moore Street, before he was taken away and they made sure to shoot him dead even when they realised that they were going too politically far with the executions …. And by the way the newspaper of Irish Catholic nationalist gombeen man William Martin Murphy, the Irish Independent, called for his execution …..
this is why James Connolly said:
“Only the working class remain as the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for Irish freedom.”

Connolly saw the foreign-dependent and internally corrupt nature of the native capitalist class even before they seized power over his body and the bodies of others who had fought for independence and a just society. And by the way, nor did they stop there – they added hundreds more bodies to ensure they kept the power they had grabbed. And out of our every generation, sent thousands of our youth into exile, rather than build a country that would keep them at home, give them work, housing.

THE CENTENARY & IDEALS

As I come to the end of what I have to say here, early in the centenary year of the 1916 Rising, and I thank you for your patience, I reflect that it appears to be a law of life that for everything we gain, there is a price to be paid.  We have learned that many, oh so many times throughout our history, have we not?

What we are asking for — no demanding — from our rulers, in the case of the campaign for the Moore Street historical quarter, is not much in the grand scheme of their plunder and exploitation.

It is in their power to give it and to pay the political price do so, without bringing down their house of cards.

But if they will not grant it, what then? Well, then we must fight for it. And we too must be ready to pay the price. And I think it is clear that there are many here, and not only here, prepared to pay that price.

And I can do no better than to quote the words of another one who spent his last few days in this building behind me and in the Moore Street 1916 Terrace, who also had some valuable words to say to us. Pádraig Mac Piarais, in his poem The Rebel:


And I say to my people’s masters:

Beware,

Beware of the thing that is coming,

beware of the risen people, 


Who shall take what ye would not give. 


Did ye think to conquer the people, 


Or that Law is stronger than Lfe and than men’s desire to be free?

We will try it out with you,

Ye that have harried and held, 


Ye that have bullied and bribed,

tyrants,

hypocrites,

liars!

End.

Diarmuid Breatnach, who gave the speech, earlier at the march, as it came down through Moore Street into Henry Street, heading for the GPO and the rally. Behind Diarmuid is the entrance to Henry Place, evacuation route of the GPO Garrison in 1916.

Diarmuid Breatnach, who gave the speech, earlier at the march, as it came down through Moore Street into Henry Street, heading for the GPO and the rally. Behind Diarmuid is the entrance to Henry Place, evacuation route of the GPO Garrison in 1916. (Photo: Save Moore Street 2016)

WORKING CLASS HERO IS COMMEMORATED IN THE EAST WALL AREA WHERE HE LIVED

Diarmuid Breatnach

On Sunday 8th May a working-class hero was commemorated in the East Wall area in which he lived. Walter Carpenter was a native of Kent, in SE England and came to Ireland to help found the Socialist Party of Ireland 1 with James Connolly in 1909 in Dublin. Among other activities a campaigner around housing issues for the Dublin working class, he reared his sons in socialist belief so that it was no surprise that both Wally (Walter jnr) and Peter joined the Irish Citizen Army and fought in the 1916 Rising. As a result of the repression of the Rising, one son ended up in Frongoch concentration camp in Wales, while the other was in hiding. Later, both brothers also fought against the Free State in the Irish Civil War; Wally was interned and went on hunger strike.

Lining Up Outside SOCC

Assembling to march outside the Sean O’Casey Community Centre

Jailed for opposing British Royal visit to Dublin

Rising to be Secretary of the Dublin Branch of the SPI in 1911, Walter Carpenter was jailed for a month for the production while speaking on a public platform of Connolly’s leaflet attacking the Royal visit that same year. Soon afterwards he was an organiser for the newly-formed Irish & Transport Workers’ Union. During the Lockout, he was sent by Connolly to Britain to rally the support of trade unionists for the struggle of the Dublin workers and was apparently an effective speaker there. That same year Walter Carpenter was elected General Secretary of the Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ trade union, generally known as “the Jewish Union” due to the preponderance of its members being from that background.

Two sections march

United in purpose but fragmented in marching

Walter also became active in municipal politics, striving to make Dublin City Council meet its housing regulation responsibilities in the terrible housing conditions of the city of that time. There were many other sides to this campaigner too, which a read of Ellen Galvin’s pamphlet will reveal.

The East Wall History Group had earlier had a plaque erected on the wall of the house where he had lived, No.8 Caledon Road and organised an event around its unveiling on Sunday. The event began with a gathering at the Sean O’Casey Community Centre in East Wall, where an introduction to the event and to Walter Carpenter’s importance in the revolutionary and radical social history of Ireland was given by Joe Mooney, one of the organisers of the event. As well as local historians, socialists and Republicans, the event was attended by his surviving grandson, great-grandchildren and partners and their children. Also present was Ellen Galvin, who wrote a booklet on his life which was launched after the unveiling, back in the Sean O’Casey Centre.

Joe Mooney with a few preliminary words about Walter Carpenter and the history of the area

Joe Mooney with a few preliminary words about Walter Carpenter and the history of the area

Misfortune struck the event before it had even begun, with the news that Christy O’Brien, the piper who was to lead a march to the unveiling, had his pipes stolen from his car that very morning. Christy gives his service as a piper to many commemorative events, funerals etc. and, with the announcement of the misfortune, Joe Mooney also called for the spreading of the news in order to aid the recovery of the instrument. A set of bagpipes will cost thousands to buy or have made but it would be a rare musician or pawnshop that would negotiate for a stolen set (one which furthermore might be recognised at a musical event in the future).
(see also https://www.facebook.com/eastwallhistory/photos/a.593335330735681.1073741828.580261572043057/1042532349149308/?type=3&theater)

March to plaque past previous addresses of Irish resistance fighters

The march set off from the Sean O’Casey Centre without the piper, led by supporters carrying the banner of the East Wall History Group, a Tricolour and a Starry Plough (original green and gold version). Walking alongside were two Gárdaí and one wit commented that not only were descendants of the Irish Citizen Army present but also of the Dublin Metropolitan Police! 2

Caitríona Ní Casaidthe presiding over the plaque unveiling

Caitríona Ní Casaidthe presiding over the plaque unveiling

Deputy Dublin Mayor Cieran Perry in the march -- he also spoke at the unveiling.

Deputy Dublin Mayor Cieran Perry in the march — he also spoke at the unveiling.

Joe Mooney had told the crowd before the march began that they would pass a number of locations where fighters for Irish and working-class freedom had lived. These were: St Marys Road, Tim O’Neill at No.8 and father and daughter Patrick Kavanagh and May Kavanagh at No.24. Christy Byrne lived at No.45 and his brother Joseph Byrne was from Boland’s Cottages off Church Road, where also Christopher Carberry lived on Myrtle Terrace on Church Rd. All these were Irish Volunteers, while May was in Cumann na mBan. In Northcourt Avenue (now demolished, roughly where the Catholic Church stands), Patrick & William Chaney were in the Irish Citizen Army and in Hawthorn Terrace lived James Fox (Irish Volunteer) and Willie Halpin (ICA).

Joe added that at the junction of St. Mary’s Road and Church Street, the local Irish Volunteers had mustered to participate in the Rising, 100 years ago and also reminded the gathering that that very day, the 8th of May, was the centenary of the executions by British firing squad of Michael Mallin of the Irish Citizen Army and of Irish Volunteers Eamonn Ceannt, Sean Heuston and Con Colbert.

Eamon Carpenter, 94, grandson of Walter Carpenter (Photo D.Breatnach)

Eamon Carpenter, 94, grandson of Walter Carpenter (Photo D.Breatnach)

Upon reaching No. 8 Caledon Road, the former home of Walter Carpenter, Caitríona Ní Chasaide of the East Wall History Group introduced Eamon Carpenter, 94 years of age and a grandson of Walter Carpenter, who addressed the crowd in thanks and also about the life of his grandfather.

“The struggles of the past are not merely for commemoration”

Next Caitríona introduced the Deputy Mayor of Dublin, Cieran Perry, who pointed out the parallels between the dire housing situation in the early part of the last century, which Walter Carpenter had campaigned against, and the housing crisis in Dublin today. He castigated the officials of Dublin City Council who, despite the votes of elected Left Councillors, refused to use all the land available to them on a number of sites to build social housing and were instead preparing it for private development with a only fraction for social housing. For as little as 5% of the €4 billion of Minister Kelly’s oft-repeated proposed finance for social housing. i.e. €200 million, Dublin City Council could build over 1,300 homes. The struggles of the past are not merely for commemoration, Cieran went on to say, but are for celebration and for continuation, as he concluded to applause.

Caitríona then called on James Carpenter to unveil the plaque, which he did, to loud applause.Walter Carpenter plaque

After relatives and others had taken photos and been photographed in turn by the plaque and/or beside James Carpenter, Joe Mooney called on Diarmuid Breatnach to sing The Felons Of Our Land. Joe explained that Walter Carpenter had been fond of singing that son, that in the course of their participation in the struggle he and his son had also been felons, as had Larkin and many others. Joe also informed the gathering that Sean O’Casey related that during his childhood, there had been a tram conductor who had been fond of singing patriotic songs, including the Felons Of Our Land, of which Casey’s mother had disapproved. It had been an revelation for O’Casey that one could be a Protestant and an Irish patriot too.

Diarmuid, dressed in approximation of period clothing, stepped forward and sang the four verses, of which the final lines are:

Diarmuid Breatnach singing "Felons of Our Land" outside former home of Walter Carpenter. (Photo East Wall History Group)

Diarmuid Breatnach singing “Felons of Our Land” outside former home of Walter Carpenter.
(Photo East Wall History Group)

Let cowards sneer and tyrants frown
O! little do we care–
A felon’s cap’s the noblest crown
An Irish head can wear.
And every Gael in Innisfail
(Who scorns the serf’s vile brand)
From Lee to Boyne would gladly join
The felons of our land.

The crowd then marched back to the Sean O’Casey Centre to attend the launch of the booklet on Carpenter’s life.

Launch of book on Walter Carpenter by his granddaughter and grandson of his comrade

On the stage in the Centre’s theatre, were seated the author of the booklet, Ellen Galvin, alongside Michael O’Brien of O’Brien Press.

Ellen Galvin on stage at the Sean O'Casey Community Centre theatre and Michael O'Brien launching the book about Walter Carpenter. (Photo D.Breatnach)

Ellen Galvin on stage at the Sean O’Casey Community Centre theatre and Michael O’Brien launching the book about Walter Carpenter. (Photo D.Breatnach)

Michael O’Brien, addressing the audience, said he had wondered what qualification he might have to launch the book but on investigation discovered that he had not a few connections. His own grandfather, who was Jewish, had been a founder member of the Tailors, Machinists and Pressers’ Union, of which Carpenter had been the General Secretary until his retirement and so they must have known one another at least fairly well.

Also, Bill O’Brien’s father, Thomas, had been a communist and was active with Walter Carpenter in the Republican Congress in the 1930s. Walter Carpenter and Thomas O’Brien had both also been active in the Bacon Shops’ Strike of the early 1930s. Thomas O’Brien had been jailed during that strike along with Jack Nalty and Dinny Coady, both of whom had East Wall connections; subsequently Thomas went to fight Franco and fascism in Spain, where Nalty and Coady were both killed.

Joe Mooney called on Tommy Seery to sing The Bold Labour Men, a song about the 1913 Lockout written by a local man, which he did to strong applause. (Tommy is a member of the East Wall PEG Drama and Variety Group, in which he acts and also often sings – a recent performance, from which Tommy was unfortunately absent due to illness, may be seen here https://rebelbreeze.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/from-lockout-to-revolution-performance-of-east-wall-peg-drama-variety-group/).

Tommy Seery singing "The Bold Labour Men" about the 1913 Lockout (Photo D.Breatnach)

Tommy Seery singing “The Bold Labour Men” about the 1913 Lockout (Photo D.Breatnach)

Ellen Galvin spoke about Walter Carpenter’s life and his dedication to the advance of the working class and the struggle for justice.  Walter had been a supporter of equality for all, including gender, a man who read much and widely, who apparently learned Irish and campaigned for allotments for rent on Council-owned land while it was unused for housing.  He was against the consumption of alcohol but sympathised with people driven to its use by terrible housing conditions.

Joe then called on Diarmuid Breatnach to sing Be Moderate, written by James Connolly, to illustrate what it was that people like Connolly and those of the Irish Citizen Army fought for and for which some had given their lives. Diarmuid took the stage and explained that the song had been published in New York in 1910, the same year that he had returned to Ireland from the USA. There had been no indication of an air to accompany the lyrics, as a result of which it has been sung to a number of airs. Diarmuid heard it sung in London by an English communist to the air of a Nation Once Again 3 and at least one good thing about this is that it provides a chorus, with which he encouraged the audience to join in. He then sang the song, of which the final lines are:

For workers long, with sighs and tears,
To their oppressors knelt.
But never yet, to aught save fears,
Did heart of tyrant melt.
We need not kneel, our cause is high
Of true hearts 4 there’s no dearth
And our victorious rallying cry
Shall be “We want the Earth!”

Many in the audience joined in on the chorus:
We only want the Earth, 
We only want the Earth,
And our demands most moderate are:
We only want the Earth!

Eamon Carpenter delivered an impromptu tribute to Ellen Galvin, who he told the audience had lost her mother at the age of 13 years of age, from which time she had taken over the mother’s role for her younger siblings, ensuring the were fed, dressed and cared for. This tribute was warmly applauded while Ellen seemed embarrassed but also pleased.

This was another successful commemoration of the revolutionary history and, in particular, of the working class history of their area by the East Wall History Group. It is of great importance that the working class be appraised of their own history as distinct from the dominant historical narratives and that their revolutionary traditions be remembered, not as something dead and in the past but as part of a continuum of struggle for the emancipation of the class.

If there is a weakness in a number of such commemorations it is the lack of participation by local adolescent youth in these events – which may also imply a lack of engagement by this age-group. Nevertheless, should they go searching at some future date for the information and their connection to the history of place and class, they will find a treasure trove waiting for them in the work of this History Group.

Children & Parents left plaque

CONTACTS
The East Wall History Group may be contacted or viewed on FB at https://www.facebook.com/eastwallhistory/?fref=ts

Mother & 2 Daughters

Local Photographer Exhibition SOCC

FOOTNOTES

 There exists today an organisation called the Socialist Party of Ireland (which often organises under the banner of the Anti-Austerity Alliance) but it is not directly descended from the party founded in Ireland in 1909; rather it is closer to being an offshoot of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, with which it has close fraternal relations.

The Dublin Metropolitan Police gained particular notoriety for the violence against organised workers on behalf of Dublin employers, especially during the 1913 Lockout, during which they killed a number of workers with their truncheons. In later years, the force became a Dublin police force under the Free State, which was later subsumed into the Garda Síochána, a fact not generally known.

3  Written by Thomas Davis, first published in The Nation, Dublin, 1844.

4  “of true men there’s no dearth” in the original

FROM LOCKOUT TO REVOLUTION — PERFORMANCE OF EAST WALL PEG DRAMA & VARIETY GROUP

“From the Lockout to Revolution”, performance of the East Wall PEG Drama & Variety Group at City Hall on April 9th 2016. This was part of a program of events organised in conjunction with the Cabra 1916 Rising Committee and Dublin City Council.

 

At the outset of the Easter Rising, City Hall was occupied by a detachment of the Irish Citizen Army and was the location of fierce fighting until the insurgents were forced to surrender.  Their commanding officer and another three fighters were killed there.

( Video produced and edited by Eoin McDonnell )

East Wall PEG Drama & Variety Group performers: Rebecca Dillon, Mary Colmey, Monica Horan, Paul Horan, Colm Meehan, Séamus Murphy, Tréasa Woods, with Diarmuid Breatnach.

31st AUGUST 102 YEARS AGO — BLOODY SUNDAY IN DUBLIN 1913/ HOY, HACE 102 ANOS — EL DOMINGO SANGRIENTO DEL 31 DE AGOSTO 1913

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

THE EMPLOYERS’ LOCKOUT

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 UNION’S ARMY

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

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

 

EL 31 DE AGOSTO EN El 1913 FUE UNO DE LOS DOMINGOS SANGRIENTOS DE IRLANDA Y OCURRIÓ EN LA CALLE PRINCIPAL DE DUBLÍN.

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 CIERRE PATRONAL

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 DEL SINDICATO

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

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!”

 

Fin