Soviet na hEireann - Excellent program from TG4 again

SlabMurphy

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
1,684
Website
www.dublin.ie
Last night a documentary on the Limerick Soviet* in 1919 and the general labour struggles of the period 1919 - 1923 was on yet another excellent documentary from TG4. It also featured about the struggle between farm labourers and farm owners in Waterford and south Tipperary post Treaty ( Free State army put down the Labourers who were vertually slaves male and female house servants alike ).

Their were very many aspects to it, most I could agree with, some not. To be honest, it was written from a very left point of view, it seemed to me anyway that they were implying a 32 county Irish workers revoulotion was almost on the verge of succeding, when although their was widespread agitiation, it wasn't to the depth or extent as the program made out. Though I would agree that the Free Sate govt. were very much on the side of conservativeism, capitalism and of course the Catholic church. With personality's like Arthur Griffith ( I remember reading Ernie O'Malley's On Another Mans Wound that many IRA men secretly questioned if Griffith was a republican at all in his political beliefs even before the Treaty) and Cosgrove and former Redmondites like Kevin O'Higgins dominating nothing but the same old regieme could about.

Anyway, make up your own minds.

Here's the first part TG4 - Irish language television channel - Teilifis Gaeilge

And the rest TG4 - Irish language television channel - Teilifis Gaeilge - Documentaries


*More on the Limerick Soviet of 1919, or the Limerick General Strike as it sometimes called.
Limerick Soviet 1919 - Ireland Labour History - Introduction
 


Fr. Hank Tree

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
5,845
Twas interesting alright. Sorry to go a bit off-topic but on Monday night on TG4 aswell there was a homemade drama about a young hurling fellow who was basically screwed over by wealthy-ish people and sent to prison. It was very class-conscious in its sympathetic portrayal of someone we might otherwise perceive and dismiss as a no good "skanger" and not something you'd ever see on RTE. It was a decent show aswell with good acting and a good storyline. It was the first installment of a new six part series. These programmes are a testament to the good standards at TG4.
 

cricket

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 7, 2009
Messages
13,786
I saw the very last few minutes of it and , talk about history repeating itself, there was Comrade Joe decrying the lack of leadership by the Labour party during that period.
 

SlabMurphy

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
1,684
Website
www.dublin.ie
I saw the very last few minutes of it and , talk about history repeating itself, there was Comrade Joe decrying the lack of leadership by the Labour party during that period.
I don't think in fairness to Comrade Joe he specifically mentioned the Labour Party ?
 

Cael

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 19, 2006
Messages
13,304
Its tragic to think what Ireland could have been only for it being hi-jacked by bourgeois republicans, during the Tan War and after, by the right wing Sinn Féin misleadership, and turned into the gombeen nightmare it is now. The free state being under the landlords \ landowners misrule today just as it was under direct British misrule, and the vast amjority as excluded and landless as they ever were under the Brits. Tragically, the Trade Union misleadership are still betraying the Irish working class, with fatcats like David Begg making dirty deals to keep the bourgeoisie in power.
 

stewiegriffin

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Messages
839
The national labour movement came across as being spineless/self interested .Surely that couldnt be accurate ?
 

Cael

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 19, 2006
Messages
13,304
The national labour movement came across as being spineless/self interested .Surely that couldnt be accurate ?
Well, more that the Trade Union misleadership were spineless and self interested - as they are today.
 

revereie

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 7, 2004
Messages
345
Its tragic to think what Ireland could have been only for it being hi-jacked by bourgeois republicans, during the Tan War and after, by the right wing Sinn Féin misleadership, and turned into the gombeen nightmare it is now. The free state being under the landlords \ landowners misrule today just as it was under direct British misrule, and the vast amjority as excluded and landless as they ever were under the Brits. Tragically, the Trade Union misleadership are still betraying the Irish working class, with fatcats like David Begg making dirty deals to keep the bourgeoisie in power.

In Cael's world, misrule follows misrule, everyone betrays, and if only the people would come to their senses and listen to him and follow him all would be well .... ...
 

SlabMurphy

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
1,684
Website
www.dublin.ie
Its tragic to think what Ireland could have been only for it being hi-jacked by bourgeois republicans, during the Tan War and after, by the right wing Sinn Féin misleadership, and turned into the gombeen nightmare it is now. The free state being under the landlords \ landowners misrule today just as it was under direct British misrule, and the vast amjority as excluded and landless as they ever were under the Brits. Tragically, the Trade Union misleadership are still betraying the Irish working class, with fatcats like David Begg making dirty deals to keep the bourgeoisie in power.
Do you agree with me that in general it was a good documentary but it painted a misleading impression that the country was on the verge of a 32 county workers republic ?
 

making waves

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2010
Messages
19,300
Do you agree with me that in general it was a good documentary but it painted a misleading impression that the country was on the verge of a 32 county workers republic ?
No - if anything it underplayed the possibility - and in terms of the incidents covered it barely scratched the surface.

There is ample evidence in the national Archives to show that SF/IRA were absolutely terrified during the period from mid-1920 - 1922 that the labour movement was going to surplant the national struggle with class struggle. In response they used every means at their disposal to undermine it - using the Dail courts against striking workers, using IRA troops to break strikes, setting up right-wing 'Irish' unions to attempt to break workers away from left-wing British unions etc etc.

The full text of Liam Cahill's account of the Limerick Soviet is available on line.
While good - in my opinion Cahill's book also underplays the political potential in the situation for socialism at the time. He looks at the developments in Limerick in isolation and ignores the position of the ITGWU in comparison to praising the more conservative craft union leaders of the Trades Council. Cahill also views the Limerick Soviet in part as a conspiracy by SF to prevent the capture of Batty Stack. This is an utterly false assumption and all the evidence points against this being the case.
 
Last edited:

making waves

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2010
Messages
19,300
That programme was excellent

certainly part of our History they dont teach in School

TG4 deserve the money that RTE waste (RTE's entire budget?)
I agree - it doesn't operate within the accepted establishment norms - then again if it was given more money it might be forced to.
 

merle haggard

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
5,434
No - if anything it underplayed the possibility - and in terms of the incidents covered it barely scratched the surface.

There is ample evidence in the national Archives to show that SF/IRA were absolutely terrified during the period from mid-1920 - 1922 that the labour movement was going to surplant the national struggle with class struggle. In response they used every means at their disposal to undermine it - using the Dail courts against striking workers, using IRA troops to break strikes, setting up right-wing 'Irish' unions to attempt to break workers away from left-wing British unions etc etc.


While good - in my opinion Cahill's book also underplays the political potential in the situation for socialism at the time. He looks at the developments in Limerick in isolation and ignores the position of the ITGWU in comparison to praising the more conservative craft union leaders of the Trades Council. Cahill also views the Limerick Soviet in part as a conspiracy by SF to prevent the capture of Batty Stack. This is an utterly false assumption and all the evidence points against this being the case.
i think i challenged you before on your contention that IRA troops were used to break strikes . The only mention i can find of it is the use of free state troops .
Im also very wary of a bitterly sectarian left and their antipathy towards any political current that doesnt agree with their particular text books . Its clear anyway from your numerous analysis of that period that republicans and not the british were the villains of the period. And that Irish workers should have stayed in British trade unions .
 

Albert Aherne

Active member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
247
How true! We could have been the North Korea of Europe
Instead we were a kind of a bizarre Catholic Albania of Western Europe.Instead of being demented hungry marxists,we were demented hungry Catholics.:p
 

Albert Aherne

Active member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
247
Its clear anyway from your numerous analysis of that period that republicans and not the british were the villains of the period..
A period best forgotten.The more we know of it, the more ashamed we become.The IRA were ruthless savages just like the Tans.
 

making waves

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2010
Messages
19,300
i think i challenged you before on your contention that IRA troops were used to break strikes . The only mention i can find of it is the use of free state troops .
And as I have pointed out before - this is not the case - a number of cases in point directly from my own research -

In January 1920 farm labourers were on strike around Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale in West Limerick. Violence broke out several times between the striking labourers and farmers. In response the local farmers used the IRA (who were pretty much the same as most of the IRA volunteers in the locality were farmers sons) to protect some creameries that were strike bound to process milk from strike-bound farmers. Scouting parties of IRA volunteers were used to roam the hinterland to prevent striking workers from attacking strike-bound farmers and prevent the smashing of farm machinery. It has also been suggested that the IRA shopped the leaders of the strike to the RIC as during the strike the homes of several strike leaders were raided and the striking workers arrested - however I had not been able to find any confrmation that this was the case so it is likely to have been a rumour started by the striking workers to undermine the strike breaking role of local IRA volunteers.

In August 1921 workers in Bruree Co. Limerick at the Cleeves owned Bruree Flour Mills occupied the plant and established what became known as the Bruree Soviet. The workers ran the Mills and in effect the entire town for over two weeks. The Cleeve Brothers (a prominent unionist family in Limerick) contact the SF leadership and asked for assistance. Markiewicz was instructed to seek a meeting with the leadership of the ITGWU to seek the withdrawl of the occupation. When the local workers found out they went ballistic and refused to move resulting in Markiewicz instructing the IRA to remove the occupying workers. As a result of the arrival of IRA troops the workers agreed to leave the premises. The direct result of this was to severely sour relations between local members of the ITGWU and local IRA units, an animosity that was to boil over during a farm labourers strike three months later.

In September 1921 a strike broke out involving fisheries workers at the Castleconnell fisheries owned by SF councillor Anthony Mackey. Mackey had repeatedly promised to increase wages but failed to do so. Mackey contacted the SF leadership and asked for action to be taken against the workers. Initially they refused but when the workers occupied the fisheries at the begining of December (establishing the Castleconnell Soviet) Markiewicz ordered the IRA to remove the occupying workers. The workers made it clear they would refuse to leave, with the ITGWU threatening a general strike if the IRA attempted to remove the workers. Mackey diffused the stand-off by finally paying the workers their wage increase. However the workers again threatened to occupy the plant when Mackey refused to re-hire all the striking workers. Mackey backed down again in order to prevent an escalation of the dispute. Subsequently the local Dail court demanded the occupying workers to pay Mackey £60 rent for when they occupied the plant - not surprisingly the workers refused and eventually Mackey agreed to write off the rent in lieu of wages for the workers during the strike.

In November 1921 farm labourers around Bulgaden between Bruree and Kilmallock - violence broke out almost immediately with the farmers. Widespread damage was caused and striking workers organised defensive picket crews to protect themselves against local IRA volunteers who backed the farmers (again not surprising given the fact that many of the volunteers were farmers sons). The leader of the strike-bound farmers was a guy called Laffen, the SF chairman of Limerick Co. Council. He demanded the IRA act 'in the defence of property'. On the night of 12 November a group of strikers smashed a milk seperator belonging to one of the farmers. The following morning the IRA arrested four strikers they thought were involved. In response the ITGWU called a general strike in Kilmallock. The strike shut down the entire town and 300 workers marched through the town carrying a red banner demanding the immediate release of the strikers. The following day with tensions rising the IRA released the strikers and the general strike ended. IRA troops were now protecting strike-bound creameries manned by farmers in order to facilitate the processing of milk supplies.

At the begining of January a series of tit-for-tat kidnappings took place. The strikers kidnapped a farmer named O'Donnell and in retalaition the IRA kidnapped the leader of the strike Michael Lenihan. The IRA held Lenihan for over a week before releasing him. Immediately after the IRA declared marshall law, drafted 200 volunteers into the area and broke the strike.

Im also very wary of a bitterly sectarian left and their antipathy towards any political current that doesnt agree with their particular text books .
Everything outlined here is based on historical research that I have carried out myself and I have repeatedly in the past given references for all of this material (if you go to the archives you will actually find the telegram from Cleeve's asking for assistance). This information is readily available to anyone wishing to use it. The fact is that the pro-and anti-revisionist historians have no use for this material - it doesn't serve any purpose for them.

Its clear anyway from your numerous analysis of that period that republicans and not the british were the villains of the period.
Not true - The information that I have provided here is but a small part of academic works that has been published and part that is still to be published. I have addressed all aspects of working class history in that, including the role of the British and the RIC. In these posts I was addressing specifically the claim that SF/IRA were somehow supportive of the working class, were somehow and to some degree left-wing and that there was no prospect of a left led movement or a potentially socialist revolutionary situation in Ireland during this period. And yes - the free state troops were more blatant about strike-breaking than the pre-treaty IRA were.

And that Irish workers should have stayed in British trade unions .
The record for the period is quite clear - workers in the British based unions were amongst the most left-wing in the country. The Sinn Fein leadership were absolutely terrified of the potential posed by the left. They consciously organised right-wing 'Irish' unions in an attempt to undermine the left. This is ironic in that the one union that played the the most prominent role in undermining the British war effort, the Railway Workers union, was a British union. The most blatant and most successful attempt to split the unions was the formation of the Irish Engineering Union. One of the leading people in the formation of the IEU was James Carr, a SF member who had a deep seated hatred of the ITGWU. Sinn Fein established the IEU in order to split the Amalgamated Engineering Union on a right wing nationalist basis. They planned on using the IRA to deal with any workers within the AEU who attempted to prevent the split or if any action was taken by the British leadership against workers who joined the IEU. the IEU eventually recruited about 800 of the 4,500 AEU members - the vast majority in Limerick where Carr was based. Subsequently the IEU was used consciously by SF in an attempt to break a strike by 600 workers in the Cleeve's plant in Landsdowne in Limerick at the begining of 1922 that was part of the Munster soviets.
 

cottage_economist

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 7, 2009
Messages
521
Thanks for that last one, Making Waves, very interesting indeed. I have always thought that many republicans are a lot more right wing than they like to let on, example the waging of what they considered to be a war against the Wilson or Callaghan Labour governments, which were the most left wing that the UK had ever had.

Extreme nationalism usually gravitates towards the right of the political spectrum, rather than the left, as shown by the British nationalist parties of NF and BNP.
 

SlabMurphy

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
1,684
Website
www.dublin.ie
And as I have pointed out before - this is not the case - a number of cases in point directly from my own research -

In January 1920 farm labourers were on strike around Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale in West Limerick. Violence broke out several times between the striking labourers and farmers. In response the local farmers used the IRA (who were pretty much the same as most of the IRA volunteers in the locality were farmers sons) to protect some creameries that were strike bound to process milk from strike-bound farmers. Scouting parties of IRA volunteers were used to roam the hinterland to prevent striking workers from attacking strike-bound farmers and prevent the smashing of farm machinery. It has also been suggested that the IRA shopped the leaders of the strike to the RIC as during the strike the homes of several strike leaders were raided and the striking workers arrested - however I had not been able to find any confrmation that this was the case so it is likely to have been a rumour started by the striking workers to undermine the strike breaking role of local IRA volunteers.

In August 1921 workers in Bruree Co. Limerick at the Cleeves owned Bruree Flour Mills occupied the plant and established what became known as the Bruree Soviet. The workers ran the Mills and in effect the entire town for over two weeks. The Cleeve Brothers (a prominent unionist family in Limerick) contact the SF leadership and asked for assistance. Markiewicz was instructed to seek a meeting with the leadership of the ITGWU to seek the withdrawl of the occupation. When the local workers found out they went ballistic and refused to move resulting in Markiewicz instructing the IRA to remove the occupying workers. As a result of the arrival of IRA troops the workers agreed to leave the premises. The direct result of this was to severely sour relations between local members of the ITGWU and local IRA units, an animosity that was to boil over during a farm labourers strike three months later.

In September 1921 a strike broke out involving fisheries workers at the Castleconnell fisheries owned by SF councillor Anthony Mackey. Mackey had repeatedly promised to increase wages but failed to do so. Mackey contacted the SF leadership and asked for action to be taken against the workers. Initially they refused but when the workers occupied the fisheries at the begining of December (establishing the Castleconnell Soviet) Markiewicz ordered the IRA to remove the occupying workers. The workers made it clear they would refuse to leave, with the ITGWU threatening a general strike if the IRA attempted to remove the workers. Mackey diffused the stand-off by finally paying the workers their wage increase. However the workers again threatened to occupy the plant when Mackey refused to re-hire all the striking workers. Mackey backed down again in order to prevent an escalation of the dispute. Subsequently the local Dail court demanded the occupying workers to pay Mackey £60 rent for when they occupied the plant - not surprisingly the workers refused and eventually Mackey agreed to write off the rent in lieu of wages for the workers during the strike.

In November 1921 farm labourers around Bulgaden between Bruree and Kilmallock - violence broke out almost immediately with the farmers. Widespread damage was caused and striking workers organised defensive picket crews to protect themselves against local IRA volunteers who backed the farmers (again not surprising given the fact that many of the volunteers were farmers sons). The leader of the strike-bound farmers was a guy called Laffen, the SF chairman of Limerick Co. Council. He demanded the IRA act 'in the defence of property'. On the night of 12 November a group of strikers smashed a milk seperator belonging to one of the farmers. The following morning the IRA arrested four strikers they thought were involved. In response the ITGWU called a general strike in Kilmallock. The strike shut down the entire town and 300 workers marched through the town carrying a red banner demanding the immediate release of the strikers. The following day with tensions rising the IRA released the strikers and the general strike ended. IRA troops were now protecting strike-bound creameries manned by farmers in order to facilitate the processing of milk supplies.

At the begining of January a series of tit-for-tat kidnappings took place. The strikers kidnapped a farmer named O'Donnell and in retalaition the IRA kidnapped the leader of the strike Michael Lenihan. The IRA held Lenihan for over a week before releasing him. Immediately after the IRA declared marshall law, drafted 200 volunteers into the area and broke the strike.


Everything outlined here is based on historical research that I have carried out myself and I have repeatedly in the past given references for all of this material (if you go to the archives you will actually find the telegram from Cleeve's asking for assistance). This information is readily available to anyone wishing to use it. The fact is that the pro-and anti-revisionist historians have no use for this material - it doesn't serve any purpose for them.


Not true - The information that I have provided here is but a small part of academic works that has been published and part that is still to be published. I have addressed all aspects of working class history in that, including the role of the British and the RIC. In these posts I was addressing specifically the claim that SF/IRA were somehow supportive of the working class, were somehow and to some degree left-wing and that there was no prospect of a left led movement or a potentially socialist revolutionary situation in Ireland during this period. And yes - the free state troops were more blatant about strike-breaking than the pre-treaty IRA were.


The record for the period is quite clear - workers in the British based unions were amongst the most left-wing in the country. The Sinn Fein leadership were absolutely terrified of the potential posed by the left. They consciously organised right-wing 'Irish' unions in an attempt to undermine the left. This is ironic in that the one union that played the the most prominent role in undermining the British war effort, the Railway Workers union, was a British union. The most blatant and most successful attempt to split the unions was the formation of the Irish Engineering Union. One of the leading people in the formation of the IEU was James Carr, a SF member who had a deep seated hatred of the ITGWU. Sinn Fein established the IEU in order to split the Amalgamated Engineering Union on a right wing nationalist basis. They planned on using the IRA to deal with any workers within the AEU who attempted to prevent the split or if any action was taken by the British leadership against workers who joined the IEU. the IEU eventually recruited about 800 of the 4,500 AEU members - the vast majority in Limerick where Carr was based. Subsequently the IEU was used consciously by SF in an attempt to break a strike by 600 workers in the Cleeve's plant in Landsdowne in Limerick at the begining of 1922 that was part of the Munster soviets.
Interesting post, some good information about conflicts between the farm labourers and farmers down in Muster. Like all struggles for national independence, there were people of different outlooks in it. I remember reading in Ernie O'Malley's On Another Man's Wound how he and other IRA men ( rightly ) questioned if Arthur Griffith was a Republican at all well before the Treaty. Needless to say characters like Cosgrave, Kevin O'Higgins ( a former Redmonite ) etc were conservative Gombeen men. But the IRA in general were the men and woman of no property, it's wrong to try and protray the national struggle as some sort of stooges and heavy's carrying out the wishes of the better off like the fascists in Italy, Spain etc

But I have a bit of an issue with the labeling of both sides in these disputes. I'm sure that the labourers had IRA and SF members in their ranks and the vast majority of their members would have been supporters of the IRA. Possibly even more so in proportion to the landowners many of whom would have leant more to Redmonism etc

My point been, instead of labeling it a labourers v IRA issue - would it be more accurate to say left sympathy's IRA v right sympathy's IRA ?
 
Last edited:


New Threads

Top