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This week sees the 94th anniversary of an important event in Labour and Limerick history


Boss Croker

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Limerick Soviet is now on Facebook and Twitter

This week sees the 94th anniversary of an important event in Labour and Limerick history – the Limerick General Strike, or Soviet, of April – May 1919.

The Limerick workers took over and ran the city for almost three weeks, controlling opening hours of shops, regulating food supply and prices, publishing their own newspaper and, indeed, printing their own currency.

The strike began on April 14th 1919 as a protest against British military restrictions on freedom of movement within the city. The previous week had seen a massive military-style funeral for a man named Robert Byrne. He was a leading trade unionist and adjutant of Limerick IRA. He had spent weeks on hunger strike in prison looking for political status and he was fatally wounded during a botched IRA rescue attempt from a local hospital.

The soviet is important because it represents the apogee of Labour influence on the developing struggle for independence. It was defeated because of cowardice on the part of the national union leadership, antagonism by Sinn Féin nationally and the local opposition of the Catholic church. After Limerick, Labour and the unions became bit players in the struggle.

A new Twitter account is providing day-by-day updates on the soviet as it happened. The page to follow on Twitter is https://twitter.com/LimerickSoviet or @LimerickSoviet. There is a corresponding page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheLimerickSoviet1919

Social media is a great way to spread knowledge and information, especially to people in younger age groups. Teachers in history classes and students doing Leaving Cert projects will find these pages to be a great resource. There is also a free online copy of an excellent book on the soviet available at Limerick Soviet 1919 - Ireland Labour History
 


cottage_economist

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It's an interesting fact that some people around the time of independence, or the fight for independence, tried to ensure that the Ireland was going to be different enough to be worth fighting for. This was suppressed not only by the British but by the subsequent Free State authorities such as the Special Infantry Group, who were responsible for the closure of the Tourmakedy creamery collective. It seems that while farmers would entitled to own the means of production, industrial workers were not.

Both the pre-Independence liberation movement and the forces fighting for control of Ireland after 1922 were quite determined that Ireland was only going to be a sort of clone of Britain, but with a select group of Irishmen in charge.
 

Hitch 22

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The Limerick Soviet was contemporaneous with similar uprisings and revolitions across Europe as Empires came apart at the seams.

Communist revolutions that started 1917-1924
Bolshevik Revolution - USSR (1917–1991)
November Revolution in Germany (1918–1919)
Bavarian Soviet Republic (1919)
Hungarian Revolution (1919)
Biennio Rosso (1919–1920)
September Uprising (Bulgaria) (1923)
Mongolian People's Republic - Mongolia (1924–1992)
Counter-revolutions against USSR that started 1917-1921
White movement (1917–1923)
Left SR uprising (1918)
Kuban People's Republic (1918–1920)
Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus (1917–1920)
Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918–1921)
Democratic Republic of Armenia (1918–1920)
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918–1920)
Left-wing uprisings against the Bolsheviks (1918–1922)
Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (1918–1922)
Tambov Rebellion (1920–1921)
Kronstadt rebellion (1921)
Soviet counter-counter-revolutions that started 1918-1919
Russian Civil War (1917–1923)
Red Terror (1918)
Polish–Soviet War (1919–1921)
Revolutions of 1917

The Black and Tans and Auxiliaries made up of ex-British servicemen have close parallels in the German Freikorps which was used to crush communist revolution in post-Kaiser Germany.

The British Communist Party was set up in 1920 at the same time as the British were trying to suppress the Irish revolution.

Communist Party of Great Britain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Perhaps if Germans had won World War I, there would have been an equivalent of Versailles except Britain would have faced what Germany did post-war - the loss of its Empire and massive reparations including the fall of the monarchy?

There would not just have been revolution in Ireland but revolution in England, Wales and Scotland.

Indeed at the height of War of Independence there was significant support from the English left in Britain which played a major role in force the British government to talk to Irish republicans.

One can imagine Soviets being established in Glasgow and the north of England, a new Commune in Paris. This could even have happened in New York, dominated as it was by immigrant groups who were either highly radicalized or anti-British. It is unlikely that any of these rebellions would have succeeded in establishing durable Communist regimes in the West, however. The Soviets established in Germany and Eastern Europe after the war did not last, even though the central government had dissolved. In putting down such uprisings, France might have experienced a bout of military dictatorship, not unlike the Franco era in Spain, and Britain might have become a republic.

Still, although the public life of these countries would have been polarized and degraded, they would probably have remained capitalist democracies. The U.S., one suspects, would have reacted to the surrender or forced withdrawal of its European expeditionary force by beginning to adopt the attitude toward German-dominated Europe which it did later in the century toward the victorious Soviet Union. Britain, possibly with its empire in premature dissolution, would have been forced to seek a strong Atlantic alliance. As for the Soviet Union in this scenario, it is hard to imagine the Germans putting up with its existence after it had served its purpose.

Doubtless some surviving Romanov could have been put on the throne of a much- diminished Russia. If no Romanov was available, Germany has never lacked for princelings willing to be sent abroad to govern improvised countries.
First World War.com - Feature Articles - If Germany Had Won World War 1...
 

Boss Croker

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