Wednesday, March 08, 2006

From 'AP/RN' , August 10th , 1989 .
(No 'By-Line')

In Ireland in the late 1960's , Sean Lemass's 'economic miracle' was proving to be a mirage : unemployment and emigration soared again .

The new post de Valera , post Lemass Fianna Fail had a deep identity and leadership crisis : it was all to culminate in 1989 with the entry of the party into a coalition for the first time in its history . That most 'sacred' Fianna Fail 'principle' of all - its divine 'right' to rule alone , as the only party representing the 'national' interest - joined all the abandoned Fianna Fail 'principles' of decades on the rubbish heap .

It is impossible to understand Fianna Fail without understanding the politics of de Valera : often described as an 'enigma' and an almost mythical or mystical figure , his aura pervaded the life of the State and gave Fianna Fail its essential character . In fact , behind the 'mask' , de Valera was a skilled politician who used the loyalty he instilled in his supporters to build a strong centrally controlled party which had no equal in the country .

His position of leadership in the National struggle began almost by chance because of the fact that he was the senior surviving commander of the Republican forces in the 1916 Rising .......

1913 : 75 YEARS AFTER THE LOCK-OUT .......
From 'Liberty News' , March/April 1988 .
(No 'By-Line' )

Dublin lacked an industrial base , and work in 1913 was generally of a casual nature with poor trade union organisation and slave wages ; a third of the city's teeming population inhabited the city centre tenement slums - the overcrowding , squalor and inadequate sanitation combined with poor diet to give Dublin one of the highest infant death rates in Europe .

Violence and prostitution were further evidence of the degraded but desperate condition of many of the population . It was , in many ways , an unlikely seed-bed for trade-unionism : the social system was typified by insecurity of employment , personal daily struggles for survival and the frequent indifference of the longer established , but conservative , craft trade unions . The 'New Unionism' , marked by its organisation of the unskilled and socialist zeal , had enjoyed a brief flourish in Dublin of the 1890's but the odds were heavily stacked against permanent success and many union organisations had become moribund .

With James Larkin's arrival in Ireland as Organiser for the National Union of Dock Labourers the waterfront workers rose again , firstly in Belfast in 1907 and subsequently in other Irish ports . Disagreement with the National Union of Dock Labourers ' Liverpool Executive led to Larkin's suspension and the launch of a specialist Dublin-based unskilled workers union , the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union : from the beginning the new union proclaimed in its rule book a wide programme of industrial and political agitation to change society in the interests of the Irish working class . The employers would not be silent observers .......

A poem by Thomas Kinsella , written after Bloody Sunday .
From 'IRIS' magazine , March 1983 .

Bloody sputum filled his throat ,
he stopped and coughed to clear it out ,
and finished , with his eyes a-glow :
'You came , you saw , you conquered ... So .
You gorged - and it was time to go .

Good riddance ! We'd forget - released -
but for the rubbish of your feast :
the slops and scraps that fell to earth
and sprang to arms in dragon birth .

Sashed and bowler-hatted , glum ,
Apprentices of fife and drum ,
high and dry , abandoned guards
of dismal streets and empty yards ,
drilled at the codeword 'True Religion'
to strut and mutter like a pigeon -
"Not An Inch-Up The Queen !" :
Who use their walls like a latrine
for scribbled magic - at their call ,
straight from the nearest music-hall ,
Pope and Devil intertwine ,
two cardboard kings appear , and join
in one more battle by the Boyne !