The revolt of the Ennis labourers: Workers' Liberty 3/35


Submitted by Matthew on 17 November, 2011 - 5:55

In the evolution of civilisation, the progress of the fight for national liberty of any subject nation must, perforce, keep pace with the struggle for liberty of the most subject class in that nation.

James Connolly

The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
and though gentle, have served churls.

Patrick Pearse

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood.

Thomas Gray


Submitted by Matthew on Sun, 20/11/2011 - 08:51

The article is about the Ennis labourers in Ireland in the early 1930's. The bit about the Shrewsbury trials is an aside about how the author came to know more about the events, hence not really the place to discuss the evolution of Ricky Tomlinson's politics.

I don't know anyone on the left who denies that as a young man Tomlinson was involved with the far right, including Tomlinson himself who in interviews has spoken thoughtfully about how it was a result of poverty and lack of education and how he later became a socialist.

"One would have felt that the left could have favoured a less unsavoury person to have championed."? It was the bosses who chose to victimise Tomlinson and his co-defendants. Maybe you think the left should pick and choose which victimised workers to defend according to whether they have racist, sexist or homophobic ideas?

What the bosses objected to about the picketing - and you too it seems by your uncritical quoting of the appeal judge - was that it was effective: large numbers of pickets moving between sites shutting them down and where necessary the equipment too. Scabs were "put in fear"? Good, that was the idea!

Submitted by Matthew on Sun, 20/11/2011 - 16:10

I said that I didn't know anyone on the left who denied Tomlinson's involvement with the far right. I didn't know that the WRP had in the mid-70's but given its regime I can well accept what you say is true.

Tomlinson joined the NF in 1968 after Powell's Rivers of Blood speech when he was 28, still a relatively young man I'd say, and left in 1972 as he became more involved in trade union activity. In this 2003 interview he explains why he joined and why he left:

"I realised that by attacking immigration I was looking for a scapegoat for this country's ills. When you're at the bottom of the greasy pole, mired in shit, you're always looking for someone else to blame...I believed certain things in 1968 and I don't believe them any more. I was wrong. I was politically naive and poorly educated."

I don't "champion violence" as you say but neither do I champion "picketing" that is ineffective whether because of lack of numbers, respect for private property or not doing anything that might "put fear" into scabs.

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1. 1933. Ennis: the town. Background: Ireland's two revolutions

Submitted by Matthew on 17 November, 2011 - 5:50

Ennis, Christmas Eve 1933

On Christmas Eve, 24 December 1933, in the West of Ireland town of Ennis, County Clare, members of the Gardai visited 26 labourers. They handed each one of them a summons to appear in Court on charges of intimidation, assault, and conspiracy, in mid-January 1934.

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2. Communism in Ireland

Submitted by Matthew on 17 November, 2011 - 5:49

Communism in Ireland

What of communism in Ireland? James Connolly, whose whole history suggests that he would have rallied to the Russian Revolution and joined in the work of building the new Communist International, was of course dead 18 months before the Bolshevik Revolution. Jim Larkin, who would join the Communist International, was in America, and in the last part of his stay there, in jail. He would not return to Ireland until 1923.

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3. The Ennis bourgeoisie and the Ennis workers

Submitted by Matthew on 17 November, 2011 - 5:48

The Ennis bourgeoisie

The fact that the Irish national bourgeoisie did not lead the national movement in 1916 and after did not inhibit them from from creating a thickly mythological account of Irish history as a nationalist, or ethnic-sectarian, heroic and unrelenting struggle for freedom.

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4. De Valera’s “Second Revolution” and the working class

Submitted by Matthew on 17 November, 2011 - 5:46

De Valera’s “Second Revolution” and the working class

In power after the war of independence and the civil war, the Irish bourgeoisie cut back on the elements of a welfare state that had been developed in the old United Kingdom.

A wit said of the Sinn Fein faction that had won the civil war and had taken the name Cumann na nGaedheal (clan or gathering of the Irish): “come in a gale, go in a storm”.

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