I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Labour Waits

Padraig Yeates
Irish Socialist Republicanism 1909-36, by Adrian Grant, Four Courts Press, 228 pp, €50, ISBN: 978-1846823619 This is one book that can be judged by its cover. Adrian Grant makes a strong case for the compatibility of socialism and republicanism. But then, socialism and nationalism have often been highly compatible and republicanism, for all its distinctive characteristics, remains a sub-set of Irish nationalism. Grant’s insistence that splits between left-republicans, radical socialists and communists in the late 1920s and 1930s were based on “practicalities” not theoretical differences is well argued, but if the problem was one of semantics why was it so difficult to find a basis for political action? He himself admits that the project was partly thrown off course by the Third International’s class against class strategy and by the Soviet Union’s anti-clerical drive in the critical period from 1929. But flaws in the analysis go right back to the assertion that Larkin’s arrival in Ireland and the establishment of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union heralded the advent of a united Labour movement with a socialist republic as its goal and a capacity to win leadership of the radical nationalist movement. As Grant acknowledges, the impetus for the Irish Trade Union Congress to form a Labour Party in 1912 was to ensure representation in the long anticipated Home Rule parliament, not to campaign for an Irish Republic. Likewise there is considerable retrospection applied to his accounts of the 1913 Lockout, which is characterised as a precursor to the struggle for independence. Grant repeats the hoary myth that the strike failed in large part because the TUC refused to undertake sympathetic strike action in Britain. The reality is that the lockout would never have assumed epic proportions if Ireland had not been part of the United Kingdom. It was blatant police brutality on Bloody Sunday, the eve of the TUC conference in Manchester that transformed Dublin into the cockpit of a class struggle that echoed the British strike waves of the previous three years. To some extent the TUC and the British Shipping Federation were continuing their war through Irish proxies. There is no denying that specific conditions in Dublin contributed to the particular ferocity of the dispute, or that it played a vital role in radicalising nationalists such as Padraig Pearse and Eamonn Ceannt. In fact every signatory of the 1916 Proclamation gave public support to the strikers….

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