4 September 2003 Edition
People's pageant celebrates 1913 Lock-Out
THE 90th anniversary of the battle for trade union rights in a tragic yet heroic period of Irish history that has become known as the 1913 Lock-Out was celebrated and commemorated in a community pageant in Dublin at the weekend.
The conflict between 'Big Jim' Larkin's ITGWU and the employers - led by William Martin Murphy, owner of the Irish Independent and the Irish Catholic, and aided by the Catholic Church - was to last five months and resulted in deaths, police baton charges against strikers, riots and hardship among working-class families in Dublin's tenement slums.
Last weekend, the people of Dublin, actors, musicians, trade unionists and politicians came together under the banner of the Dublin City Folklore Centre, and with the backing of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and SIPTU, to ensure that this epic struggle was remembered.
Two hundred people in period costume, led by 'Big Jim' Larkin and Constance Markievicz in a horse-drawn carriage and flanked by armed Irish Citizen Army Volunteers, paraded from near Connolly Station to Liberty Hall. At the trade union headquarters, Larkin addressed his supporters, only to be seized by the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary, who then baton charged Larkin's supporters. Martyrs and leading figures of 1913 were played by local politicians, including Sinn Féin Councillor Christy Burke, in historic drama, readings and song celebrating the spirit of resistance.
This 'people's pageant' achieved widespread TV, radio and newspaper coverage. Its strength came from the commitment, drive and imagination of the same Dublin inner city community from which Larkin drew his inspiration. One of the organisers, Terry Fagan, said:
"It is important for communities to take ownership and mark such events in our history, to reclaim our history. History didn't just shape our past - it shapes our present and our future.
"The need for justice and equality in Irish society is as real today, 90 years on, as it was in 1913."