Dignified Protest in Clonmel at Labour Party Hypocrisy – Honouring James Connolly and Jim Larkin
We publish below a Report from Séamus Healy TD on Protests marking the 100th anniversary of the all-Ireland Labour party founded by James Connolly and Jim Larkin.
See also an Irish Times account of the same event,
Dignified Protest in Clonmel at Labour Party Hypocrisy
A dignified and successful protest organised by the Workers and Unemployed Action Group was held outside the Town Hall Clonmel on Sunday last , May 27 2012.
The event was organised to protest against the savage austerity being imposed on the Irish people by the Labour Party in Government and to expose the claim that the Labour Party of today has anything in common with the all-Ireland Labour party founded by James Connolly and Jim Larkin in Clonmel 100 years ago.
As is now usual the Labour Party was in hiding, they had run away again, cancelling the ceremony and sneaking into the Town Hall ‘earlier’ for a private unveiling. Three weeks ago Eamonn Gilmore and the Labour Leadership ran away, pulling out of the Clonmel Commemoration and giving the pathetic excuse of the Referendum.
This time the excuse was even more bizarre and unbelievable. The excuse this time was “security concerns”. The suggestion was that the Gardaí had advised Labour to cancel the ceremony. The Gardaí have confirmed publicly that they did not advise this and of course the protest proceeded peacefully and without incident, as was always going to be the case.
The real reason for the cancellation was because Labour are afraid to face the public because of the savage austerity being enforced by Labour in Government; because they have cynically broken their election promises; because “Labour’s way is now Frankfurt’s way”. They are afraid to face the public of South Tipperary and Clonmel because Labour in Government have closed Kickham Barracks and the Labour Minister of State Kathleen Lynch T.D. has signed off on the closure of St. Michael’s Acute Psychiatric Unit at South Tipperary General Hospital.
Connolly and Larkin proposed the formation of a 32-county Labour Party to the Irish TUC in 1912 in order to improve the conditions of Irish workers by political means and to provide worker representation in the promised Home Rule parliament. To-day in coalition government the Labour Party is doing the exact opposite.
What would James Connolly and Jim Larkin think of a Labour Party presiding over; cuts to child benefit, 100,000 children living in consistent poverty, a quarter of children going to school hungry, the targeting of children with disabilities, cuts to heating allowances for the elderly, cuts to the free fuels scheme for the elderly, wage cuts, forced emigration, health cuts and closures, patients on trolleys, education cuts, attacks on small schools, home and water taxes and the super-rich not paying their fair share. Now Labour is supporting a Treaty which will spread poverty all over Europe and further poverty throughout Ireland. The treaty will dilute the national sovereignty for which Connolly fought and died. Even their sister parties in France and Germany have refused to ratify the Austerity Treaty in its current form.
We all know there is only one answer to that question. James Connolly and Jim Larkin are turning in their graves. Today’s Labour Party has nothing in common with those men.
Connolly, Larkin and The Irish Trade Union Congress were invited to hold their annual Conference in Clonmel in 1912 by the Clonmel Trades and Labour Council in 1912 and its affiliate unions, including the A.T.G.W.U. In a direct link with that historic invitation the current President of Clonmel Trades and Labour Council and the current Chairman of the Clonmel Unite Union (formerly the A.T.G.W.U.) were at the protest last Sunday.
The real inheritors of the Connolly tradition were those who last Sunday stood up for ordinary people and opposed the savage austerity being imposed on the public by a Labour Party that has lost its way, forgotten its roots and reneged on everything Connolly and Larkin stood for.
Seamus Healy T.D.
56 Queen Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Labour Party cites ‘security concerns’ for cancellation
Mon, May 28, 2012
THE LABOUR Party has insisted that “security concerns” led to the cancellation of a commemoration to mark its centenary due to be held in the town where the party was founded.
Labour has been accused of “hiding” by an affiliate of the United Left Alliance, which held a separate protest yesterday in Clonmel, designed to coincide with Labour’s unveiling of a plaque.
Mayor of Clonmel Cllr Darren Ryan was due to unveil the plaque at noon yesterday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his party being founded in the town by James Connolly and Jim Larkin.
However, a spokesperson for the party said a “security concern” by gardaí prompted the rescheduling of the event. Local gardaí said they did not tell Labour to call off the ceremony – the decision was made by the mayor.
Séamus Healy TD, of the Workers and Unemployed Action Group, an affiliate of the United Left Alliance, accused the Government party of “hiding” from the protest.
Cllr Ryan said it was his decision to cancel the event and it came after fears were expressed about outside protesters, not members of the action group, jeopardising security.
“I’m a democrat and agree totally that people have a right to protest in a peaceful manner but my understanding is that some people weren’t intending on protesting in a peaceful manner,” he said. “I have a duty as mayor of the town to ensure that the people on the streets are safe and also that the building they call their town hall is safe.”
Up to 200 were due to attend the event at the town hall in Clonmel but, instead, a private ceremony was held early yesterday morning to unveil the plaque.
The Labour mayor denied the decision was made out of fears they would be outnumbered by the action group, which has five members on the local borough council compared to Labour’s one.
“The ceremony that was taking place was above any political party. It’s an historic event and I have people of all political persuasions who agree with me on that.”
Mr Healy said that, as far as the action group was concerned, there was no security risk. “It was always going to be a peaceful protest,” he said. “They’re just hiding.”
Asked if he felt guilty about Labour having to cancel the centenary event, he replied: “Absolutely not. They have nothing in common with the Labour Party that was founded here 100 years ago.”
Labour Party MEP for Ireland South Phil Prendergast said the cancellation was “upsetting” for members. “I feel that, no matter what Séamus Healy and his group think and no matter what people feel about protesting, this is a very historic occasion,” she said.
Ms Prendergast was formerly a member of the action group, as was Cllr Ryan.
© 2012 The Irish Times
This was written by a contributor to the Cedar Lounge Revolution Blog :
I had this sent to me this morning…
Labour’s Clonmel Shame
The centenary of the foundation of Connolly and Larkin’s Labour Party was marked by the unveiling of a plaque in Clonmel’s Town Hall today (Sunday 27th May).
The fact that this unveiling had to happen at 6am behind closed doors bears testament to just how far removed the Labour Party of 2012 is from the defender of the interests of the working class its founders intended it to be; all effort was made to avoid the large numbers of people who turned out to voice their anger at those Labour party policies which are targeting the very people the party was founded to defend.
The protest they wished to avoid did in fact go ahead with a large number of citizens protesting at the Town Hall under the ever-present watchful eye of a large and wholly unnecessary presence of Gardaí, some of whom were obviously armed. Gardaí videoed and photographed while members of their Special Branch wrote down the registration numbers of the vehicles present.
Mike Edwards of éirígí Tipperary described the day’s events as “a good day for those opposed to the anti-worker, anti-people policies of Labour and their partners-in-austerity, Fine Gael. We have shown the Labour Party that they are that in name only – the politics they espouse and practice bear no relationship to the revolutionary socialist politics of Connolly. While they and their fellow-lackeys in Fine Gael continue to implement the diktats of the EU and international Capital, we remain faithful to the noble politics of Connolly. Far from being dissuaded, like him, we too remain faithful to the goal of true social justice. Just like Connolly we too state loudly, proudly and clearly that ‘our demands most modest are, we only want the earth!’.”
At the end of the protest at Clonmel’s Town Hall, éirígí Tipperary held an impromptu picket of the office of Labour MEP Phil Prendergast.
Following the day’s protests the political police once again showed their political bias by stopping, searching and harassing éirígí members.
In concluding Edwards stated how “the tactics used today by the Gardai will not dissuade us from our task of building a movement to achieve the Socialist Republic that Connolly dreamed of and fought and died for”.