Civil War and Retreat, 1921-24
1. Post-War slump
2. The Nationalist State realized
3. Liam Mellows and call to Labour
4. Larkin and the Labour movement
1. The Post-War slump
- During 1921, Irish manufacturing trade almost halved. By December, over 26 per
cent of workers were idle
- In Britain, wages were ‘getting back to normal’ following the collapse of the Triple
Alliance of railwaymen, miners and transport unions on ‘Black Friday’ and the
subsequent isolation and defeat of the miners’ strike against pay cuts
BLACK FRIDAY - 21 April 1921
- Triple Alliance: the NUR, the
National Transport Workers'
Federation, and the Miners'
Federation of Great Britain
- Decision by the transport and
rail unions in Great Britain not to
support the miners in their strike
- Black Friday refers to the sense
of betrayal felt by ordinary trade
union members within the unions
- Union leadership went for
sectional interests over class
1. The Post-War slump
- In Ireland, particularly the South, the effect of ‘Black Friday’ was limited by the
political and military situation
- Not possible to deploy troops to break trade unions due to the Anglo-Irish truce,
July-December 1921, and subsequent civil war.
- August 1921, Trade Union Congress pledges to ‘hold the harvest’ of wage gains,
and to prioritise unity in the impending struggle.
“The Irish Labour Party has advised that in all industries where notice of reduction in
wages or attacks on working conditions are made, all the unions in this trade or that
industry should come together… and pledge themselves to stand firmly to the bitter
Tom Foran, ILP&TUC president, August 1921
- 22 August 1921. Carrigan Tribunal
- December 1921 – Carrigan report
- finds in favour of wage reductions
and extenstion of hours
- 10 February 1922 – Carrigan Tribunal
suspended for six months
2. The Nationalist State realised
- October 1921, abolition of the
Agricultural Wages Board
- 7 January 1922 – ratification of the
- 26 March ‘22 – IRA members meet
and vote to repudiate the treaty. Led
by Liam Mellows and Rory O’Connor.
- 14 April ‘22 – anti-treaty forces led
by O’Connor and Mellows seize the
Four Courts, Dublin.
- 28 June ‘22 – Collins orders the
shelling of the Four Courts, seen as
definitive start to the Civil War
2. The Nationalist State realised
- 8 December 1922, Rory O'Connor, Liam
Mellows, Dick Barrett and Joe McKelvey are
executed in retaliation for the killing of Seán
- 24 May 1923 – Frank Aiken and Eamon
deValera call on anti-treaty forces to disarm and
"Further sacrifice on your part would now be in
vain and the continuance of the struggle in arms
unwise in the national interest. Military victory
must be allowed to rest for the moment with
those who have destroyed the Republic"
3. Liam Mellows and the Call to Labour
NOTES FROM MOUNTJOY
- a series of three letters -the first letter is dated 25 August, the
second 29 August and the third 9 September 1922) about the
current crisis of Republicanism.
1. The Programme of Democratic control (the social
programme) - should be translated into something definite.
This is essential if the great body of workers are to be kept on
the side of Independence - This does not require a change of
outlook on the part of Republicans, or the adoption of a
revolutionary programme as such. The headline is there in the
Declaration of 1919. It is already part of the Republican policy. It
should be made clear what is meant by it. Would suggest
therefore that it be interpreted something like the following
which appeared in the Workers' Republic of July 22nd last.
- is well to note that the I.R.A. Executive had already taken up
the question of the demesnes and ranches and had adopted a
scheme for their confiscation and distribution.
In view of unprincipled attacks of the Labour Party, and
because of the landless and homeless Irish Republican soldiers
who fought against Britain, it might be well to publish this
scheme in whole or in part.
We should certainly keep Irish Labour for the Republic: it will be
possibly the biggest factor on our side. Anything that will
prevent Irish Labour becoming Imperialist and "respectable"
will help the Republic. As a sidelight on Johnson, O'Brien,
O'Shannon and Co. it will interest you to know that when they
called on us in the Four Courts last May they (particularly
Johnson) remarked that no effort had been made to put the
Democratic Programme into execution.
In our efforts now to win back public support to the Republic we are forced
to recognise - whether we like it or not- that the commercial interest, so
called, money and the gombeen men are on the side of the Treaty, because
the Treaty means Imperialism and England.
We are back to Tone - and it is just as well-relying on that great body "the
men of no property".
The "stake in the country" people were never with the Republic. They are
not with it now-and they will always be against it- until it wins. We should
recognise that definitely now and base our appeals upon the understanding
and needs of those who have always borne Ireland's fight.
Even though the decision of the election of 1918 stands; even though the
Declaration of Independence remains a fact; even though the election of
June 1922 was an "agreed election" at which no issue was put or decided,
yet, because of the interpetation put upon it by the Treatyites… it is
essential that the Republic be over again affirmed by the people as soon as
When that may be no one can tell, but we cannot look too far ahead, in the
meantime the Provisional Republican Government should endeavour to