From Sinn Féin, September 30th, 1911.
The English allies of Mr. James Larkin have shot their bolt and missed. Their call to the railwaymen of Ireland to come out on strike while the British brethren remained at work handling the ‘blackleg goods’ that the Irishmen were adjured not to ‘degrade their manhood’ by touching, has been treated by two-thirds of the railwaymen of Ireland with the contempt honest men feel for a trickster’s counsel. In the last stage of their desperate effort to exploit the mere Irish, one of the English invaders solemnly promised the Dundalk men that the British brethren would be brought out in sympathy on Monday morning. On Monday morning, the Dundalk railwaymen came out and the British brethren stayed in. On Wednesday evening, as we write, the British brethren are still in. And in they will remain. Six weeks ago when the Irish railwaymen struck in sympathy with the British railwaymen we wrote that no living man would see the day when the English railwaymen would strike in sympathy with the Irish railwaymen. The test has been applied and our prophecy proven correct. In the whole length and breadth of Great Britain not a railwayman has left work to stand by the Irishmen who stood by him – not one shrieking advocate of Socialism has advised the English railwaymen to refuse handling ‘blackleg goods’ from Ireland. The political Union of Ireland with England was defined by a witty man as the Union of the Shark with its prey. The union of the Irish railwaymen with the railwaymen of England supplies another illustration for the definition.
If the patriotism and sense two-thirds of the Irish railwaymen have shown and the bitter betrayal the remainder have experienced results in the establishment of an independent Irish railwaymen’s union, officered by genuine Irish railway workmen, the final result will be good for Ireland, although a thousand Irish homes have been wrecked, and tens of thousands of Irish homes impoverished by the Englishmen who aimed a deadly blow at Ireland’s growing prosperity. This blow has failed to destroy it but it has inflicted injury that two years will not repair. But the English dictators have learned something of Ireland in the last few days that they never knew before. They are going back to the place whence they came discredited men, and the nation that sacrificed Admiral Byng because he failed will settle its accounts with them in the Byng fashion. They are beaten men. One of them on Sunday shook his fist at the green flag the guard of a railway train waved as it passed by the spot where the Britons were exhorting the Irishmen to strike while the Englishmen remained at work. The green flag has had a lot of English fists shaken at it but it waves to-day over the rout of the old enemy in his new dress.
We observe that the British Lord Lieutenant of this country has turned down Mr. James Larkin, for whom he was once wont to send his own motor-car. It is now according to this remarkable General-Governor and Governor-General of Ireland ‘a scandalous fabrication’ to say that he ever suggested the railway companies should meet Mr. James Larkin. It may be a fabrication, but why is it ‘scandalous’ now in the view of Lord Aberdeen to say that he asked persons to meet a man with whom in the public eye he has been more than once associated? If there is nothing wrong with Mr. Larkin there is nothing scandalous in the statement, whether it be correct or incorrect, that Lord Aberdeen asked the railway companies to receive him. As to ourselves, we frankly stated what we thought of Mr. Larkin when he arrived in Dublin three years ago fresh from his career of destruction in the North and South, and Mr. Larkin has been busily employed in justifying our estimate of him ever since. He has plunged Wexford in want and woe, and he is now leading his followers in Dublin to the same fate he led the unfortunate men in Cork. A correspondent whose vision can see in Mr. Larkin a resemblance to Parnell and an analogy between the fight of the Irish nation for the restoration of its soil and the disputes common to every country between employers and employed, attributes to us ‘a practical denial to the Wexford workmen of the right to join a particular trade union,’ by which description he intends to denote the Union of which Mr. Larkin is the Boss and the Prophet. Let us tell our correspondent that Mr. Larkin’s is not a particular trade union, but an organisation which, as he boasts, intends to comprise all the unskilled workers of Ireland without distinction, and which asserts the right if an employer and his workmen quarrel in any one town in Ireland to call out the workmen in every town in Ireland and in every department of Irish industry – to paralyse all trade and commerce and hold up all the activities of the country. We tell our correspondent that that is not and never was trades-unionism – that it is the Syndicalism of the French Revolutionary Socialists which the Republican Government crushed a year ago. The mask of trades-unionism has been used to cover the introduction of this Syndicalism whose weapon is the sympathetic strike and whose method is terrorism. Trades-unionism stands by displeased but too timid to openly face the blustering demagogues and pinchbeck terrorists who would involve Ireland in a servile war. It is time truly, for these men to speak out and disabuse the public mind, in which rapidly prejudice against trades-unionism is growing from the notion that trades-unionism and Revolutionary Socialism are the same thing.
When Mr. Larkin has left Dublin as he left Belfast and Cork, and his followers have realised that his leadership was the leadership of the blind, the name of trades-unionists will be in bad odour if the genuine trades-unionists of Ireland permit by their silence the impression to gain ground that there is any connection between the perfectly legitimate and laudable combination of men of particular trades to advance their interests and the Communism of Monsieur Pataud, which has for its applier in Ireland Mr. James Larkin.
Too far east is west, and socialist revolution is succeeded by autocracy. The French Revolution was followed by a Napoleon, and if there had been no Napoleon to choose a lesser man but as great a despot would have been chosen. The worst enemies of liberty are those who invoking its name would seek to carry out their ideas by inaugurating a reign of terror against the majority. The majority always survives and embraces an ordered despotism to preserve itself against a disordered one. That is the history of man in all civilised ages.
If trades-unionism becomes identified in the public eye with the borrowed policy and methods of Mr. James Larkin trades-unionism will suffer a severer set-back in Ireland than it has ever experienced. That would be an effect which we would deplore, for we believe a well-organised and led Irish trades unionism would be one of the stoutest supports to the future Ireland and the best factor for advancing the interests of the Irish workingman and maintaining harmony between employer and employed. Such a trade-unionism would, in our judgment, form a solid barrier against the exploitation of this country by adventurers and doctrinaires whose ultimate message to man is to give up his God, his country, his family and his property and be happy.
Against the Red flag of Communism which those responsible for the chaos into which Ireland has been plunged have not had the courage to unfold, we raise the Flag of an Irish Nation. Under that flag there will be protection, safety, and freedom for all. Tyranny, whether it be the tyranny of the capitalist or of the demagogic terrorist will find no shelter beneath the folds of the Irish nation’s flag. And for those who would bid this country bend the knee to the bloody idol of anarchy there is no room beneath a nation’s flag. The man who injures Ireland, whether he does it in the name of Imperialism or of Socialism, is Ireland’s enemy. The man who serves her whether he be a capitalist or a labourer, is her friend. Ireland lives to-day because not men of one class but men of all classes spent their lives in her service, and the man who tells the Irish people that Ireland must use all her energies to combat any foe other than the people of England who stand between Ireland and self-government, tells them the lie that maintains foreign rule in this country and keeps poverty enthroned in the most fertile island that the hand of God planted in the bosom of the Atlantic.