Labour in County Louth, 1912–1923
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If the history of the Irish revolution 1912–23 is written as an armed struggle between the IRA and the Crown forces then Co. Louth, as one of the less active areas, would seem to be disengaged from the revolution. However, the strength of the national mobilisation in 1919–23 cannot be measured by IRA activity alone. Labour militancy, whilst supportive of the abstract nationalism of the republican movement, mobilised the working class on concrete and specific grievances, which it was expected, the republic would address. In the course of the Irish revolution, labour resistance to the British state at local level in Co. Louth was organised in direct action, in non-violent strikes, embargoes and in civil disobedience. When the working class organises itself as ‘labour’, the objective is to achieve better wages and working conditions. But militancy on wages is never about wages alone. It is also about a better and more secure future. This, as it seemed to some in Ireland in the years 1912–23, may be through revolutionary struggle to establish a completely new society, but for most workers it is usually through trade union mobilisation to confront capital or through political mobilisation to drive state action in support of the working class.
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