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1974 Radio documentary on The Limerick Soviet August 29, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish History, The Left.
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RTE Radios Documentary on One series recently rebroadcast Kevin O’Connors 1974 documentary on The Limerick Soviet.

Well worth a listen.

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1. Padraig Yeates - August 30, 2012

Thanks. Have re-posted on 1913 Committee site

2. Jolly Red Giant - August 30, 2012

Interesting and informative documentary that is historically more accurate than some other works on the Soviet – the recollections of those involved and their relatives are vaulable.

There are inaccuracies – mainly from Kemmy’s comments.

Robert Byrne was not an active trade unionist in Limerick – he was the secretary of the post office clerks union but the Trades Council records show that he only ever attended one meeting of the Council – where his dismissal from the post office was discussed.

The Soviet was driven not by the leaders of the rather more conservative craft unions – but by the members of the significantly more radical ITGWU and IDWU. The three leaders Kemmy discusses Cronin, Casey and Carr had, in effect, to be bounced into calling the general strike under pressure from the ITGWU. Carr was later to become an arch right-winger playing a prominent role in the establishment of the nationalist IEU as part of SF’s attempt to split the trade union movement along national lines and was actively involved in scabbing on the Munster Soviets in 1922. Kemmy’s attitude was probably impacted by the his won craft background.

Finally, Kemmy singificantly overemphasises the ‘Catholic/Nationalist’ nature of the strike. There is little evidence of this – in fact the evidence is actually the opposite.

The documentary claims that there was opposition to the calling of the general strike by workers in other part of the country – and also later by the British based unions. This is false – there was widespread support around the country for the Soviet. Furthermore, while the NUR leadership in Britain opposed supporting the Soviet, the NUR membership in Ireland actively supported the strike and contradictory to what Kemmy claims – NUR branches in Ireland offered to go on strike in support of the Soviet but this offer was rejected in a public statement by Cronin on the basis that the ILPTUC leadership were ‘planning something big’.

Kemmy was correct that the Soviet could not have survived in isolation but his analysis for the failure of the Soviet is false – the primary reason for the collapse of the Soviet was the abject failure of the leadership of the ILPTUC to back the Soviet in anything other than pious rhetoric.

Overall this is a welcome addition to the growing body of labour history from this period and a mecessary re-establishment of the true traditions of the labour movement in this country.

3. limerickslife - November 10, 2012

Very interesting, thank you for sharing this.


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