jump to navigation

Left Archive: Dublin Unemployed Action Group, c 1980-82 May 9, 2022

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Uncategorized.
trackback

Please click here to go the Left Archive.

This is a fascinating document and many thanks to the person who supplied it. A simple typewritten and photocopied leaflet it advertises a Special Benefit Gig on behalf of the Dublin Unemployed Action Group.

Poison Girls and Xn Trix (a Dublin band) were scheduled to appear to play the gig – entitled Rock ‘N’ Dole part 2, having held an earlier gig that year.

The leaflet notes:

Dublin Unemployed Action Group fights for resistance to job losses, for higher dole payments and for useful well paid work for all who want it. We publish the paper ‘Hard Times, we operate an advice centre for people having hassles with the dole or social welfare and organise activities to defend the interests of unemployed people. We meet every Thursday in the ATGWU office in Marlborough Street, opposite the Abbey Theatre, at 3PM.

Although information online is scant about the DUAG, there is this from the The Undercover Policing Inquiry. This was “set up in 2015 to get to the truth about undercover policing across England and Wales since 1968 and provide recommendations for the future”.

It has an very interesting Special Branch report “enclosing a leaflet and letter from the Secretary of the Dublin Unemployed Action Group to a member of the Right to Work Campaign”. The Right to Work campaign appears to have been initiated by the Socialist Workers Party in Britain.  The exchange of letters was sent to the Metropolitan Police from ‘a secret and reliable source’.

The attached letter from the DUAG seeks advice on organisation and outlines some aspects of the DUAG, including that ‘it consists of only about a dozen unemployed activists… the group is independent of any political party though it can count on the support of the SWM and anarchist groupings’.

We’d be grateful for any more information on the Dublin Unemployed Action Group and in particular a copy of Hard Times.

Comments»

1. Aonrud ⚘ - May 9, 2022

Something slightly off about relying on Special Branch to preserve left history!

I see the Linenhall has one issue of ‘Hard Times’.

The NLI has a ‘Hard Times’ from the 90s attributed to Donycarney Unemployment Action Group – I wonder if there’s any connection?

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2022

Sounds like it. Perhaps a membership that either sought to emulate or had members who had been involved?

Just on the SB stuff, it certainly does strike a jarring note. Then again it’s all material history building into a picture of an org – and it provides a real insight into how left groups and campaigns, however innocuous, were perceived by the state and what that perception was. Anyhow too interesting a link not to post up (and perhaps that’s another area of research, how the state did observe and more groups on the left, for the Archive to keep an eye on?).

Liked by 1 person

Aonrud ⚘ - May 9, 2022

Ah of course, it’s a useful reference. Just a bit disheartening that it seems to be the only other reference online!

Like

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2022

Completely agree. Still, telling isn’t it that that’s what comes up? It must have been the SWP connection?

Like

Aonrud ⚘ - May 9, 2022

Presumably that was it in this case.

It seems odd though that it came out some of the spycops’ activity was in Ireland, but I never heard any diplomatic response to that.

By the way, it reminds me of the (no doubt apocryphal) claim that the Morning Star was at one point kept afloat by the number of issues bought by the security services. The only people with a comprehensive history of the Left are Special Branch 😉

Liked by 2 people

lcox - May 9, 2022

Don’t know why I can’t place my replies in the right place, damn. Aonrud – from memory the Irish cops were probably aware of those more recent (2000s) spycops operating here and there were at least semi-formal arrangements for cross-European cooperation. But then Marx has a comment somewhere about the international of the secret police forces…

Like

lcox - May 9, 2022

Despite the best efforts of the Archive and others, our movement history (especially where it isn’t party or union history) is badly under-researched and patchily covered even for national-level groups never mind for more locally active ones.

No surprises at all that the Branch archives (no doubt here too) are a useful source though I doubt they’re anywhere near exhaustive either!

I read a very nice Italian anarchist pamphlet on the uses and abuses of secret police files for reconstituting the history of anarchism under fascism (of course that also includes many observational notes, interrogation records, statements by informants as well as printed material).

As an aside, this UCC project http://hiddengalleries.eu/ did some remarkable things with Soviet-era secret police records on underground religious minorities in various countries. Again about as trustworthy as their counterparts elsewhere – e.g. elaborate diagrams developed by managers to show the Foreign Funding networks (and hence boost funding for their own repression – of course some such networks did exist), staged photos of rituals which of course were taken after everyone involved had been arrested, etc.

Victor Serge’s “What every radical should know about state repression” was published after he got access to the Tsarist secret police files post-1917. Wonder what sort of an upheaval it would take to get access to the Branch files here…

Liked by 2 people

banjoagbeanjoe - May 9, 2022

“The NLI has a ‘Hard Times’ from the 90s attributed to Donycarney Unemployment Action Group – I wonder if there’s any connection?”

From memory, there were lots of Unemployed Action Groups or similar in various parts of Dublin and probably other major towns in the eighties. I remember the leading head in the WP in Kilbarrack was involved in one. My understanding is that they were a mish mash. The one that the WP head in Kilbarrack was involved in also had Trots and others on the steering committee. And then weren’t some of these groups under the auspices or maybe co-opted or taken over by the trade union movement and ended up with offices in various areas, staffed by full-timers or people on the equivalent of community employment schemes at the time.

Like

2. Aengus Millen - May 9, 2022

I wrote my senior history thesis on republican left radicalism from the 30s through the IRA split. One of the protagonists in the thesis was Dominic Behan brother of the more famous playwright. I have a memory (I will go and try to dig out what details I can) of Dominic Behan having been at least involved with but possibly having even created an organization by this name I want to say in the late 50s.

Liked by 1 person

Aengus Millen - May 9, 2022

Yep the information I have is that an organization calling itself the `Dublin Unemployed Association` was founded likely sometime in 1953 and that by 1954 Dominic Behan was calling himself the Secretary of said organization in a letter he wrote for the Evening Herald Newspaper in which he argued against some sort of energy tax.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2022

And there was a TD associated with that activism no less.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/23200099

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2022

Actually it’s a real insight into the mindset of the political class at that time and later.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Murphy_(Irish_politician)

Like

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2022

BTW Aengus, is any of your research there published? Sounds really interesting.

Like

Aengus Millen - May 9, 2022

It’s not published but I’m always happy to share the draft I have access to.

Liked by 1 person

EWI - May 10, 2022

It’s not published but I’m always happy to share the draft I have access to.

Same here – too much of that Twenties-Thirties period is now forgotten or brushed under the carpet (among them, a senior FF/IRA figure going to the USSR for arms).

Like

banjoagbeanjoe - May 9, 2022

My late uncle was an engineer in Dublin Corporation in the fifties. He told me that the cops would go to him and tell him to offer work to named individuals (including Dominic Behan iirc) at certain times. If they were offered jobs by the Corpo they had to take them or they’d lose their dole. So this was the cops way of breaking up the Unemployed Action Group by getting employment for its leading members.

Liked by 3 people

lcox - May 9, 2022

Definitely Gestetnered – the black spots in the middle of o’s and 0’s give it away

Liked by 1 person

lcox - May 9, 2022

Damn, that was meant for Tomboktu below, sorry.

Liked by 1 person

3. Tomboktu - May 9, 2022

I wonder how it was copied. At that time, my scout unit used a Gestetner to make copies of leaflets, letters to parents, etc., and the photograph above looks like the kind of quality we got. I didn’t work in an office then, so I don’t know how widely photocopiers were available, so it’s possible that they also have that kind of quality.

Liked by 1 person

4. irishelectionliterature - May 9, 2022

Tony Kearney was the Chairman of the group, Damien Cussen was The Secretary.Dan O’Rourke is another name involved with them. They would have campaign against Social Welfare Cuts, lack of job creation and so. They had a weekly meeting in the Amalgamated Hall on Marlborough St on Thursday afternoons between 2.30 and 4. The Atrix, Some Kind of Wonderful and Resistance were other bands that played benefit gigs for them.
They organised protests and marches. They were described by one WP figure as … “These groups are made up of highly politically motivated people of ultra left winged tendencies, Trotskyites who are cashing in on the unemployment situation”
They were on the go from 1981 to at least 1985

Liked by 3 people

Aonrud ⚘ - May 9, 2022

That’s great to get some detail on them, IEL. Only one man would be able to include the precise time and location of their weekly meetings 😉

Liked by 3 people

WorldbyStorm - May 9, 2022

That’s a podcast in the making IEL! As Aonrud say, great to get this information about them.

Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: