James Connolly


Belfast Municipal Elections
January 1913

Dock Ward: Election of a Councillor


Transcribed by The James Connolly Society in 1997.
Proofread by Chris Clayton, July 2007.

January 1913

To the Electors:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In view of the fact that the National Health Insurance Act comes into working operation on January 13, and that one of the governing bodies to administer that Act will be an Insurance Commission partly elected by the City Council, it is felt, because of the well-known hostility to labour of our present representatives, that some steps should be taken to have a labour representative on the Council in order to try and prevent enemies of the working class being sent from that Council to the Insurance Commission. For this reason a General Meeting of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, very largely composed of residents in this Ward, unanimously decided to ask me to contest Dock Ward in the labour interest. The Belfast Trades and Labour Council also unanimously passed a resolution approving of this contest and recommending the labour candidate to the electors. As the Irish Trades Congress at its recent meeting in Clonmel also declared in favour of organised labour in Ireland taking steps to secure independent labour representation, I feel compelled to accept this duty, and therefore I ask your hearty support in our resolve to capture this seat, and thus let the voice of labour be heard in the City Council, in spite of the stupid, intolerant, and labour-hating gang who rule there.

I desire to be returned in order to advocate, among other things, that the Act for the feeding of children at school at present in force in Great Britain, be applied to Ireland. We have a right to demand equal treatment for Irish and British workers, and as the British workers have secured that their children must be fed before being educated (because it is impossible to educate hungry children), we also claim that when the poverty, or neglect, of the parents is such that the children are suffering, that the Local Authorities should be empowered to make provision for the supply of at least one good meal per day to each child. To those who object that this would ‘pauperise’ the children, I answer that the children of the working class have as much right to be maintained thus as have the children of royalty. If it does not pauperise the one it cannot pauperise the other.

The Corporation of Dublin and many other Public Boards in Ireland have declared for this measure; it is time Belfast City Council was interesting itself more about such matters and less about the perpetuation of the religious discords that make Belfast a byword among civilised nations.

My general attitude, if elected, will be to insist upon the importance of the interests of labour being studied; that wherever possible all Corporation work be done by direct employment of labour; that the trade union clause be enforced in all Corporation contracts; that a minimum wage of at least 6d. per hour be established for all Corporation employees; that membership in a trade union be made compulsory for all wage-earners in Corporation employment; and that the Tramways Committee and its manager be compelled to supply covered cars for workers, morning and evening.

As every citizen in Belfast is interested in the proper administration of the Harbour, I favour the abolition of the present undemocratic and unrepresentative Board and the establishment in its place of a Harbour Board elected on the same franchise and at the same time as the Aldermen of the city. If elected, I will move that the City Council promote a bill on these lines.

I stand as a labour candidate, totally independent of any political party. But as the personal views of a candidate cannot be ignored – and as mine are likely to be misrepresented – I judge it well to state mine here that I may at least be heard in my own defence.

Believing that the present system of society is based upon the robbery of the working class, and that capitalist property cannot exist without the plundering of labour, I desire to see capitalism abolished, and a democratic system of common or public ownership erected in its stead. This democratic system, which is called socialism, will, I believe, come as a result of the continuous increase of power of the working class. Only by this means can we secure the abolition of destitution, and all the misery, crime, and immorality which flow from that unnecessary evil. All the reform legislation of the present day is moving in that direction even now, but working class action on above lines will secure that direct, voluntary, conscious, and orderly cooperation by all for the good of all, will more quickly replace the blundering and often reluctant legislation of capitalist governments.

As a lifelong advocate of national independence for Ireland, I am in favour of Home Rule, and believe that Ireland should be ruled, governed, and owned by the people of Ireland.

I believe that men and women having to face the battle of life together, could face it better were all enjoying the same political rights.

Fellow workers: I leave my case in your hands. As a trade union official, I stand for the class to which I belong. If you are content to be represented by men belonging to some section of the master class, then do not vote for me, but if you want your cause represented from Dock Ward by one of your own class, who will battle for your rights, who is the determined enemy of the domination of class over class, of nation over nation, of sex over sex, who will at all times stand for the cause of the lowly-paid and oppressed, then vote for


Yours fraternally,


Last updated on 19.8.2007