James Connolly


The Slackers I


Workers’ Republic, 5 February 1916.
Transcription & HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Ireland is in the throes of a new invasion. But whereas all other invasions have been invasions of fighting men, this last invasion is an invasion of men who have declined to fight.

Since the passing of the military service law and its coming into force in England this country has been flooded daily with fresh hordes of English and Scotch, who have run away from military service in their own country and settled down like a swarm of locusts upon Ireland.

Here in Ireland we have another kind of dilution of labour. Everywhere since the conscription act was first mooted there has been a rush of Englishmen and Scotsmen to Ireland to escape the military net. These Englishmen and Scotsmen – let us call them Brit-Huns for short – are appearing as if by magic in every sort of job hitherto held by Irishmen. There is not a week and scarcely a day, that goes by without some unfortunate Irishmen being told by his employer that the firm is going to reduce its staff, and that his services are therefore no longer required. He goes, and in a day or two a Brit-Hun appears in his place ... all up and down the city the loyal capitalists are weeding out Irishmen and slyly substituting English and Scots – Brit-Huns – in their places. The Irish are wanted to fight the battles of the tottering British Empire – to set the ‘glorious example’ of dying for the Empire that denies their country the merest shadow of national freedom – and as the Irish will not go willingly they must be starved into going ... It is a new plantation, this time with the blessing and connivance of the Parliamentary leaders of the Irish race at home and abroad. And as the Brit-Huns come in the Irish boys march out in khaki, puzzled, misled, betrayed, the wonder of the world for stupidity, and the despair of their country ... It is the product of crime and folly – of British crime and Irish folly.


Last updated on 15.8.2003