Marx-Engels Correspondence 1891

Engels To Friedrich Adolph Sorge


Source: Marx & Engels on the Irish Question, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971, p. 353;
Transcribed: by Einde O'Callaghan.

February 11, 1891

The gasworkers now have the most powerful organisation in Ireland [359] and will put up their own candidates in the next election, unconcerned over either Parnell or MacCarthy. That Parnell is now so friendly with the workers, he owes to encounters with these same gasworkers, who had no compunctions about telling him the truth. Michael Davitt, too, who had at first wanted independent Irish Trades Unions, has learned from them: their constitution secures them perfectly free home rule. To them the credit for giving impetus to the labour movement in Ireland. Many of their branches consist of agricultural labourers.


359. The National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers of Great Britain and Ireland, founded in April 1889, had over 100,000 members. It was the first trade union in the English and Irish labour movements to organise unskilled workers. Its chief demand was the introduction of an eight-hour working day. Eleanor Marx-Aveling played a major role in its organisation and leadership.

The active dissemination of socialist ideas among the trade union members by Eleanor Marx and her comrades helped the Union exert a major influence on Ireland’s working-class movement. Its example promoted the formation of the dockers’, agricultural workers’ and other trade unions.