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Divide & Rule

Peter Hadden

Divide and Rule




1798 United Irishmen Rebellion led by Wolfe Tone.

1801 Act of Union – brings Ireland directly under the control of Westminster.

1846-7 The Great Starvation. Death and emigration reduced the population by one third within ten years.

1870s Land League agitation led by Michael Davitt.

1886 1st Home Rule Bill defeated in Parliament.

1893 2nd Home Rule Bill vetoed by House of Lords.

1894 Irish Trade Union Congress established.

1907 Belfast Dock Strike led by Larkin.

1912 Irish Labour Party established on the initiative of Connolly.

1913 Dublin employers lock out 25,000 workers. The struggle lasts from August until the following February, ending in stalemate. Irish Citizen Army formed to defend strikers from police attacks.

1914 Mutiny at Curragh army camp organized by Sir Edward Carson leads to Liberal government dropping the 3rd Home Rule Bill. Outbreak of World War.

1916 Easter Rising bloodily crushed by British army, followed by ninety executions, including Connolly.

1918 General Strike against moves to impose conscription. General Election. Under Sinn Fein influence Labour didn’t stand. Illegal Parliament established – the “First Dail”.

1919 Limerick Soviet set up. Belfast engineers strike involves over 40,000 workers. The trades council virtually takes over the running of the city. War of Independence begins.

1920 Government of Ireland Act proposed two separate parliaments, one in the North, one in the South.

1921 July 11: truce called in War of Independence. December 6: Treaty signed by De Valera accepting the creation of the border. Civil War breaks out as the majority of the IRA reject the Treaty.

1923 Civil war ends.


Wolfe Tone – Leader of the United Irishmen Rebellion of 1798.

Daniel O’Connell – Nationalist leader in the early 1900s. Frequently supported the ruling class on social issues.

Michael Davitt – Radical leader of the Land League struggle against evictions in the 1870s.

Charles Parnell – Parliamentary leader of Irish nationalism in the 1880s.

John Redmond – Nationalist leader in the early 1900s. Landlord.

Sir Edward Carson – Reactionary Dublin lawyer who organized the “Curragh Mutiny” in 1914, in opposition to Home Rule.

Arthur Griffith – Leader of Sinn Fein from its foundation. Favoured establishment of an Irish monarchy, supported employers in the 1913 Dublin lockout. Rose to prominence in the “War of Independence” struggle after 1918.

Eamon De Valera – Sinn Fein leader of the First (illegal) Dail (parliament) in 1919.

William Martin Murphy – Leader of Dublin Employers. Organized a lockout in 1913 in an attempt to break the ITGWU.

James Connolly – Born 1868 in Edinburgh, became involved in the Scottish Socialist Federation. In 1896 went to Ireland as an organizer for the Dublin Socialist Club, where he formed the Irish Socialist Republican Party. In 1903 Connolly went to the USA and became organizer and secretary of the Building and Constructional Workers. In 1907 he launched the Irish Socialist Federation amongst Irish American workers.

Connolly returned to Ireland in 1910 and immediately began a campaign to get with James Larkin, who was held on trumped up charges, out of prison. As a result Larkin was released within three months. In 1913 he unsuccessfully contested Dock Ward in Belfast supported by Belfast Trades Council. During the Dublin lockout he was arrested and only released after going on hunger strike. After Larkin’s departure to the USA in 1914, he became Acting General Secretary of the ITGWU and Commandant of the Citizen Army. Connolly opposed the imperialist war and helped to lead and plan the 1916 Easter Rising where he was wounded. He was subsequently executed by firing squad while strapped to a chair as he was unable to stand because of his wounds.

James Larkin – Organized the Belfast Dock strike of 1907, which resulted in the formation of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union in 1909. Imprisoned in 1910 on trumped up charges. Leader of the ITGWU in the Dublin lockout of 1913 during which he was imprisoned.

In October 1914 he left Ireland for the USA on a fundraising tour, but he stayed and played an active role in the American trade union and socialist movement opposing the imperialist war and joining the American Communist Labor Party in 1919. In 1920 he was sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of “criminal anarchy”. After a campaign and protests he was released in 1923 and returned to Ireland.

In 1937 he was elected to the Dail as an “Independent Labour” candidate. He died in 1947, aged 71.

Irish Citizen Army – Founded by Connolly in 1913 to defend striking workers from police attacks.

UVF – Ulster Volunteer Force. Unionist paramilitary organization. Set up in 1913 to fight Home Rule. Financed by sections of the ruling class in Britain.

IRB – Secret organization, representing the radical wing of the National (Irish) Volunteers. Many joined the Citizen Army.

Blueshirts – Fascists

Dail – Irish Parliament

Easter Rising – 1916. Led by Connolly and the Citizen Army, lasted a week. It was bloodily crushed by the British army. Over 1,300 were killed or wounded in the rising. Most of its leaders, including Connolly were executed afterwards.

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Last updated: 31.12.2010