A scrapping of every principle of individual liberty?

Published in Issue 1 (Spring 2001), Letters, Letters, Volume 9

Sir,—In ‘The Postal Strike of 1922’ (HI Winter 2000) Alexis Guilbrideregrets that this event ‘has virtually gone unrecorded in the historybooks.
Of all the governments we have had since independence, few woulddispute that the first Provisional Government of Saorstat Éireann hadthe most difficult task of all, establishing a staple environment fromthe ruins of the Civil War, and the preceding War of Independence, andWorld War upheavals. Its members lived from day to day in fear ofassassination by ‘Irregulars’ trying to destabilise it by cuttingcommunications and destroying railways, bridges and buildings. It wasat this time of national emergency that postal workers who, judging bythe photos accompanying the article, (and bearing in mind thedestitution prevailing at the time) were healthy, well fed, and notjust well dressed but over dressed, struck. They belonged to the moreprivileged members of the community with secure public service jobs andthe suggestion that they were on near starvation wages is no more thana big propaganda lie. I do not doubt that the Postmaster General, J. J.Walsh, issued knuckle-dusters to his supporters to use against hisenemies in those violent days, but to suggest they were issued to dealwith strikers is hardly creditable, and no evidence is supplied byGuilbride to prove what she implies. It is preposterous to suggest thatthe action of the minister and his cabinet under the circumstancesprevailing was ‘a scrapping of every principle of individual liberty’.If trade unionists felt then, or still feel, that the establishment ofa native government was simply replacing one set of bourgeoiscapitalists by another, then, they, and their leaders, including Larkinand Connolly, created this situation as much as anyone else, by theirstupidity and poor political judgements. It is for this reason that theIrish electorate has rejected socialism in the past, and for much thesame reasons, continues to reject it.
Some thought should be given by your contributor to this fact,rather than indulging in partisan propaganda and worn out slogans aboutthe emancipation of the proletariat. If the postal strike of 1922 hasbeen written out of history, perhaps it is as well, since it bestows nocredit on the trade union movement.
ART Ó LAOGHAIRE
Clontarf
Dublin

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