In the 'Demanding a Voice' gallery there is a small statue. It captures labour leader James Larkin in the full power of his oratory. His story is one of committed, incorruptible self-sacrifice to the labour movement.
Statue of James Larkin by Oisin Kelly
James was born in Liverpool in 1876, the son of a fitter in a local engineering firm. He was taken on as an apprentice at the firm when he was 11 years old. The pay was poor and he left to earn more money. He worked as a butcher's assistant, paperhanger, French polisher and at the docks. The 1890s was a period of high unemployment and finding work was becoming more difficult. James decided to stow away on a ship. He jumped ship at St Lucia and travelled around South America for a year.
When he returned unemployment was still a problem. James joined in the many public protest meetings. He was a member of the Independent Labour Party and helped form a branch in Toxteth, south Liverpool. At the age of 27 he became a foreman dock-porter for T & J Harrison Ltd. He joined the National Union of Dock Labourers in 1901 and was a prominent voice in the 1905 strike. He became a union organizer and worked to support the Parliamentary Labour candidate for Toxteth. Later he was elected as General Organizer of the National Union of Dock Labourers and set to work reorganizing the Scottish ports.
In 1907 he united and led Catholic and Protestant dock workers in Belfast against Unionist bosses. Six years later he led 20,000 workers in the great Dublin lockout. He achieved international fame as a revolutionary trade unionist. He left Ireland in 1914 for America where he became a founder member of the American Communist Party. In 1919 he was arrested, charged with criminal anarchy and sentenced to five to ten years in the notorious Sing Sing prison. His supporters successfully campaigned for his release and he returned to Ireland in 1923. He continued to play a prominent role in Irish politics, fighting against the right wing bureaucracy of the labour movement. He died in 1947.
Leading Liverpool Socialists at a meeting in Sun Hall,
Liverpool, 1913. James Larkin is second from left.
"While the accursed wage system lasts, let us see to it that we shall get the highest wages we can force from the employers; let us see to it that we can compel them to recognise the best possible conditions; let us forget that we are sectionalised; let us forget our craft lines of demarcation; let us also forget the sex distinction in the workshop, and live according to the truest spirit within us." - James Larkin
Further reading: 'James Larkin, Irish Labour Leader 1876-1947' by Emmet Larkin.
Source: Museum of Liverpool
Last edited by FKoE; 08-19-2006 at 11:50 AM.
Another Liverpudlian making his mark upon the World,that statue takes pride of place outside the post office in oconnell street in Dublin scene of the 1916 uprising,he was a great man.
Oct 7 2008
by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
THE 11th annual James Larkin march and rally in memory of the Liverpool-born Irish Socialist and trade union leader will take place in Liverpool this Saturday.
Previous marches have attracted flute bands from Ireland, Scotland and England and hundreds of supporters who oppose racism and right wing extremism.
The march will assemble at noon in Mount Pleasant and proceed to an open air rally in the city, including a speech by Sean Murray, a senior member of the Sinn Fein political party.
James Larkin is credited with organising the Irish labour movement between 1907-1914 after moving there with his Irish parents. He died in 1947.
Source: Liverpool Echo
Four held as loyalists jeer marchers
Oct 13 2008
by Marc Waddington, Liverpool Echo
FOUR people were arrested during a march through Liverpool by supporters of the Irish trade unionist James Larkin.
About 500 took part in the event which annually celebrates the life of Liverpool-born Larkin.
Organisers said around 40 or 50 people gathered along the route wearing Loyalist t-shirts and shouting abuse.
A police spokesman said: ?We had four arrests in total, including three for public order and one for breach of the peace.?
Loyalist supporters who believe in retaining Northern Ireland for Great Britain are at odds with Larkin?s support for a united Ireland.
A spokesman for the Larkin Society said it would not be deterred from staging the march next year.
The spokesman said: ?The James Larkin Society would like to thank all of those who participated in the march.
?There was no retaliatory behaviour, despite the racist and sectarian nature of the abuse.?
Source: Liverpool Echo