Politics and the Irish Working Class, 1830-1945 by Fintan Lane, Donal O. Drisceoil

By Fintan Lane, Donal O. Drisceoil

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Northern Whig, 13 December 1830. , 3 October 1831; Belfast Newsletter, 25 February 1831. Podmore, Robert Owen, Vol. II, p. 399. Belfast Newsletter, 27 August 1830. , 25 February 1831. , 3 June 1831, 14 October 1831. Holyoake, The History of Co-operation in England, Vol. 1, p. 191. It is not known if Belfast ever got its council and secretary. Belfast Newsletter, 11 March 1831. Northern Whig, 5 April 1832. Ibid. 26 Robert Owen, Co-operation and Ulster in the 1830s 55. Belfast Newsletter, 11 March 1831.

Certainly, 1834 was a calamitous year for the co-operative society phase of the Owenite movement, culminating in the failure to establish national structures in the Labour Exchange scheme. ’70 It is therefore not particularly surprising that the Ulster co-operatives cease to generate news, but the precise nature of their existence, or non-existence, is not known. Conclusion By 1834, the Belfast Newsletter was deeply concerned with trade unionism in Ulster. 71 The newspaper, which had long fulminated against ‘combinations’, excoriated the unions with the greatest of vehemence.

The incongruity was evident in the 1860s, when workers were heavily involved with Fenianism, but trade unions officially kept their distance until the post-1867 amnesty campaign allowed them to express Fenian sympathies without preaching sedition. Engagement with nationalism served too as a means of consolidating public acceptance of trade unions and raising other grievances. The National Trades Political Union, founded originally by Dublin artisans in 1831 to demand repeal, also agitated against tithes, petitioned for triennial parliaments and the secret ballot, and prepared reports on the decline of trade since 1800.

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