Sunday's Meeting in Beresford Place
A public meeting under the auspices of the Socialist Party of Ireland was held last Sunday at Beresford Place to congratulate Mr Walter Carpenter on his discharge from Mountjoy Prison, where he had been confined for a term on a charge of having used language alleged to be derogatory to King George of England. There was a considerable attendance, which included numbers of the National Boy Scouts in their uniform. Unlike previous meetings in Beresford Place, which were attended by a considerable force of the DMP, there was not a single Cossack at Sunday's gathering.
Mr James Connolly, Organiser Irish Transport Workers' Union, Belfast, presided. In the course of his address opening the proceedings Mr Connolly said he was glad to see such a large meeting despite the rain and other adverse circumstances. They had their comrade, Carpenter, again with them, and next to him, but perhaps higher in the degree of criminality, they had Miss Molony (applause). It is, continued Mr Connolly, perfectly shocking to hear you cheer such criminals. I take it that in expressing my own sentiments in this matter I am expressing the sentiments of every man around me - that is to say, that in welcoming Carpenter on his release from prison, we take that opportunity, not only of associating ourselves with him in the crime that he committed, but of declaring our fullest sympathy, and not only our fullest sympathy, but our completely unqualified endorsement of teh words for which he was sent to prison (cheers). We are to-day living in times of change - in times of what it is no exaggeration to describe as a revolution. On such an occasion it is but fitting that the party to which our friend Carpenter and Miss Molony belong - the Socialist Party of Ireland - should come forward and take their position with the people in the great crisis with which we have been face to face. It is a pleasure to me as one of the oldest pioneers of trades unionism in Dublin to say how glad I am to be able to call your attention to the fact that in the two great crises - the national crisis and the industrial crisis - in both of which the people of Dublin were met with all kinds of temptations and bribery and with all kinds of poison in order, if possible, to lead them astray and destroy their national spirit - in both these crises the Socialist Party of Ireland were ready with the people to recognise that the national cause and the industrial cause were at stake, and that their place was in the firing line in front of the people (cheers). I am glad to recognise that during these crises you and they acted up to the fullest sense of your responsibilities as men and women. In the first of these crises they had to encounter a perfect orgy of flunkeyism. According to the English newspapers Dublin was the most loyal place in all the dominions of the king of England, and the people were supposed to be like bellowing slaves going down on their knees and protesting their loyalty and selfless adulation and worship to a king who rules, we are told, according to the grace of God, but with forty thousand bayonets at the back of him (cheers and laughter). Despite all this attempt to represent Dublin as enthusiastically loyal about a month ago, no sooner had his Gracious(?) Majesty taken his departure from their shores than they saw Dublin a seething mass of discontent - seething with rebellion and ready to go to any extreme in the attempt to gain freedom. I cannot tell you how this old heart of mine rose with gladness when in the North I heard that the people of Dublin - the workers of Dublin - had taken the measure of their responsibilities and had unfurled the banner of freedom - of national and industrial freedom - not only for themselves, but for their struggling brothers across the water. Those men and women who were most enthusiastically national in the first of these crises were at the same time most enthusiastic in support of the industrial uprising during the last few days and weeks; and whether in the workshop or outside it were amongst the first to support their brothers who took active steps to uphold the dignity and the rights of the working classes (cheers). Let us draw the lesson of this great struggle of the last few days and weeks. The newspapers told them that England was one mass of rebellion. Fifty thousand troops were concentrated in London, four warships were in the Mersey, and the guns of these warships and the bayonets of the soldiers were pointed, not against Germany, not against Russia, but against the working classes in the cities of England, just as they were presented against the working classes here in Dublin. All the newspapers had been full of this great upheaval in England, in Dublin, and in Belfast and elsewhere. They had been telling you in great headlines of the terrible news of the great strike in England, Ireland, and Scotland - everything was powerless, works had been suspended and railway communication cut off, and the nation had been threatened with bankruptcy. AS MR MAHONY DECLARED in the Dublin Police Court, if this went on society would be dissolved. Why? Because the workers had stopped work - the poor ill-considered, badly-paid, ill-requited, slave-driven and degraded workers had stopped working; and mark you, my friends, the moment you stopped working society went to chaos, to everlasting smash. Does not that teach you a great lesson - the power of the people; the power of the working classes? We are living in a new age - the age of solidarity of labour. You must recognise that you are living not only in an age of progress, but in an age of revolution. We in Ireland did our part in that struggle, and we have shown that we are determined to win for the workers complete industrial freedom, and the right to live in the country in which they were born. They had but one thing to serve in this struggle, and that was to maintain and uphold the dignity of labour, and they would do that by acting their part as men and as women. In conclusion Mr Connolly read for the meeting the following resolution, which would be proposed for adoption:- "That this meeting of Dublin workers tenders a cordial welcome to Mr Walter Carpenter on his release from prison, and heartily congratulates him on his timely and effective protest against the recent outburst of flunkeyism in the city" (cheers). [...]
Republished in James Connolly: Lost Writings, (ed. Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh), Pluto Press 1997.