Thousands of people gathered in Dublin’s O’Connell Street yesterday (Saturday 31st August) to commemorate the 1913 Lockout in which an estimated 20,000 workers had been involved. President Higgins laid a wreath at the Jim Larkin statue after a salute by the Army No 1 band. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore attended along with Ministers Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbite, Jimmy Deenihan and Minister of State Joe Costello. Trade unionists were led by ICTU General Secretary David Begg and included SIPTU President Jack O’Connor (the successor of the ITGWU, founded by Larkin).
In traditional costumes and dress people recreated scenes from the 100-year old events, chanting “Down with Murphy, up with Larkin” while DMP police stood by. Readings from the novel Strumpet City were performed by by Bryan Murray and Angela Harding and an excerpt from the play “Lockout 1913”, set on top of a tram placed in front of the GPO.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn welcomed everyone to the event saying it was about paying tribute to “thousand of working men and women who took part in this campaign to achieve decent treatment and fairness of work”. Hundreds of people dressed in period costumes as dockers, some as Jacobs workers and others as the poor of Dublin. This part of the event was organised by the North Inner City Heritage Group with Dublin Council of Trade Unions. The President remained as a spectator for a dramatisation of Larkin’s famous speech from a hotel window off O’Connell Street, his subsequent arrest and the riot that led to a police baton charge resulting in more than 300 injuries.