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Ulster Unionist Labour Association

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Ulster Unionist Labour Association

The Ulster Unionist Labour Association was an association of trade unionists founded by Edward Carson in June 1918, aligned with the Ulster Unionists in Northern Ireland. Members were known as Labour Unionists. 1918 and 1919 were the years of intense class conflict throughout Britain. This period also saw a large increase in trade union membership and a series of strikes. These union activities raised fears in a section of the Ulster Unionist leadership, principally Edward Carson and R. Dawson Bates. Carson at this time was president of the British Empire Union, and had been predisposed to amplify the danger of a Bolshevik outbreak in Britain.[1]

Contents

  • Founding 1
  • 1918 General Election 2
  • Workers Strike 3
  • Sectarianism 4
  • B Specials established 5
  • Other activities 6
  • Decline 7
  • References 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • Additional reading 10

Founding

The Ulster Unionist Labour Association was made up of trade unionists and Ulster Unionists and was founded by Carson along with John Miller Andrews[2][3] as a means of instigating a purge from the local trade union movement of 'Bolsheviks' and republicans. Both Carson and Bates feared this class conflict and the development of a militant Sinn Féin would threaten the class alliance with dissolution which had been embodied in the old Ulster Volunteer Force. By sounding the counter-revolutionary alarm, it would be a call to 'loyal workers' against the twin threats of socialism and republicanism.[4]

The grouping adopted as formal policy an opposition to socialism, but was seen by many as an attempt to show that the Unionist Party had the interests of the working class at heart.[5] Members included Tommy Henderson, later an independent Unionist MP.

1918 General Election

During the

  • , Routledge (London 1991), ISBN 0-415-05335-8.Ireland’s Histories: Aspects of State, Society and IdeologySean Hutton and Paul Stewart,

Additional reading

  • Peter Barberis, John McHugh and Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations
  • Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9
  • , Stuttgart : F. Steiner, 1994. in Geschichte, ISBN 3-515-06102-9, ISBN 978-3-515-06102-5.Northern Ireland, past and presentJurgen Elvert,
  • Graham S Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party : Protest, pragmatism and pessimism, Manchester University Press (2004), ISBN 978-0-7190-6109-7
  • Brian Lalor, The Encyclopaedia of Ireland, Gill & Macmillan (Ireland 2003), ISBN 0-7171-3000-2

Bibliography

  1. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.16–17
  2. ^ John Miller Andrews chaired UULA meetings later becoming a Minister of Labour from 1921 to 1937. He was Minister of Finance from 1937 to 1940, when on the death of Lord Craigavon, he became the second Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
  3. ^ Brian Lalor, The Encyclopaedia of Ireland, Gill & Macmillan (Ireland 2003), ISBN 0-7171-3000-2, pg. 23–24
  4. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.16–17
  5. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, p.67
  6. ^ Jurgen Elvert, Northern Ireland, past and present, Stuttgart : F. Steiner, 1994. in Geschichte, ISBN 3-515-06102-9 pg.93
  7. ^ Jurgen Elvert, Northern Ireland, past and present, Stuttgart : F. Steiner, 1994. in Geschichte, ISBN 3-515-06102-9 pg.93
  8. ^ Graham S Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party : Protest, pragmatism and pessimism, Manchester University Press (2004), ISBN 978-0-7190-6109-7, pg 57.
  9. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.16–17
  10. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.16–17
  11. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.18–19
  12. ^ Jurgen Elvert, Northern Ireland, past and present, Stuttgart : F. Steiner, 1994. in Geschichte, ISBN 3-515-06102-9 pg.94
  13. ^ Jurgen Elvert, Northern Ireland, past and present, Stuttgart : F. Steiner, 1994. in Geschichte, ISBN 3-515-06102-9 pg.94
  14. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.18–19
  15. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.18–19
  16. ^ Paul Bew, Peter Gibbon and Henry Patterson, Northern Ireland: 1921 / 2001 Political Forces and Social Classes, Serif (London 2002), ISBN 1-897959-38-9, pg.18–19
  17. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, p.185
  18. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, p.68
  19. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, p.68
  20. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882–1973, p.68
  21. ^ Peter Barberis et al., Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, p.255

References

Already by the early 1970s, the Association's primary role was organising the wreath laying at the annual memorial service for Carson, and today it exists solely to perform this ceremonial role.[20][21]

In the 1970s, its role as a movement for the mobilisation of the loyalist working classes was taken over by more militant groups such as the Loyalist Association of Workers and the Ulster Workers Council.

The Great Depression saw many workers look instead to the official trade union movement and the Northern Ireland Labour Party, and many branches of the UULA became moribund. A drive to reinvigorate the UULA was launched in the 1950s, although only one new branch was formed, in Londonderry.[19]

The organisation was never able to attract leading trade unionists, and soon declined in importance. While Andrews and William Grant were initially able to speak on its behalf in the Parliament of Northern Ireland, in later years only the less prominent William Kennedy and occasional Senators sat in the Stormont Parliament.[18]

Decline

Besides its opposition to a united Ireland and to socialism, the Association did not make serious attempts to speak on behalf of loyalist workers. However, it did organise some limited adult education in its early days, and opened two working men's clubs in East and North Belfast. The Association was also able to appoint twenty delegates to the Ulster Unionist Council as late as the early 1970s.[17]

Other activities

While B Specials in November 1920. This official endorsement would shape both the formation of the state of Northern Ireland and Catholic feelings to it.[16]

Catholic retaliation and reprisals were inevitable with gun and bomb attacks on trains carrying shipyard workers. This resulted in yet more reprisals with widespread looting and burning of Catholic owned businesses. The British army while guarding Catholic properties clashed with Protestant crowds with fatal consequences. This resulted in UULA creating an “unofficial special constabulary,” with members drawn chiefly from the shipyards, tasked with ‘policing’ Protestant areas. Carson and Craig need to establish a militant basis for resistance to republicanism wished to reconstitute the UVF’ which could operate independently of the British. They then set about securing British government approval and funds for the UULA constabularies in Belfast along with the UVF.[15]

B Specials established

Most Protestant employers looked on with tacit approval as "Vigilance Committees" were established to prevent 'disloyalist' workers from being re-employed. Protestant domination of the Belfast industries was celebrated with Union Jack unfurlings and addressed by members of the UULA.[14]

Collins however suggests that the direct cause of the expulsions was the killing of Banbridge RIC man Colonel Smyth on 7 July in Cork. Rail Union members in the south of Ireland refused to allow his body travel home by train, leading many Loyalists to then identify the Labour movement with his assassins. It was on the day of his funeral Collins says that the expulsions began resulting in ten thousand Catholics and so called "Rotten Prods" with connections to Labour.[13]

Paul Collins suggests that the expulsions were partly the result of a speech made by Carson on 12 July Orange Order celebrations linking Labour with Sinn Féin: “…These men who come forward as the friends of Labour care no more about Labour than does the man in the moon. Their real object, and the real insidious nature of their propaganda is that they mislead and bring about disunity amongst our own people and in the end before we know where we are, we may find ourselves in the same bondage and slavery as is the rest of Ireland in the South and West.” [12]

In the spring and summer of 1920 ‘indignation’ meetings were held in Belfast by working-class members of Carson’s “Old Town Hall circle” to attack the British unions for their 'Bolshevism' and 'pro-republicanism'. Leading Unionists and employers went along in these events and even justified them, as they perceiving themselves to be vulnerable. After one meeting held in the shipyards in July, attacks began on workers identified as Belfast Labour members, socialists and Catholics. This then spread to some sections of the linen industry and the engineering industry resulting in over "8,000 expulsions within a week."[11]

By 1920 growing unemployment in the linen industries and engineering sector were creating tension within the “Protestant bloc.” Large numbers of well organised ex-servicemen were still out of work and a cause of concern to the local middle class. It was the local middle class who alleged that ‘peaceful penetration’ of Belfast industry during the war by thousands of Catholics created the unemployment problem, especially that of the ex-servicemen. It would be the local middle class who succeeded in giving the conflict its sectarian twist. [10]

Sectarianism

Predominantly Protestant, Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. The strike was extended to include electricity and municipal gas workers causing large sections of industry and commerce to close down. They began to publish a daily newspaper and a General Strike Committee was formed and began to issue permits allowing only 'necessary' production.[9]

Workers Strike

The UULA had five members returned altogether, including John M. Andrews. The Orange Order in the selection of Unionist Party candidates and election work had be written into the Associations set of rules prior to the election.[8]

The Belfast Labour Party put four candidates forward but the results were disappointing. They lost out to two UULA and two Unionist candidates.[7]

[6]

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