I welcome David Begg to the House, it is a pleasure to have the General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions here. It is important to mark the 1913 Lock-out centenary in this way and that we speak also about its relevance to modern Ireland. I had to propose to a previous meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges that Mr. Begg would address us, and it is great that he is here to do so. As the Leader has said, we have gone one better than the Lower House in our approach to marking the centenary.
I am personally delighted because I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Begg on the TASC democracy commission, which I view as a precursor to the constitutional convention in the sense that we looked at issues around participation in democracy and encouraging greater participation by young people in particular. We did important work on that issue. Mr. Begg has given a wonderful, clear and comprehensive overview of the complex history and the context of the Lock-out. There is no doubt it was a tragedy and a defeat. As Mr Begg mentioned, it was effectively an unconditional surrender and a betrayal of the working classes who had united in solidarity behind the charismatic and strongly revered Jim Larkin. Of course, he was equally loathed by those on the other side and, in many ways, he became a divisive figure. The Lock-out has achieved an iconic status and it was undoubtedly a pivotal moment in Irish history. One strand of historical work focuses on the personality of Larkin and the relationship he had with other leaders, such as Connolly and O'Brien. That highlights the splits and divide in the trade union movement which Mr. Begg described as a kind of civil war, which is one of enduring effects after 1913. That is only one interpretation of 1913 and it is often the interpretation of those who take an anti-trade union perspective. However, there is another important take on the Lock-out that has left a more lasting legacy to which Mr. Begg alluded. The widespread and common perception of 1913 is that it was a brutal put-down by a ruthless employer, William Martin Murphy, and his allies, of workers and their families who were living in appalling conditions and in starvation. Those conditions are so far removed, happily, from current circumstances that it is often hard to see the relevance. There is a renewed interest in the social context of the Lock-out. One only has to look at the revived interest in Strumpet City and recent cultural events, including the reopening of the house on Henrietta Street, the television programmes about tenement life and people's living conditions, and recent dramas in the fringe festival and in Dublin City Hall for culture night to see that.
All of these events have focused on people's living conditions at the time and the impact of the employers' tactics on women and children, in particular.
Speaking exclusively to the Irish Mirror, the barrister and Trinity law lecturer slammed the Government for wasting millions on a costly referendum when “substantial” reforms could have been made without it.
Putting her weight behind our Keep The Seanad campaign, Senator Bacik insisted: “I believe the Seanad is working and while I accept it could do better, our fundamental role is scrutiny and I think that’s what we do best.
In case you missed it, you can listen back to this radio programme, the final episode of a documentary series narrating the events that led to the landmark labour versus capital conflict in Dublin in 1913. I was delighted to participate as the 1913 Lockout is commemorated.
To read my response to Breda O'Brien, published in today's Irish Times, please click on this link or see below.
Sir, – I take serious exception to the comments made about me by Breda O’Brien (Opinion, July 27th). Yet again she has used her Saturday column to launch a tirade against any legalisation of abortion. Her constant crusade to portray all those who would like to see sensible reform of our highly restrictive abortion law as “militant pro-choicers” has become very tedious. But in this case it is important to set the record straight.
To read my article, as it appeared in the Irish Times, click here or read below.
Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is not a ‘slippery slope’ to abortion on demand
Over the last week, as the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill has been debated in the Seanad, we have been subjected to particularly graphic and insensitive descriptions of abortion procedures by some of those opposing the Bill. While the majority of contributors to the debate have been thoughtful and measured, it is unfortunate that a small number have resorted to these tactics.
I was pleased to be invited to speak as part of the series of lectures organised by The People's College, Dublin on Collective Bargaining. Here is a You Tube link as I spoke with students and guests on the right to collective bargaining and on the shape of pending Government legislation.
Employment Equality (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2013: Second Stage
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Senator Ivana Bacik: I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
It gives me great pleasure to introduce the Employment Equality (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2013. I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, and thank her for taking the Bill on behalf of the Government.