The Relevance of Tadhg Barry’s Politics today.

Tadhg Barry, Republican socialist.

TadghBarryTadhg Barry (1880-1921) the Cork Republican Socialist has been a largely forgotten figure  of Irish History, up until very recently. Tadhg Barry was a Trade unionist, ( a full time organiser for the ITGWU) IRA volunteer, IRB man, member of the GAA(Writer of Hurling and how to play it) Gaelic League, AOH(American alliance) and the Cork Volunteer Pipe Band. He was a man of many talents, an exemplary Revolutionary. Barry shared the politics of James Connolly, the politics of workers struggle and the fight against Capitalism and Imperialism.

With a planned plaque for the Northside where Barry was from (Blarney st) and the publication of Donal Ó Drisceoil’s Booklet  Tadhg Barry The story of an Irish Revolutionary, there is a growing interest in the man and his politics.

Tadhg barry booklet“Tadhg Barry was the last high profile victim of  British forces in Ireland during the War of Independence. A veteran Republican activist he was a full time activist for the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and an alderman on the Cork City Corporation at the time of his arrest and imprisonment without charge or trial in Jnauary 1921. He was shot through the heart by a sentry in Ballykinlar internment camp in county Down on 15 November 1921 while waving goodbye to comrades leaving on parole. The sense of sorrow and anger at the cruel death of a widely -loved, charismatic character was exacerbated by the timing: weeks later he would have been released along with all his fellow internees as part of treaty settlement. Barry’s murder was a huge but now largely, fogotten event in Ireland. The funeral dwarfed even those of Barry’s comrades, the martyred Lord mayors Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney. Irish newspapers were filled with reports of his death, Funeral and overall national reaction.

It seemed as if Tadhg Barry would join the pantheon of Republican Martyrs. Instead his name is now little  known. The anglo Irish Treaty was signed three weeks to the day after Barry’s death and monopolised attention; the united movement that elevated Barry to hero/martyr status was ripped asunder in the ensuing civil war and the name of Tadhg Barry became lost in the smoke.” *

tadhg-barry-mugshotThe Ireland of today has changed an awful lot since Barry’s time but  much of what he fought to rid Ireland of is still firmly entrenched. The gap between rich and poor grows by the day, Bankers mock us and rob us blind, Emigration has robbed Ireland of a large section of her youth, the country is still in the hands of the Gombeen classes, and although Republicanism is seeing a period of re-organisation after a bleak period of schism, factionalism and directionless militarism, unfortunelty Socialism seems set to take a back seat, again. If the socialism of Tadhg Barry i.e. Trade Unionism, was pursued by the various republican ‘movements’ and seen as a pillar of the Irish Republican ideology and not made to ‘wait’ as in the past, we could build a strong and confident revolutionary movement.

The politcs of Barry and Connolly have never been more relevant. Talk of ‘the economy’ and ‘the recession’ is on everyone’s lips. We’re constantly being told we need to ‘tighten our belts’ by people who ran the economy into the ground in the first place,  the mainstream trade union movement and the ‘labour’ party is in bed with the bosses and has long since sold out the aspirations  of men like Tadhg Barry and James Connolly. Ireland needs a new broad movement with Militant Trade Unionism, Internationalism, An Teanga Gaeilge, and National Liberation Struggle as its foundations,  any discussion on the way forward for a Revolutionary Ireland cannot ignore any one of these essentials.

Only then can we follow in the footsteps of Tadhg Barry.

An Lámh Dubh.

*Taken with kind permission from Donal Ó Drisceoil booklet.

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