Formation of Irish Citizen Army 1913

On the 19 November, 1913 the Irish Citizen Army was formed by a small group of trade union volunteers, led by Jim Larkin and Jack White, to protect the workers from police brutality and as a direct result of the lockout. Other prominent members included James Connolly, Seán O’Casey and Constance Markievicz.

Frank Robbins, a member of the Irish Citizen Army and author of the book 'Under the Starry Plough: Recollections of the Irish Citizen Army' spoke to Rodney Rice on the programme 'Here and Now', about his experience as a member of the Irish Citizen Army.

Frank Robbins began his working life at the age of thirteen and soon experienced the harsh working conditions that so many Irish workers faced each day. Facing a future of long hours and poor pay, at the age of 15 he joined the ITGWU (Irish Transport and General Workers' Union) which had the objective of protecting workers from exploitation and ensuring decent working conditions and pay. While the ITGWU did not necessarily achieve its objectives, Robbins remained a member throughout his life as he agreed in their principles.

Robbins describes how he became involved in the Irish Citizen Army after witnessing much brutality, where workers were badly treated by the police.He recalls James Connolly saying "We are going to have a worker's army. We are not going to allow our members and our workers to be battened down by the armed and disciplined force". This is the essence of the Irish Citizen Army.

This episode of 'Here and Now' was broadcast on 16 December, 1977.

The accompanying photograph taken from the Cashman Collection shows James Connolly, a prominent member of the Irish Citizen Army.

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