Jim Larkin found guilty of seditious utterances
Attorney General sentences ‘wicked and dangerous criminal' to to seven months in jail
Jim Larkin, the trade union leader, was today found guilty of seditious utterances and sentenced to seven months imprisonment. Mr. Larkin was found not guilty of the additional charges of incitement to riot and incitement to loot.
The case was heard in Green Street Courthouse in Dublin and began shortly after 11am when the Attorney General, John Moriarty, set out the case for the prosecution. The Attorney General told the court that Mr. Larkin was not being prosecuted because he was a strike leader, but because he had broken the law.
He continued by saying that Mr. Larkin was indicted because, in this instance, he had behaved as a ‘wicked and dangerous criminal’ and that every fair-minded man would agree that it was ‘most lamentable as well as unfair when hundreds of men were at present in prison for committing crimes they were urged to commit by the language and example of Mr. Larkin, that Mr. Larkin should be at liberty and enjoying the blessings and comfort of liberty’.
The Attorney General noted the ‘state of riot and tumult’ in Dublin and the fierce battles that have been taking place between strikers and police. He claimed that Mr. Larkin’s words were central to the mayhem that gripped the city.
He recalled how, on 29th August, Mr. Larkin had spoken to a crowd of 8,000 people from the windows of Liberty Hall using a megaphone. In the course of his speech, claimed the Attorney General, Mr. Larkin had said: ‘People make kings and can unmake them. I never said ‘God Save the King’, but in derision. I say it now in derision.’
The Attorney General also recounted words that Mr. Larkin had spoken, supposedly as threats to Mr. William Martin Murphy and to strike-breakers. He concluded by alleging that Mr. Larkin recognised no law but his own.
Mr. Hanna – appearing in defence of Mr. Larkin – said that the prosecution’s attempt to link Mr. Larkin’s words to riot and affray across Dublin on the weekend in question had been futile. Mr. Hanna further said that the Crown had put on the jury those to whose interests Mr. Larkin was opposed, all in the hopes of getting Mr. Larkin out of the way so that the strikers could be dealt with.
Mr. Hanna further noted that not one shop in Dublin had been looted, nor one piece of coal stolen.
Mr. Justice Madden proceeded to charge the jury at 4.40pm. The jury retired for half an hour, before returning to deliver a guilty verdict on the charge of using seditious words, but not guilty to inciting to riot or inciting to steal.
In a speech to the court, Mr. Larkin condemned the verdict of the jury and said the charges against him were untrue because no man in his position would call on 8,000 people to face the police or the army, who were hired assassins. He regretted that he had not been tried by a jury of his peers, that is, by working men.
He was then stopped by Mr. Justice Madden, who handed down a sentence of seven months imprisonment without hard labour.