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Larkinites defeated in Municipal Elections
Ernest Kavanagh cartoon, published in The Irish Worker, accusing the opponents of Labour in the city of creating bogus voters in order to ensure victory in the local elections. Photo: National Library of Ireland

Larkinites defeated in Municipal Elections

Trade unionists argue that a different electoral system would have produced a different result

Published: 15 January 1914

Despite the failure of leading trade unionists, Thomas McPartlin and P.T. Daly, to win seats in the Dublin Municipal Elections, the trade union movement has rejected claims that it had suffered serious losses.

A statement issued in The Irish Worker acknowledged that Labour ranks had been compelled to withdraw to its base and that it had been damaged by the events of the Lockout: ‘If the election had been fought in November last, instead of holding our own, losing one seat and gaining one, we would have had the satisfaction of chronicling not less than eight victories.’

Nonetheless, trade unionists pointed to strong showings all across the city, even though seats were not won: ‘Our opponents are loudly proclaiming the fact that Larkinism is routed. If that had been true, how is it that in every Ward we fought we have increased our vote by hundreds.’

The statement further pointed out that if the election had been held on the basis of proportional representation then six labour members would have been elected instead of two.

This is number 10 in a series of caricatures entitled 'In the Dublin Zoo', drawn by Frank Reynolds and published in 1913. It echoes the sentiment in a recent Irish Times editorial which implored the readers of that paper not to vote for candidates with an 'interest' in the slums. (Image: National Library of Ireland, PD 2159 TX (39) 2a)

The statement also bitterly condemned opponents of the trade union movement and their behaviour in the election: ‘You have to remember that we had massed against us every section of the employing class and every political party in the city. The press were united in this fight. The pulpits without an exception were used as a platform to denounce us. The police as usual acted like jackals. Every public official with a few brilliant exceptions were abusing their offices in acting in a prejudiced and partial manner on behalf of our enemies.’

‘What a fine thing it must be to vote against Labour! See the nice, clean ladies and gentlemen (outwardly, but foul within) who masquerade at Christmas, rubbing shoulders with and assisting the very vilest of the scum who pollute this city.’

‘What a shame on the Unionist, the Orangeman, the Hibernian, the independent gentleman, the shopkeeper, the slum-owner, the brothel-keeper, the white-slave trafficker, the slum publican and the parson. What a combination! And they won by votes, some of them bona fide, many of them bogus.’

Professor Diarmaid Ferriter discusses the system of local government in Ireland in the lead-up to the elections in January 1914.


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.