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Lockout brings Dublin city centre to standstill
Crowds gather outside Liberty Hall, headquarters of the ITGWU Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England], 6 September 1913

Lockout brings Dublin city centre to standstill

Price of food soars in Dublin as Sinn Féin opposes Lockout

Published: 20 September 1913

Businesses in Dublin city centre have reported a huge drop-off in trade as the Lockout enters its fourth week. It has gotten so bad that The Freeman’s Journal has labelled Dublin the 'idle city'.

A sharp drop in sales across many businesses is linked to the number of people who do not now travel into the city centre from the suburbs. Reports suggest that people do not come into the city because they are afraid of disturbances and because they fear they will not be able to get home.

Theatres, music halls and cinemas have been badly hit and public houses, particularly around the docks, have suffered significant loss of trade.

There has also been a collapse on the sale of fish and vegetables at markets in Dublin. A dry summer has hit the supply of vegetables and merchants are fearful of importing from England in case perishable food is held up at the port.

Fish has become something of a luxury. At the Fish Market, eight plaice are usually sold for 3s., but the price has now risen to 8s.

A leading salesman in the markets says that the impact of the price increases now extends beyond the very poor: ‘I am afraid if this goes on, fruit and vegetables will go up in price beyond the reach of the middle class.'

The increase in food prices has contributed to opposition to the strikers and their leaders from Arthur Griffith’s newspaper Sinn Féin. In an article, on the cost of living on Dublin, in its edition released this morning, that newspaper noted that the purchasing power of money over the last decade in Dublin was greatly diminished.

Paddy Buttner describes how food was distributed to the locked out workers and their families. Interview taken from 'Ireland A Television History', a joint RTÉ/BBC production. To view on the RTÉ Archives site, click here.

Sinn Féin accused Jim Larkin and his trade union of exploiting the discontent of workers over the fact that the increase in wages had not matched the increase in prices.

The paper was clear in its opposition to the strike: ‘It should be obvious to anyone who troubles to think along economic lines, that the sympathetic strike when money has decreased in purchasing power can have – once capital organizes to fight it – only one result, a further impoverishment and weakening of the strength of the wage-earner.’

‘To strike when food is dear in the hope of defeating organized capital is as fatuous as it would be for an army to go to war without a commissariat.’


Century Ireland

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