Centenary Stamp Marks Larkin and Leadership

29/04/2009

Centenary Stamp Marks Larkin and Leadership

A postage stamp marking the founding of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union and its central role in the story of the Irish labour movement was issued by An Post today.

The 55c stamp features a photograph of ITGWU founder James Larkin against a background of the ‘Starry Plough’. The stamp, designed by John Conway, commemorates the launch of the trade union in 1909.

The ITGWU was formed as a breakaway from the Liverpool-based National Union of Dock Workers (NUDL). It quickly outstripped the NUDL and was at the heart of such events as the 1913 Lockout, the 1916 Rising and the growth of trade unionism in Ireland. In 1990 the ITGWU merged with the Federated Workers’ Union of Ireland to form SIPTU, the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union.

After its formal launch and registration on January 4th, 1909, membership spread rapidly and by 1911 the new union moved into its new headquarters, the re-named Liberty Hall. James Connolly served as Acting General Secretary of the Union following Larkin’s departure for the USA in 1914.

Welcoming the new stamp at its unveiling at the GPO today, SIPTU General Secretary, Joe O’Flynn said that when the ITGWU was formally registered on January 4th 1909, it came as a whirlwind, transforming trade union organisation into a new militant voice for workers where an injury to one was a concern for all. 

“The ITGWU was formed by four basic tenets: Belief in the tactics of collective action; a social philosophy; Irish unions for workers in Ireland and strong political action in workers’ interests.  Above all, the new union in 1909 brought hope where there was despair.  The seeds planted by Jim Larkin, James Connolly and dockers from Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Dundalk and Waterford have flowered perennially, among workers from all industries and sectors of the economy and will continue to do so.”

The stamp may be viewed or purchased from main Post Offices and online at www.irishstamps.ie

 

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