Irish Transport and General Workers' Union

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The Irish Transport and General Workers Union, an Irish trade union, was founded by James Larkin in January 1909 as a general union.[1][2] Initially drawing its membership from branches of the Liverpool-based National Union of Dock Labourers, from which Larkin had been expelled, it grew to include workers in a range of industries. The ITGWU logo was the Red Hand of Ulster, which is synonymous with ancient Gaelic Ulster.

The ITGWU was at the centre of the Dublin Lockout in 1913 and the events left a lasting impression on the ITGWU and hence on the Irish Labour Movement.

After Larkin's departure for the United States in 1914 in the wake of the Lockout, William X. O'Brien became the union's leading figure. He later served as general secretary for many years.

In 1923, Larkin formed a new union, the Workers' Union of Ireland, to which many of the ITGWU's Dublin members affiliated.[3] The ITGWU nevertheless remained the dominant force in Irish trade unionism, especially outside the capital. William O'Brien and James Larkin remained bitter personal enemies, and when Larkin and his supporters were readmitted into the Labour Party in the early 1940s, O'Brien engineered a split in the party, with the new National Labour Party claiming that the main party had been infiltrated by communists. A further split occurred in the Irish Trade Union Congress when that body accepted the WUI's membership in 1945. The ITGWU left the Congress and established the rival Congress of Irish Unions.

From the 1950s on proposals to merge the two unions were floated. Finally, in 1990, the ITGWU merged with the Workers's Union of Ireland to form the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU).[4]

The ITGWU should not be confused with the British-based Transport and General Workers Union, which also organises in Ireland under the name Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU).

General Secretaries[edit]

1909: James Larkin
1924: William X. O'Brien
1946: Tom Kennedy
1948: Frank Purcell
1959: Fintan Kennedy
1969: Michael Mullen
1983: Christy Kirwan

General Presidents[edit]

1909: Thomas Foran
1939: Tom Kennedy
1946: William McMullen
1953: John Conroy
1969: Fintan Kennedy
1981: John Carroll

Vice Presidents[edit]

1924: Tom Kennedy
1940: William McMullen
1947: John Conroy
1953: Edward Browne
1969: John Carroll
1982: Christy Kirwan
1983: Edmund Browne


  1. ^ History of Trade Unions, Irish Labour History Society. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  2. ^ Irish Transport and General Workers' Union papers, National Library of Ireland. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  3. ^ Irish Transport and General Workers' Union papers, National Library of Ireland. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  4. ^ SIPTU about page. Retrieved 2013-06-01.