William X. O'Brien

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William X. O'Brien (ITGWU) and William O'Brien (Home Rule/IPP) were contemporaries in Irish politics early in the 20th century, but should not be confused. For other people of the same name see William O'Brien (disambiguation).
William X. O'Brien
William X. O'Brien.png
Teachta Dála
In office
July 1937 – May 1938
In office
June 1927 – August 1927
Constituency Tipperary
In office
June 1922 – August 1923
Constituency Dublin South
Personal details
Born (1881-01-23)23 January 1881
Clonakilty, Ireland
Died 31 October 1968(1968-10-31) (aged 87)
Nationality Irish
Political party National Labour Party (1944–46)
Labour Party (1912–44)
Occupation Trade union leader

William X. O'Brien (23 January 1881 – 31 October 1968) was a politician and trade unionist in Ireland.[1]

Born in Clonakilty, County Cork, O'Brien moved with his family to Dublin in 1897, and quickly became involved in the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP).[2] O'Brien is described as "a very significant figure in the ISRP" by the historian of the ISRP, David Lynch.[3]

A close friend and associate of James Connolly,[2] O'Brien helped establish the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in 1909, and was instrumental in the Dublin Lock-out strike in 1913.[4]

A member of the Irish Neutrality League, and Anti-Conscription Committee, during the World War I, O'Brien was interned on several occasions by the Dublin Castle government.[5] During one of these instances, he stood in the 1920 Stockport by-election, but was refused a release to campaign in it.

With the formation of the Irish Free State, O'Brien was elected as Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin South at the 1922 general election, and again for Tipperary in June 1927 and again in 1937.[6]

An important figure in the Labour Party in Ireland in its formative days, O'Brien resisted James Larkin's attempt to gain control of the Party on release from prison. Taking Larkin to court over his occupation of ITGWU headquarters, the Larkin-O'Brien feud resulted in a split within the labour and trade union movements, and the formation of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.[7]

W. T. Cosgrave while President of the Executive Council of the Free State government notably turned down a plea for asylum in Ireland for Leon Trotsky made by O'Brien. In 1930, Cosgrave told him:[8]

"I could see no reason why Trotsky should be considered by us. Russian bonds had been practically confiscated. He said there was to be consideration of them. I said it was not by Trotsky, whose policy was the reverse. I asked his nationality. Reply Jew. They were against religion (he said that was modified). I said not by Trotsky. He said he had hoped there would be an asylum here as in England for all. I agreed that under normal conditions, which we had not here, that would be all right. But we had no touch with this man or his Government, nor did they interest themselves in us in his 'day'.

Active in politics and the trade union movement into his 60s, O'Brien retired in 1946 and died on 31 October 1968.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mr. William O'Brien". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Morrissey SJ, Thomas J. (2007). William O'Brien, 1881–1968 - Socialist, republican, Dáil deputy, editor and trade union leader. Four Courts Press. ISBN 978-1-84682-067-0. 
  3. ^ Lynch, David (2005). Radical Politics in Modern Ireland A History of the Irish Socialist Republican Party 1896-1904. Irish Academic Press Ltd. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7165-3356-6. 
  4. ^ Yeates, Padraig (2001). Lockout: Dublin 1913. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23890-8. 
  5. ^ The Irish Citizen Army - history
  6. ^ "William O'Brien". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  7. ^ SIPTU.ie - History, An Overview
  8. ^ Keogh, Dermot (1998). Jews in Twentieth-century Ireland: Refugees, Anti-semitism and the Holocaust. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-1-85918-150-8. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael O'Lehane
President of the Irish Trade Union Congress
1913
Succeeded by
James Larkin
Preceded by
Thomas McPartlin
President of the Dublin Trades Council
1914
Succeeded by
Thomas Farren
Preceded by
John Simmons
Secretary of the Dublin Trades Council
1913–1918
Succeeded by
Thomas Farren
Preceded by
Thomas MacPartlin
President of the Irish Trade Union Congress
1918
Succeeded by
Thomas Cassidy
Preceded by
P. T. Daly
General Secretary of the Irish Trade Union Congress
1918–1920
Succeeded by
Thomas Johnson
Preceded by
James Larkin
General Secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union
1924–1946
Succeeded by
Tom Kennedy?
Preceded by
Luke Duffy
President of the Irish Trade Union Congress
1925
Succeeded by
Denis Cullen
Preceded by
Sam Kyle
President of the Irish Trade Union Congress
1941
Succeeded by
Michael Colgan