William X. O'Brien

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William X. O'Brien
William X O'Brien.jpg
Teachta Dála
In office
July 1937 – May 1938
In office
June 1927 – August 1927
ConstituencyTipperary
In office
June 1922 – August 1923
ConstituencyDublin South
Personal details
Born(1881-01-23)23 January 1881
Clonakilty, Ireland
Died31 October 1968(1968-10-31) (aged 87)
NationalityIrish
Political partyNational Labour Party (1944–46)
Labour Party (1912–44)
OccupationTrade 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, and christened 'John William',[2] O'Brien moved with his family to Dublin in 1897, and quickly became involved in the Irish Socialist Republican Party (ISRP).[3] O'Brien is described as "a very significant figure in the ISRP" by the historian of the ISRP, David Lynch.[4] He was a member of the Socialist Party of Ireland, serving on its executive.[5]

A close friend and associate of James Connolly,[3] O'Brien helped establish the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in 1909, and was instrumental in the Dublin Lock-out strike in 1913.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

An important figure in the Labour Party in Ireland in its formative days, O'Brien resisted James Larkin's attempt to regain 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.[9]

Ideologically, O'Brien was a Reformist and Democratic Socialist, believing that Irish socialists should bring about socialism via the ballot box, not through violence or direct action. Despite his Easter Rising links, he consistently avoided endorsing militancy as a tool of the labour movement in Ireland. This viewpoint contrasted strongly to the beliefs of Jim Larkin and was partially why the two could not agree to co-operate. Only once did O'Brien seriously consider militancy; during the dawn of the Irish Civil War and fearing the worst, O'Brien and other Labour leaders turned towards the Irish Citizen Army, proposing the concept of a "Workers' Army", of which the ICA would form the nucleus. However, this idea was rebuffed. O'Brien was once asked if was disappointed that the Irish electorate hadn't used their new parliamentary democracy to push for a stronger socialist presence, O'Brien reaffirmed his view by stating:

In 1930, O'Brien sought to have Leon Trotsky granted asylum in Ireland, but the head of the Free State government, W. T. Cosgrave, refused to allow it.[11]

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. ^ William O'Brien 1881-1968: Socialist, Republican, Dáil Deputy, Editor, and Trade Union Leader, Thomas J. Morrissey, Four Courts Press, 2007, pg 1
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Barberis et al, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, p.207-208, 251
  6. ^ Yeates, Padraig (2001). Lockout: Dublin 1913. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23890-8.
  7. ^ "The Irish Citizen Army - history". Blackened.net. Archived from the original on 16 April 1998.
  8. ^ "William O'Brien". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  9. ^ "History, An Overview". SIPTU.ie. Archived from the original on 22 February 2006.
  10. ^ Mitchell, A. (2019). William O'Brien, 1881-1968, and the Irish Labour Movement. Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, [online] 60(239/240), pp.311-331. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30088733 [Accessed 12 Jan. 2019].
  11. ^ 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 Trades Union Congress
1913
Succeeded by
James Larkin
Preceded by
Thomas MacPartlin
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 Trades Union Congress
1918
Succeeded by
Thomas Cassidy
Preceded by
P. T. Daly
General Secretary of the Irish Trades Union Congress
1918–1920
Succeeded by
Thomas Johnson
Preceded by
Thomas Johnson
Treasurer of the Irish Trades Union Congress
1921–1924
Succeeded by
Archie Heron
Preceded by
James Larkin
General Secretary of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union
1924–1946
Succeeded by
Thomas Kennedy?
Preceded by
Luke Duffy
President of the Irish Trades Union Congress
1925
Succeeded by
Denis Cullen
Preceded by
Archie Heron
Treasurer of the Irish Trades Union Congress
1926–1929
Succeeded by
Denis Cullen
Preceded by
Sam Kyle
President of the Irish Trades Union Congress
1941
Succeeded by
Michael Colgan