Mr Bernard Shaw on the Strike
From the archive: This article, focusing on George Bernard Shaw and his role in a demonstration demanding the release of James Larkin, was published in The Irish Times on November 8, 1913
Advice to Arm.
“If you put a policeman on the footing of a mad dog,” said Mr Shaw, “it can only end in one way, and that is that all respectable men will have to arm themselves. (Cheers.) I suggest you should arm yourselves with something which should put a decisive stop to the proceedings of the police. I hope that observation of mine will be carefully reported. I should rather like to be prosecuted for sedition, and to have an opportunity of explaining publicly what exactly I mean by it.” (Laughter.)
Mr G Russell and the Dublin Slums
Mr George Russell said in Dublin they no longer recognised people by the old differences. People there were either on the side of labour, trying to get humane conditions, or on the side of those who were trying to defeat labour.
There had arisen a third party, consisting of super-human beings who cared so little for the body as to say that it would be better for children to starve rather than leave the Christian atmosphere of Dublin. (Groans.) Dublin, they might not know, was the most Christian city in these islands. (Laughter.) The religious spirit with which they are charged is supposed to be ample compensation for the people for the diseases which are there, and the food and comfort which are not there.
If any poor parents thought otherwise and tried to get their children away from that little earthly paradise – (laughter) – they were met at the ports and railway stations by an array of these super-human beings, and they are flung headlong out of the stations and their children snatched from them.
The poor working man in Dublin has no right to his own children. (Groans.) If these children were taken away from the atmosphere of the Dublin slums they might get discontented – so a very holy man said. They might get full meals for a little, and become so inconsiderate as to ask for them all their lives long. Those present had no idea what the Dublin slums were like. They were so overrun with vermin that doctors who were friends of his told him that the only condition in which men could get sleep in them was when they were drugged with sleep. It made him mad to think that man, immortal man the divine, should live in this wretchedness.
Larkin may have been indiscreet – (cries of “No”) – but he (Mr Russell) believed in the sight of Heaven that crimes were all on the other side. If Courts of Justice were courts of humanity the masters of Dublin would be in the dock charged with criminal conspiracy. Their crime was that they tried to starve out one-third of the people of Dublin.
Mrs Dèspard and Miss Sylvia Pankhurst were amongst the later speakers.
It was announced that the collection, with promises, amounted to over £400.
A resolution demanding Larkin’s release was carried amidst cheers.