Irish Transport and General Workers' Union

Irish Transport And General Workers' Union

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 1908 as a general union. 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 1924, Larkin's brother Peter formed a new union, the Workers' Union of Ireland, to which many of the ITGWU's Dublin members affiliated. 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.

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