From Civil Rights to the Bailout

From Civil Rights to the Bailout: Social movements, workers agitation, and left-wing activism in Ireland, 1968-2010


Conference organised by the Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class this Friday and Saturday 19-20 June, featuring papers on a diverse range of topics from a range of speakers from academic and activist backgrounds. There will be a special session devoted to how to record history through oral history and archives, and we are especially pleased to announce a discussion in the Mechanics’ Institute on Friday evening, 19 June, in which activists from the west of Ireland will talk about campaigns they have been involved with from organising administrative workers in UCG, to Gaeltacht civil rights. The programme can be seen below, and more information is available at the following website:

All welcome, please share widely!

Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour and Class

NUI Galway

Moore Institute,

Hardiman Research Building

19-20 June 2015


Fri 19 June

13.00-13.45 Registration

13.45 Welcome address

14.00-15.30 Panel 1: The context of Northern Ireland

15.30-15.45 Break

15.45-17.15 Panel 2: Varieties of Protest

19.30 Mechanics Institute, Middle Street: ‘Civil Rights and Union Rights: Veteran Voices from the West of Ireland’

Sat 20 June

10.00-11.30 Panel 3: Radical Politics

11.30-11.45 Break

11.45-13.15 Panel 4: Challenging legal and cultural constraints

13.15-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Panel 5: Engaging Beyond Ireland

15.30-15.45 Break

15.45-17.45 Panel 6: Preserving History: Oral History and Archives


Friday 19 June


1. The context of Northern Ireland

‘The People’s Democracy and the struggle for Civil Rights’

Matt Collins (University of Ulster)

‘”You can’t be neutral on a moving train”: Trade union responses to violence and sectarianism in Northern Ireland’

Seán Byers (Queen’s University Belfast and Trademark)

‘Responses in the West of Ireland to civil rights protest in Northern Ireland, 1968-72’

Gerard Madden (NUI Galway)




2. Varieties of Protest

‘Rural Identity and Protest Mobilisation: the case of the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association’

Trish O’Flynn (Open University)

‘Save the Roundstone Bog’: the Environmental Activism of Tim Robinson

Derek Gladwin (University of British Columbia)

‘An interrogation of the character of protest in Ireland since the bailout’

Mary Naughton (University College Dublin)

19.30: Mechanics Institute, Middle Street, Galway

‘Civil Rights and Union Rights: Veteran Voices from the West of Ireland’

Tish Gibbons will talk to Liz Walsh, Mary Cooke and Brid Carr about their efforts in unionizing their fellow administrative workers at UCG in the mid-1970s in the teeth of opposition from University management.

Cllr Declan Bree (Connolly Youth Movement / Sligo-Leitrim Independent Socialist Organisation) and Cllr Seosamh Ó Cuaig(Gluaiseacht Cearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta, independent socialist republican) will discuss their careers as activists with John Cunningham. Audience questions welcome.

Saturday 20 June


3. Radical Politics

‘When Irish anarchists faced the hangman’s noose – the case of Marie and Noel Murray’

Alan MacSimoin (Independent scholar and activist)

‘Youth in Revolt, Youth in Retreat: Labour Youth and the expulsion of Militant 1978-1989’

Cathal Malone (Independent scholar)

‘Saor Éire Action Group, 1967-1975: The vanguard of Trotskyist revolution in Ireland?’

Séan Ó Duibhir (NUI Galway)




4. Challenging legal and cultural constraints

‘The Political Economy of Workers’ Liberty in 1980s Ireland: On the right to strike, union solidarity and the Talbot car workers’ factory occupation.’

Thomas Murray (University College Dublin)

‘Deconstructing the Irish Propensity to Constitutionalise Abortion: A Leftist, Feminist Critique’

Charles O’Sullivan (NUI Maynooth)

‘Why inequality Persists- Racial Stratification in the Labour Market’

Ebun Joseph (University College Dublin)


Lunch (provided)


5. Engaging beyond Ireland

‘Challenging Empires – EU Critical Activism & Emerging Identities’

Peter Lacey (NUI Maynooth and activist)

‘Performing Activism: Theatre as a Political Space’

Tracy Ryan O’Flaherty (University of Sussex)

‘Solidarity Forever: Irish Workers and the Miners’ Strike in Britain, 1984-5’

Daryl Leeworthy (Cardiff University)


6. Preserving History: Oral History and Archives

‘The Irish Left Archive: creating the informal Archive’

Ciarán Swan (Irish Left Archive)

‘I knew nothing about the thing that I constantly declared myself to be – a socialist.’ Oral History and Left-Wing Activism

Mary Muldowney (Alternative Visions Oral History Group)

This final panel will take the form of a workshop with the two speakers introducing the session on how best to conduct oral history and preserve documentation, both providing case studies of projects they are involved with. Audience participation and discussion is strongly encouraged once the speakers have concluded.


Registration: €5

This will help cover the costs which include coffee, tea and biscuits to be provided at all breaks, and a lunch of sandwiches to be provided on the Saturday.

In order to provide for catering, we need an estimate of the number of attendees. If you would like to attend, please contact David Convery at and please also make us aware of any special dietary requirements. If you would like to attend but feel you cannot afford the registration fee, please let us know.

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