Media reports that a plaque to commemorate the centenary of the founding of the Labour Party in Clonmel by my great-grandfather was unveiled behind closed doors in fear of protest, is regrettable.
I need not remind the Mayor of Clonmel, Cllr. Darren Ryan, that the party of which he is a member was, of course, born out of protest. Indeed in moving the motion to establish the Labour Party James Connolly referred to ’differences of opinion being the very lifeblood of discussion’. That being said, this private unveiling could have been easily avoided. The founding of the Labour Party to give the working class of that time and since a voice in the affairs of the nation was a crucial contribution in developing democracy on this island. Had the plaque been unveiled on that basis members of all parties, groups and citizens could have celebrated that contribution without rancour.
In the interest of historical accuracy it is important to point out that James Connolly and Jim Larkin did not found the Labour Party in Clonmel as stated in reports. Though both were giants of the Labour movement as such, it was James Connolly alone who moved the motion on that historic occasion with the support of a fellow delegate from Belfast (Source - ‘Forth the Banners Go’ - Reminiscences of William O’Brien, published by The Three Candles Limited, 1969).
James Connolly Heron,
4 Oxford Road,