Fórsa President Ann McGee helped launch a new book about the Limerick Soviet last weekend. The publication of Let Us Rise was the centrepiece of the city’s commemoration of the events, which has been spearheaded by local Fórsa official Mike McNamara.
The 1919 strike, by more than 15,000 workers in the city, made international headlines. After a permit system was introduced by the British military authorities, the workers took over all aspects of the running of the city, produced their own daily paper, policed the city, controlled all food and fuel supplies and even printed its own currency. It became known internationally as the Limerick Soviet.
Speaking at the book launch, Ann said the soviet demonstrated the power of union organisation, and the ingenuity of working people working together. “From food distribution through power supply, a citizens’ police force and even a newspaper, it showed what working people can achieve when we’re united. And the creation of its own currency was a bold challenge to the bankers, which perhaps we might have revisited on this island a few years ago,” she said.
Ann congratulated the Limerick Writers’ Centre, which brought the project to fruition. She also acknowledged Mike McNamara. He’s also President of Limerick Trades Council, which has been is behind this month’s commemorations.
“It’s fitting that they are taking this initiative at a time when Fórsa, Siptu and other unions – along with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions – are working to breathe new life into the trades’ councils – and to put trade unions at the centre of communities across Ireland. The Limerick Soviet is an inspiration in that important work,” she said.