Sunday, August 07, 2016

JUBILEE MARTYRS


Click on any image for a larger version

While O'Connell St. was hosting the fall of Nelson and the 1916 Jubilee march past, another drama with revolutionary reverberations was playing out in Kildare St. and Merrion Square.

It was 1966 and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers' Association (ICMSA) had had enough. Milk prices were rock bottom, farmers and their families were suffering badly, and they were determined to force the Government to do something about it.

They decided to picket the Dáil, a move that was grossly illegal and seen at the time as threatening the foundations of the State. The precincts of parliament were sacrosanct and legally protected.



So they were arrested in their droves as reinforcements were called up to take the place of those arrested. Charlie Haughey, as Minister for Agriculture, was displaying a Napoleonic defiance of one of the two most powerful farmers' forces in the land.

In the end, the farmers carried the day but not without cost. Bitterness between the two major associations lasted for years afterwards. And no doubt Charlie Haughey did not forget the damage to his macho image.

Why did I use the word Jubilee in the title of this post. Well, 1966 was the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, which was being commemorated at the time and this is the 50th anniversary of the protest. Incidentally, it turned out to have been a signifcant year in my photographic career, but that's another story.

You may notice the service medals on the veteran protester in the photo above. Both leaders of the ICMSA were veterans of the War of Independence. Interesting that they were then all defying the law outside the very parliament they were instrumental in bringing about.

For a blow by blow account of the protest and its aftermath check out this excellent piece in The Examiner by Ray Ryan.

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