Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

How Jim Larkin inspires us

The statue of Jim Larkin in Dublin's O' Connell Street is based on the symbolic picture of Jim pleading with his hands in the air at a public rally.

It is usually photographed with the Dublin Millennium Spire in the background. Belfast marked the centenary of one of the most famous incidents in its history, the dockers' strike of 1907, with the erection of a similar statue of Jim Larkin in 2007. Although the strike ultimately was defeated, it left a long term legacy, as it paved the way for the setting up of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and effectively marked the birth of Labour politics in Ireland, and Jim Larkin led this in both Belfast and Dublin.

In Belfast, the statue of Jim Larkin can be seen against the background of the 'spire of hope' rising up from the sanctuary of St Anne's Cathedral .

I was struck that in the cities of his greatest influence Jim Larkin is depicted in the same pose and separate (later in the case of the Dublin statue and earlier in the case of the Belfast one) dominant spires in the background.

It is as though the statues were commissioned and the spires appeared.

Is this art mimicking life, if accidentally? We are being asked to look beyond and above his place in history and to plead like Jim for workers' rights today, especially in the developing world.



GERRY MOLUMBY

Belfast

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