Legal Murder

Not so long ago that section of the Press that professes to be democratic and which is generally engaged in whitewashing the Liberal Government, was pretending to be horrified because once again the troops had been used in defence of the sacred property of the bosses on the Rand, Their leader writers were “astounded” that a Liberal Government could countenance the massacre of working men. They “demanded” an “impartial” enquiry into affairs “which caused every decent Britisher to blush with shame at the deeds perpetrated under the British flag.”

And now we have the diabolical outrage repeated—this time nearer home. Not quite so near as Featherstone or Llanelli, Liverpool or London—all of which have been the scenes of events that have no doubt conveniently slipped from the memories of the leader writers—but at Dublin, the green city.

It is not proposed here to reprint the tales of horror which have found such wide publicity through other channels and which must still be fresh in the public mind—the tales of brutal bludgeoning of women and children, and of the murder of unarmed men. Suffice it to say, in the words of a Government supporter :

”Hundreds of people were injured by the police and two men died as a result of injuries received. Women returning from Mass with prayer books in their hands were grossly assaulted by the police; little girls were thrashed by the police; one girl in her teens was dragged through the streets by the hair of her head and beaten by the police; women were dragged out of their beds and beaten while lying nearly naked, by the police. All these charges have been made and repeated by reliable people.”

The “Times” says: “The police deliberately waited for runaways and clubbed them as they ran,” and that “the whole proceedings were monstrous and unnecessary.”

Reliable witnesses testify that no violence was offered by the crowd and that Nolan, one of the murdered men, was trying to get away when he was struck to the ground by a policeman. “As he fell five Dublin Metropolitan police and two Royal Irish Constabulary struck him. When he tried to get on his knees he was beaten again.” A supporter of “law and order”—one who rushed to defend H. H. Asquith, the assassin of Featherstone—Mr. Handel Booth, M.P., says that the police, with pitiless brutality, charged the crowd, which was a perfectly peaceful one.

Radical, ragtime “Reynolds’s” is horrified. “Someone should be charged with murder for this,” it screeched. How innocent! Someone should have been charged with murder on the Rand, and at Featherstone! At Mitchelstown in 1887 the coroner’s jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the county inspector and three constables. But what happened? The same as will happen in Dublin and at St. Austell in Cornwall; the same as happened at Featherstone.

An enquiry was held into the affair which has made the last mentioned place notorious, which whitewashed all concerned, and—nothing was done. No action was taken by the Government to attach blame to any of its officers.

The explanation is simple. Those in charge are quite prepared to admit that a mistake has been made, but the mistake is not that the people have been slaughtered. Oh, no!—that happens every day in the pursuit of profit. The blunder is that the workers have been suppressed in such a way as to arouse suspicion and distrust.

The workers have been told that the police are out to “keep the ring,” and that the law is for rich and poor alike; but these “incidents” tend to show that the police are maintained to protect private property and the interests of the shareholders of private concerns.

If all that is said is true, those in charge of affairs in Dublin have something to answer for besides which the Marconi ministers’ little deal pales into insignificance. Yet we are still waiting to hear a denial of the statements made by a trade union official, Mr. P. T. Daly, that the magistrate, E. G. Swifte, and chief prosecutor, Sir Patrick Coll, are shareholders in the Dublin United Tramways Company, and are therefore directly concerned in smashing the strike.

These narrow-minded tradesmen and petty officials are always as putty in the hands of the lords and masters of the land, but when their own petty interests are directly at stake, there is nothing too degrading and brutal for them to do. If it be true that the magistrate who proclaimed the meeting and who tried Larkin, together with the Chief Prosecutor for the Crown and the wife of the Under Secretary for Ireland, to say nothing of certain of the Irish Constabulary, are shareholders in the Dublin United Tramway Company; if it be true that any or all of these were directly concerned in the company against which the men were striking, then the “blunder” is easily understood. Their precious dividends were at stake, and they would risk all their hopes of a front seat in heaven for a few dirty pieces of gold.

In any case the position is clear. As in Africa the workers, struggling against adverse circumstances, faced with worsening conditions, strike for some improvement in their miserable lot, and call a public meeting to discuss these matters. “Under the British flag” both these courses are supposed to be legal. The “right” of free speech is, of course, well known. Yet in Dublin as in Africa, these meetings are proclaimed, in the one case by an interested party, and in the other case by a government under the control of the Randlords. Upon the workers attempting to exercise the right they are popularly supposed to possess, a gang of hooligans, trained to murder, are let loose upon them with baton and bullet.

“The proceedings were monstrous and unnecessary.” What a confession! Is it true that they could be monstrous and necessary?

The capitalists exist to exploit. Their only concern with the worker is to rob them. They dabble in company shares to get dividends and dividends they must have at all costs; the toilers are not looked upon as aught else than wealth producers, and immediately they threaten to stop producing profit they must be coerced. Why dodge the fact?

We are in the midst of a class war, of a bitter struggle that can know no cessation until the master class are overthrown. Brute force is the last resort, and to brute force the capitalists turn, knowing full well that they hold the master card in the game. The Socialist did not make the struggle, neither does he desire it. But he does appeal to the toilers to take a lesson from these facts and to remember Dublin and Johannesburg, Peterloo and Mitchelstown, Tonypandy and Featherstone, when next they invited to throw up their caps for the Liberals or any other such murderous crew.

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