The United Irishmen and the Men of No Property the Sans Culottes of Belfast
4 sa stoc
In the 1790’s Belfast, then only a small town of less than 20.000 inhabitants, was the foremost revolutionary centre in Ireland, and celebrated the French Revolution as nowhere else.
The merchant founders of the United Irishmen in October 1791 fleetingly saw themselves as an administration in waiting in 1792, but were soon challenged from below by Belfast’s very own sans culottes.
In July the Volunteers, now imitating the French National Guard, marched in celebration of the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. But they were simultaneously enforcing the draconian combination laws against striking cotton weavers, our trade union pioneers.
With the onset of political repression and economic crisis in 1793 the United Irishmen moved towards revolution. Now they depended on ‘the men of no property’ though it was always less than clear what they would deliver for them.
In the aftermath of defeat in 1798 the working class were left as defenceless prey to a new and ghastly caricature of ‘liberty’ which demanded an unfettered free market in cheap labour, a legacy that is still with us today.
|Toisí||210 × 146 × 5 mm|