by Democrat reporter
A MAJOR new film on James Connolly is to receive significant financial backing from SIPTU - the country's largest trade union. Connolly was the acting general secretary of SIPTU's predecessor, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, at the time of his execution after the Easter Rising in 1916.
The film, which will star Scottish actor, Peter Mullan, as Connolly and Patrick Bergin as Larkin - will be directed by Adrian Dunbar and produced by Tom Stokes and Frank Allen of Rascal Films.
The union's national executive council recently decided to back the project - with the exact size of its investment to be determined after further consultation with the producers.
SIPTU general secretary, Joe O'Flynn, made the announcement at a ceremony of reflection to mark the ninetieth anniversary of Connolly's death on May 12 1916 - organised by the union at the Connolly Statue in Beresford Place facing the union's headquarters at Liberty Hall. Dublin.
"James Connolly was passionately committed to organising workers," said Joe O'Flynn. "His prowess as a union organiser was demonstrated in various parts of the country - in Belfast organising the young women working in the linen factories, in Wexford organsing foundry workers, in Kerry where he was instrumental in establishing the ITGWU's Tralee branch and of course, in Dublin, where he, along with Big Jim Larkin, took part in the titanic struggle of the 1913 Lock-out - which Connolly described as a 'drawn battle' but which nevertheless thwarted the aim of William Martin Murphy and the Employers Federation to smash the ITGWU and discourage workers from ever getting organised again.
"Under the leadership of James Connolly, the Irish Citizen Army - the workers' militia established to protect union members during the Lock-out - became an integral part of the struggle for national independence - a struggle which Connolly considered to be a natural extension of his work to free workers from the bonds of exploitation and drudgery.
"The cause of labour is the cause of Ireland," he wrote. "The cause of Ireland is the cause of labour. They cannot be dissevered."
"A two-fold cause for which Connolly and his colleagues in the Irish Citizen Army were prepared to lay down their lives.
"Today we acknowledge his sacrifice. We reflect on his legacy - the vision of a people free from want, free from impoverishment and free from exploitation. And as we recognise that major social deficits continue amid this unprecedented economic boom, we rededicate ourselves to work for the elimination of exploitation by organising workers to stand together to assert their rights to share fully in the fruits of this prosperity.
"No less than in Connolly's time, trade unions were never more necessary than they are now. There is no better way to honour his memory than to build our Union and to build the trade union movement so as to make his vision a reality."
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