Irish Trades Union Congress
Until 1894, representatives of Irish trade unions attended the British Trades Union Congress. However, many felt that they had little impact on the British body, and decided to form their own federation. This met for the first time in 1894. Although some Irish delegates continued to attend the British TUC, their decision to bar representatives of trades councils from 1895 increased dissatisfaction, and the ITUC soon became the leading Irish union federation. In 1900, the British TUC asked the ITUC to amalgamate with it, but this request was rejected.
In 1912, the ITUC established a political arm, becoming known as the Irish Labour Party and Trade Union Congress (or Irish Trade Union Congress and Labour Party). The political wing evolved into the Labour Party. Despite the Partition of Ireland, the ITUC continued to organise throughout the island, but tensions arose between the unions based in Britain and with members in both Britain and Ireland, and the Irish-based unions. In 1936, the organisation formed a commission to examine the issue. William X. O'Brien put in a proposal to form ten industrial groupings with no overlaps to negotiate on behalf of workers - in effect, this would have passed existing union activities to ten industrial unions. This and three other proposals were discussed at the 1939 conference, but O'Brien and his supporters walked out and formed the Advisory Council of Irish Unions. This comprised eighteen unions based in Ireland, and accounted for about half the ITUC membership.
The Advisory Council cut ties with the ITUC in 1945 and formed the Congress of Irish Unions. After long negotiations, the two organisations reunited in 1959 to form the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
- 1894: John Simmons
- 1899: Hugh McManus
- 1900: E. L. Richardson
- 1910: P. T. Daly
- 1918: William X. O'Brien
- 1920: Thomas Johnson
- 1928: Eamonn Lynch
- 1941: Cathal O'Shannon
- 1945: Thomas Johnson
- 1945: Ruaidhri Roberts
Source: Donal Nevin et al., Trade Union Century, p. 437
- Trade Union: Ireland, EuroFound
- Terence Bowman, People's champion: the life of Alexander Bowman, pioneer of Labour politics, p.148
- Joan Campbell, European labor unions, p.250
- A Short History of Congress, Irish Congress of Trade Unions