History of The Inchicore C-Op
HISTORY OF THE INCHICORE CO-OP
The Truth About the Inchicore/Ballyfermot Co-op The author of this article, MR. JOSEPH DEASY, was chairman of the management committee of the Inchicore-Ballyfermot Co-operative Society. He was prominent in the Labour movement of Dublin for many years. Between 1945-50 he was a Labour Councillor on the Dublin Corporation. In the 1948 Dail election he contested SW Dublin as a Labour candidates polling a good vote (Reprinted from "Irish Workers' Voice" for Nov-Dec, 1952.)
The Truth About the Inchicore/Ballyfermot Co-op Since the latter part of September, Ballyfermot and Inchicore has witnessed one of the most scandalous and unscrupulous campaigns ever waged against a people's movement. I refer to the onslaught against the Inchicore-Ballyfermot Co-operative Society, Dublin. This Society was founded in 1946 and was based on the democratic principles of all co-operative movements. It was legally registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts early in 1947.
It was then, as now, non-political and non-sectarian and included among its members and committee persons of different political and religious beliefs. After a short time in existence the Society purchased a small shop in Inchicore. During two trading years of this shop's history dividends were distributed among the members on the usual co-op basis, the amount purchased by each member. In 1951, through hard work and initiative, the allocation of one of the rented shops in Ballyfermot was secured from the Housing Committee of the Dublin Corporation.
The membership had in the meantime increased considerably and reached a figure approaching 400 paid-up members and 300 partially paid-up. This Ballyfermot shop is a splendid, first-class grocery and provision stores. By careful and conscientious management it was well on the high road to success and promised to be a real asset to the people of the area. Then, after 12 months of such progress, reactionary forces, led, unfortunately, by the clergy, launched a campaign to wreck the Society. The first blow was the disruption of a public open-air meeting, the sole purpose of which was the propagation of the co-operative idea.
The attempted justification for this disruption was that some members of the Society's management committee were associated with the Irish Workers' League. It has never been explained why such a dangerous and inflammable means of starting the attack was resorted to. If exception was taken to certain committee members there were surely more just and mannerly means of indicating it. So outrageous was the tactic that even one of the three members of the management committee, who later played a treacherous part in the attack, expressed his indignation at the procedure.
As chairman of that public meeting I adopted the only attitude which could be correct. I declared that the Co-op was non-sectarian and non-political and consequently refused to discuss the political beliefs of myself or any member of my committee. This attitude was, some days later, the subject of a poisonous leaflet distributed in the area. Though printed, it did not bear the name of a printer. Up to this point the attack had not adversely affected business, which, on the contrary, had somewhat increased. However, there were indications that powerful forces in the area threatened the very existence of the Society.
At this stage we were led to believe that the clergy were prepared to withdrew their objections to the Society if the IWL members resigned their official positions. In spite of the injustice involved and of the years of toil and effort we had contributed to the Society, myself and the few other League members offered to resign. To the astonishment of the management committee, it was then learned that the resignation of League members was not enough. The objective had now become nothing less than the ruthless destruction of the Society. Another blow was then delivered. Denunciations were issued from the pulpits of the churches in Inchicore and Ballyfermot.
By now three members of the management committee had been prevailed upon to resign. The remaining members decided that an early general meeting was necessary at which the problems besetting the Society could be openly and frankly discussed, and a new committee elected. After some very significant failures to secure a satisfactory hall in the area, a members' meeting was convened in a trade union hall in the city. It had been expected that those who were attacking the Society would welcome the holding of a members' meeting, at which they could either state their case or, if not members themselves, have it put forward for them. Instead, the area was widely canvassed and members were told they should not attend the general meeting. In spite of the boycott, a good number of members did attend. However, there can be little doubt that many members were influenced to stay away from the meeting,
A really hypocritical feature of the affair was the actual presence of some of the inspired leaders of the boycott. From this meeting a new committee was elected, which excluded members of the IWL who declined nomination in order to remove all justification for the introduction of red herrings by those threatening the Society. In spite of these efforts to render the constitution of the management committee acceptable to the clergy, the attack continued and the new committee was also denounced from the pulpits.
As earlier indicated, this campaign produced a goodly crop of lies, slanders, and half-truths. Newspapers like the "Sunday Express", "Sunday Independent", "Sunday Press" and "'Catholic Standard" enlisted in the cause of the great smear. The latter paper indulged in the grossest and vilest distortion. The principal lie was the presentation of the Co-operative Society as a "Communist plot", a "cover" for other activities. Not a scrap of evidence was produced to support this slander. The mere presence of IWL members on the management committee was considered sufficient reason for broadcasting this poison. May I once more repudiate this vicious falsehood.
As a matter of fact I, with others, was associated with the Co-op long before my membership of the IWL, which was not formed for years afterwards. We became members of the management committee because at a certain time the Co-op needed workers urgently and critically who were prepared to sacrifice much time and energy to build and stabilise its future. We, among others, answered that need with only one object - the success of the Co-op. Our efforts and sincerity in this connection have been acknowledged on all sides, including ALL members of the former committee. Another part of the smear technique has been the attempt to present the sale of papers in Ballyfermot as having a sinister connection with the Co-op. The fact is papers like the "IRISH WORKERS' VOICE" are sold all over Dublin and to argue that the inclusion of Ballyfermot involves the Co-op is sheer falsehood. At the time of writing the issue is unresolved. Nevertheless, the truth of the above account is beyond challenge or contradiction.
Finally, it should be understood that such an anti-progressive campaign is an attack not only against the Co-op, but against the most elementary rights of workers to form their own organisations. It is a warning to all trade unionists who take their rights for granted. Not alone does co-operation suffer, but so also does democracy - and religion itself. The only forces to gain will be the vested interests in Ballyfermot and elsewhere.
Last edited by riposte; 11-07-2012 at 10:00 PM.
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.”