The period under study in fact extends from the working-class of Northern Ireland’s harsh experience of the Great Depression that followed the 1929 Crash, when former bastions of Protestant ‘privilege’/full employment such as the Harland & Wolff shipyard imposed mass redundancies, up to the failure of Republican Congress in 1935.
However, the chief resentment from the point of view of the combined Catholic/Protestant working class centred around the retention of the 19th Century workhouse system by the Unionist Party government, especially since in ‘mainland’ Britain it had been abolished in 1919. The workhouse was so hated that even in the conditions of direst poverty, workers would rather starve than enter it. So the Unionist government began to place emphasis on the system of ‘Outdoor Relief’, another hangover from the workhouse system whereby the unemployed worker remained at home but, in exchange for a pittance and a commitment to work on exhausting, pointless labour schemes, had to first undergo humiliating means and ‘willingness to work’ tests in front of a board of middle class puritans and ideologues.
From 1929-30 with the Great Depression and its severe impact on Northern Ireland’s already fragile economy, these resentments reached a boiling point that incidentally coincided with the formation of clandestine communist Revolutionary Workers’ Groups (RWGs) in an Irish context, set up as a vehicle by the Comintern to nurture the cadres with which it hoped to establish a future all-Ireland Communist Party.
事实上，这些干部，他们虽然收到了一些帮助和培训就从莫斯科在很大程度上独立经营，与“党的纪律”往往非常难以建立他们。铅北/贝尔法斯特经营者是一个叫汤米吉亨人，前爱尔兰共和军手术谁也被称为一个优秀的公众演讲。他，与来自宗派对立双方其他工人阶级共产党人开始成立于1932年是动员群众性社会运动是围绕关键要求是一段阻挠工会会员建立的最好的尝试夏天的户外救济罢工divide it by playing the old tried and tested ‘Orange Card’.
Then, when the Unionist establishment decided to break the strikers by launching a violent guns-blazing attack by the police and ‘special constabulary’ on the predominantly Catholic Falls Road area alone, within minutes it had backfired spectacularly and ignited a full scale riot not only on the Falls – but also on the predominantly Protestant Shankill Road next door – which in turn quickly spread to all working class districts of Central, West and North Belfast alike and continued for several days without abating.
其结果是，工会会员建立在恐惧和关键让步迅速撤退胜利了，至少在最初阶段，并为已在斗争中已经实现了约一年或更长时间之后的反宗派团结的时期保持稳健和RWGS继续mobilise subsequent actions both north and south of the border, ending in a bitter railway strike of 1933-34 that even involved ‘solidarity actions’ by left-leaning elements of the IRA.
肖恩·米切尔has done a commendable job in raising this event to the profile it deserves, using previously ignored primary sources and the tenets of ‘history from below’ to confound the dominant narratives that try to reduce everything in Northern Ireland down to a sectarian zero-sum game, whether these are Loyalist, Nationalist, or bourgeois establishment. Most compelling of all are the opportunities and possibilities it raises of achieving working class unity in Ireland – so long as no compromises are made with sectarianism or imperialism in the process – a vision that for a brief period, and had historical forces played out differently than they actually did, looked as if it might have come to fruition in the years 1932-35.