£50,000 wanted for Liverpool statue of Big Jim Larkin

50K wanted Liverpool statue Big Jim Larkin
Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

The James Larkin Society has launched a fundraising campaign to erect a life-size statue of the Trade Unionist and Socialist leader in Liverpool city centre.

The society, who have set up a Justgiving page, to help them reach their £50k target to build a statue similar to one of Mr Larkin which currently stands in O’Connell Street in Dublin.

The society, who are appealing for contributions to help them reach their target, say the statue with serve as a “permanent reminder to one man’s fight against poverty, inequality and injustice”.

“For the last century the bond between the Dublin and my city of Liverpool has been unbreakable – Liverpool is twinned with Dublin,” said Barry O’Hara of the James Larkin Society.

“Through the great famine, the Dublin lock out, the Easter Rising and the war of independence, our cities have been united.

“We [the James Larkin Society] intend to strengthen our bond further by campaigning for a statue of Jim Larkin to be built similar to the one in O’Connell Street and located here in the city of Liverpool.”

Born in 1888 in the dockland area of Liverpool to Irish parents, Larkin’s first-hand experience of working on the docks, and witnessing the harsh conditions faced by the workers, led to him becoming a lifelong Socialist and Trade Unionist. He became a full-time union officer for the National Dock Labours Union, and was involved in the struggle to unionise and organise in England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1906, Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, the Irish Labour Party and later the Workers Union of Ireland. The ‘Great Dublin’ lockout of 1913 saw Larkin becoming a major figure in this dispute and his role was revealed in the novel ‘Strumpet City’ and the TV series, of the same name, his character being played by Peter O’- Toole.

As an Internationalist Larkin travelled to the United States to involve himself and support the ideals of the IWW (Wobblies), and gave the eulogy of the prominent Wobbly, Joe Hill. While in the US he was sentenced to 35 years in Sing Sing Prison on the charge of sedition.

During his time in prison he received a visit of support from Charlie Chaplin. On his release, he was expelled from the US by J Edgar Hoover. George Bernard Shaw described Larkin was “a man of genius, of splendid vitality, great in his conceptions, magnificent in his courage, while James Connolly called him “the greatest Irishman since Parnell”.

The James Larkin Society was formed in 2002 to support local community groups and, trade union and grass root causes and campaigns. They have affiliations in New York, Dublin, Belfast and Sydney.

To donate go to Justgiving

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