A bespoke memorial plaque in honour of the Newry Dock Strike and lockout of 1907 and the man who led it, James Fearon, was unveiled by Newry and District Trade Union Council and the Newry Maritime Association on 30 March 2015.
Written information about the strike on the plaque, which is located on Merchants Quay, is accompanied by a photograph of Fearon and Newry dockers as well as a starving family and bread and roses on the plinth.
The strike started on 19 November 1907 when Newry dockers, who were members of the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL), one of Unite’s predecessor unions, supported striking Belfast dockers by refusing to unload ships diverted from Belfast. Newry dockers had become organised after James Fearon had accompanied James Larkin when he returned from Britain in 1905.
Despite hostility from local and regional employers, politicians, the church and press the strikers showed great resolve as they pressed to improve wages and working conditions. Poverty ultimately brought down the strike on 30 December when those who returned to work had to agree not to belong to the NUDL, whilst those who remained members were victimised and unable to find em-ployment and feed their families.
Fearon was later forced to enter the local workhouse and in 1912 he left to move to Scotland where he continued to play a part in the trade union movement up until his death in 1924. A short book on Fearon’s life was published in 2000: The Third James(*), James Fearon, 1874-1924, An unsung hero of our struggle. This was written by Bill McCamley. Rebel Road is hoping to make this available in due course.
C Patton also wrote his dissertation, titled, The Newry Dock Strike 1907, and, again, Rebel Road hopes to make this freely available in due course.
Many thanks for the information that appears here to Ronan Turley, a Unite rep in Warrenpoint and who is a delegate from his branch to Newry Trades Union Council. “I was really pleased when it proved possible to get the plaque designed and unveiled. It should encourage people to find out more about this important labour movement event,” said Ronan.
* This is a reference to James Connolly and James Larkin.