RED HAND OF ULSTER

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Frank Quinn’s Tyrone jacket with the Red Hand logo

I began the New Year sporting the Red Hand of Tyrone on a borrowed jacket, the property of Frank Quinn in Glenmalure. So I was fascinated to read the following history of the symbol of Ulster in An Irishman’s Diary written by Frank McNally, part of which is reproduced here:

“The question of which foot you use while digging has in Ireland long had a significance that goes beyond matters of horticulture. But during a visit to Belfast recently, I was struck by the contrasting neutrality, in political symbolism, of the hand.”

ULSTERLOGO

Red Hand in the Ulster Rugby logo

“I’m thinking mainly of the Red Hand, that ubiquitous symbol of Ulster. Unlike most emblems, it straddles the political and sectarian divide.  And on both sides, it’s usually the right hand (dexter) that’s depicted, although there are quite a few left hands scattered around Belfast on coats of arms and other insignia, with apparently equal indifference.

This is all the more surprising given that there are two competing explanations for the symbol’s origins. One is religious, referring to the hand of God (His right, invariably), a meaning mentioned in Milton’s Paradise Lost and a Nick Cave song, Red Right Hand, among other places.

The alternative is the prehistorical myth of the Iberian invaders, promised Ulster as the prize in a boat race. The first to touch it would win, so within sight of the finish, the most committed of the trio chopped his hand off and threw it ashore, a result that withstood the subsequent stewards’ inquiry.

By the law of averages (and most versions of the story), however, it was the invader’s right hand that did the chopping, and therefore his left that claimed the reward. Maybe that explains some of the left-hand versions in Belfast.  But then again, as far as I can see, loyalist murals, just like GAA insignia, tend to go with with the right.

Not that the Red Hand is entirely the property of Ulster. It used to symbolise Ireland in general. And again, this could be ambidextrous. You see lefty versions on, for example, old cap badges of the Irish Citizen Army. But I suppose there is a certain logic in that.

The foot question has its contradictions too. In the South, it is Protestants who are (or were) said to the dig with the left. In the North, the same claim was made of Catholics.  The point in both cases was that they were the minority.  Whichever foot they dug with it, it was the “wrong” one.

MidUlster

Red Hand in Mid Ulster Council logo

One the other other hand (no pun intended), that great student of Ireland’s idiosyncrasies, (QUB Professor) E. Estyn Evans, once went into the subject in meticulous detail and found a depth of meaning in it that few who used the phrase could have suspected.

In his 1957 book, Irish Folk Ways, he wrote that most diggers in Ireland used the right foot – a habit reinforced by the traditional one-sided Irish spade, or “loy”, which unlike the English version, didn’t offer a choice.

But he added that, “in eastern Ireland, and particularly the Protestant districts of the north-east, the left foot is normally the digging-foot […] though the old Irish stocks continue to dig with the right”. In general, he marvelled at the “astonishing variety” of spades here, as witnessed by a Tyrone factory that specialised in the product. Its “spade gauge book”, he reported, had 230 different patterns.

The Tyrone factory had recently closed, he noted.  And I suspect that the complexity of Irish spade technology had peaked by then. Even so, anyone who still thinks that “calling a spade a spade” is synonymous with verbal simplicity should read Irish Folk Ways.  For me, at least, it sheds new light on Seamus Heaney’s famous decision, circa 1966, to dig with a pen.”

REDHAND

Red Hand (dexter version)

The left hand version (sinister) of the symbol has been used by the Irish National Foresters, the Irish Citizen Army and the Federated Workers Union of Ireland, subsequently SIPTU.

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BOSE REDUNDANCY DEAL

boselogoUnion members at the Bose factory in Carrickmacross, due to be closed at the end of May with the loss of 140 jobs, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of redundancy proposals negotiated by their representatives. SIPTU Industrial Organiser Jim Mc Veigh welcomed the result of the ballot.

SIPTU Industrial Organiser Jim McVeigh   Photo: © Michael Fisher

SIPTU Industrial Organiser Jim McVeigh Photo: © Michael Fisher

He said: “We negotiated what we considered to be a fair and reasonable redundancy package. We recommended the proposals to our members and they have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the package. SIPTU will be continuing discussions with the company, the government and the IDA, to try to ensure that alternative investment might be found for the Bose site”.

It was announced without warning a month ago that the plant was to be shut down. The original closure date was April but following talks with union representatives and local politicians an extension of several weeks was given.

The situation was discussed by councillors at this week’s meeting of the Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District. Councillor Padraig McNally who is also Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council said the atmosphere at the plant was not great and the relationship with the US headquarters was strained. The last thing they wanted was for the plant to be closed and for the people involved not to know where their future lay, he said.

Bose factory, Carrickmacross  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Bose factory, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

Councillor Colm Carthy a former Bose employee said the closure extension was not a great outcome, but it gave the employees a little bit of extra time to come to terms with the situation. He said the MEP Matt Carthy had been in touch with the Chief Executive of the IDA in Dublin asking him to give top priority to replacing the facility in Carrick as they needed to get more investment in the town.

Councillor Noel Keelan said he had been in continuing contact with the employees and was anxious that they should get their entitlements. They now needed to bring into the town some form of alternative employment.

The Cathaoirleach Jackie Crowe agreed that they needed to get someone in as quickly as possible to create the same number of jobs.

Councillor PJ O’Hanlon said it was his firm belief that when the IDA brought a factory into a town, the premises should never go into private ownership. With the site at Bose there was now going to be a commercial landlord looking for rent from a future tenant. This almost amounted to a “sharp practice” by the IDA, in his view, whereas the IDA, he felt, should be looking after such factory premises for any company that occupied it. He proposed a motion, seconded by Cllr McNally, “that this District Council calls on the Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton, and the IDA, and Enterprise Ireland, that any new factories that are opened are not sold to private or commercial groups but are kept in ownership of the state agencies”. The motion was adopted unanimously and it was agreed to circulate it to all county councils in the state.

BOSE TALKS

Marian Harkin MEP meets SIPTU and Bose workers in Carrickmacross  Photo:  SIPTU

Marian Harkin MEP meets SIPTU and Bose workers in Carrickmacross Photo: SIPTU

Workers from the Bose factory which the company has announced will be closed by June have held a meeting held in Carrickmacross with the Independent MEP Marian Harkin. They were accompanied by the SIPTU Industrial Organiser Jim McVeigh. Monaghan Councillor Paudge Connolly also attended the discussions, which explored whether the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) could be activated for the 140 workers due to lose their jobs.

Marian Harkin said afterwards the Fund could be used for retraining or increasing skills, or for workers who might like to set up their own business. In certain cases subsidies could be paid to local employers who would take on redundant Bose workers for a guaranteed period of time. The MEP is the author of the regulation for the Fund that is available for redundant workers across the EU. This Fund can be applied for wherever jobs are lost due to globalisation and the impact of the redundancies on the local area is significant. The fund is also available to any other workers who lose jobs that are involved in supplying the Bose factory or in transport, haulage, or related services, or any workers whose employment is dependent on the Bose factory.

Marian Harkin MEP  Photo: European Parliament

Marian Harkin MEP Photo: European Parliament

There is also an opportunity to apply to the Fund for an equal number of young people from the region who are not in employment, education or training. This means that up to 300 people might be able to avail of the Fund. Marian Harkin said the Fund might provide opportunities for workers made redundant and while it was only a start, it could at least be a stepping stone to future employment.

A public meeting is going to be organised in Carrick in the next few weeks for all the workers and members of the public who are interested. Details will be made available within the next few days. The MEP said she had worked with many other groups of workers who had accessed the Globalisation Fund, such as DELL workers and the Waterford Crystal workers. “ I would be more than happy to assist Bose workers in any application they might make for the Fund and its rollout”, Marian Harkin concluded.

BOSE FACTORY TALKS

Bose factory, Carrickmacross  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Bose factory, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

Union representatives and local politicians have welcomed the decision by the US-based management of Bose to extend the operation of the Carrickmacross plant until June. SIPTU Industrial Organiser Jim McVeigh met the Human Relations Director Barry Weaver in Carrick a week ago and is due to hold more discussions with him tomorrow (Thursday). It was agreed that the closure announced on January 22nd would be postponed beyond April, while talks continued on acceptable redundancy terms and other issues. Mr Weaver also met the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D. in Dublin along with Pat McAdam of Bose Carrickmacross.

Sean Conlan T.D. Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sean Conlan T.D. Photo: © Michael Fisher

Fine Gael T.D. Sean Conlan said since the closure announcement was made he had lobbied both Mr Bruton and the IDA to ensure everything within their power would be done to save the 140 jobs. Following this representation Mr Bruton  agreed to meet a delegation of Bose workers, the IDA and a SIPTU representative in Carrickmacross last Friday. A very constructive meeting took place with all involved and they discussed the future prospects of the Bose workers along with the need to ensure that
redundancy packages acceptable to the workers are put in place.

Deputy Conlan said the Bose plant was a state of the art plant and very well placed geographically given its close proximity to Dublin airport and the port. He said it was of the utmost importance the Industrial Development Authority used every resource available to market this plant globally in the best possible way in an effort to attract a new employer, and he was hopeful one would be found.  The IDA who were represented by Emmanuel Dowdall confirmed that their eighteen overseas offices were looking for an alternative employer.

SIPTU Industrial Organiser Jim McVeigh   Photo: © Michael Fisher

SIPTU Industrial Organiser Jim McVeigh Photo: © Michael Fisher

Jim McVeigh of SIPTU said the focus was on asking the IDA to try to attract other investors and to ensure alternative employment for the Bose workforce. Mr Mc Veigh added: “We welcome the agreement by the company to delay the proposed closure while other opportunities are examined by all of those concerned including the Minister and the agencies responsible for finding alternative employment. The closure of this plant, in Carrickmacross since 1978, is devastating for our members, a dedicated and skilled workforce, and for the town and surrounding areas in county Monaghan”.

BOSE BLOW STUNS CARRICK

Northern Standard  Thursday 28th January 2015   Story by Michael Fisher  © Northern Standard

Northern Standard Thursday 28th January 2015 Story by Michael Fisher © Northern Standard

Having contributed the lead story in today’s Northern Standard Thursday 29th January about the suddenly announced the closure of the Bose factory, I also filled three pages with Carrickmacross News.

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I also contributed two stories featuring Bishop MacDaid of Clogher.

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I enjoyed dipping into the archives to be shown the copy of the paper in October 1978 in which the official opening of the Bose factory was featured. It was carried out by my former Latin teacher (1967-69) the late John Wilson TD, then Minister for Education. The plant was blessed by Archdeacon Morris of Carrickmacross. Two TDs at the time Dr Rory O’ Hanlon and Jimmy Leonard are now retired.

The Minister for Education, Mr. John Wilson, T.D., cuts the tape to officially open the new Bose factory at Carrickmacross. Pictured along with top management are Monsignor Morris, Archdeacon, Carrickmacross (third from left) and Mr. Stanley. A. Hendryx, Managing Director (extreme right)

The Minister for Education, Mr. John Wilson, T.D., cuts the tape to officially open the new Bose factory at Carrickmacross. Pictured along with top management are Monsignor Morris, Archdeacon, Carrickmacross (third from left) and Mr. Stanley. A. Hendryx, Managing Director (extreme right)  Photo: © Northern Standard

 

The 150 guests were taken on a tour of the factory, “prior to a sumptuous reception and luncheon at Hotel Nuremore, Carrickmacross”.

A section of the crowd who attended the official opening of the new Bose Ireland factory at Carrickmacross last Friday. Included in the picture are Dr. Rory O'Hanlon, T.D.; Deputy J. Leonard, T.D.; Mr. T.J. Finlay, Chairman of Carrickmacross U.D.C., and Mr. P. McEneaney, M.C.C., Carrickmacross  Photo:  © Northern Standard

A section of the crowd who attended the official opening of the new Bose Ireland factory at Carrickmacross last Friday. Included in the picture are Dr. Rory O’Hanlon, T.D.; Deputy J. Leonard, T.D.; Mr. T.J. Finlay, Chairman of Carrickmacross U.D.C., and Mr. P. McEneaney, M.C.C., Carrickmacross   Photo: © Northern Standard

 

BOSE TO CLOSE CARRICKMACROSS PLANT

Bose factory, Carrickmacross  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Bose factory, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

Union representatives will meet management at the BOSE audio systems plant in Carrickmacross  next week, after the multinational suddenly announced it is to close the plant in April, with the loss of 140 jobs. The company has been manufacturing audio products in Monaghan since 1978 but will wind down operations within three months. In a statement on Thursday evening, the US-based business said it would be consolidating its wholly-owned manufacturing operations, closing its facilities in Columbia (South Carolina, USA), and Carrickmacross, Ireland, in order to streamline the company’s global supply chain. boselogo

BOSE which has its headquarters at Framingham in Massachusetts was founded by a college Professor and classical music enthusiast Dr Amar Bose in 1964. Before he died in 2013, Dr. Bose donated a majority stake in his company to MIT, the Boston school where he earned three degrees in electrical engineering and taught a course in acoustics. The company employs around 10,500 people internationally and has sales of $3.3 billion.

Carrickmacross provides final assembly for select home theatre systems and radios for the European market, as well as some remanufacturing for the region. The Irish operation is due to transfer to BOSE facilities in Malaysia and Mexico. Boseheadphone

BOSE executive Vice-President of global operations and corporate development engineering, Bryan Fontaine, said the move came to keep pace with demand from customers and resellers. He said the company’s rapid global growth required them to keep pace with their customers, dealers, distributors, resellers and stores and to serve them as efficiently as possible. These were difficult decisions because they impacted on their very capable teams in Ireland and South Carolina, he said, and he went on to thank the local communities including Carrickmacross for their years of support.

siptuSIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser Jim McVeigh said the workers were told today by management that the plant was to close in the coming weeks. This came as a complete bolt out of the blue for the workers. It is devastating news for staff, their families and the wider community, he said. Workers have been given a day off today (Friday). Mr McVeigh said he intended to meet the workers and management of the plant on Monday afternoon to discuss what could be done to save their jobs. On Monday evening SIPTU representatives will brief local politicians on the situation and enlist their support in the union’s efforts to save the jobs. He added: “the vast majority of the workforce lives in Monaghan and the plant closure will have a very significant negative impact on the local economy. There are over 140 people employed at this plant and SIPTU is committed to doing everything possible to protect their interests.”

Sean Conlan TD  Photo: FG

Sean Conlan TD Photo: FG

Cavan/Monaghan Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan said he was very sad to hear of the closure of the BOSE plant in Carrickmacross owing to their global restructuring plan.

“The loss of jobs at Bose, which has been a major employer in South Monaghan for many years, is very upsetting for employees and their families, and the fact that this closure is due to take place so soon adds further stress. I have contacted the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, to ask that his department coordinates with the IDA in the hope of extending the notice period.”

“It is important now that alternative employment is found for those who have been left out of work due to today’s decision. I can confirm that the IDA is currently contacting their network of offices worldwide to try to find a suitable company to invest in the region and take on this highly skilled workforce. All the supports of the State will be made available to all of the workers affected by this situation”, said Mr Conlan.

Matt Carthy MEP  Photo: SF

Matt Carthy MEP Photo: SF

Midlands North West Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy, who is from Carrickmacross, said: “I know many of the 140 full time BOSE staff personally and I am absolutely devastated to hear of the planned closure of this manufacturing plant in Carrickmacross. The plant is a well established local employer and the announcement today will cause widespread disbelief. Today’s announcement is not just a harsh blow to the staff and their families but to the wider community and local economy, which will be severely impacted by the closure of the plant.”

“Unfortunately, this area has been ignored by too long by successive Governments. I recently highlighted the fact that Monaghan has only has two visits by the IDA in the past 5 years and many will remember that Bose was the last significant employer attracted to this region by the IDA in the late 70s. I am calling on Minister Bruton to immediately engage with the senior management at the plant and attempt to preserve these jobs.”

Full report in next week’s Northern Standard.

 

COMMEMORATION OF 1913 LOCKOUT

SIPTU President Jack O'Connor at Jim Larkin statue Photo: © Michael Fisher (NUJ)

SIPTU President Jack O’Connor at Jim Larkin statue Photo: © Michael Fisher (NUJ)

Thousands of people gathered in Dublin’s O’Connell Street yesterday (Saturday 31st August) to commemorate the 1913 Lockout in which an estimated 20,000 workers had been involved. President Higgins laid  a wreath at the Jim Larkin statue after a salute by the Army No 1 band. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore attended along with Ministers Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbite, Jimmy Deenihan and Minister of State Joe Costello. Trade unionists were led by ICTU General Secretary David Begg and included SIPTU President Jack O’Connor (the successor of the ITGWU, founded by Larkin).

In traditional costumes and dress people recreated scenes from the 100-year old events, chanting “Down with Murphy, up with Larkin” while DMP police stood by. Readings from the novel Strumpet City were performed by by Bryan Murray and Angela Harding and an excerpt from the play “Lockout 1913”,  set on top of a tram placed in front of the GPO.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn welcomed everyone to the event saying it was about paying tribute to “thousand of working men and women who took part in this campaign to achieve decent treatment and fairness of work”. Hundreds of people dressed in period costumes as dockers, some as Jacobs workers and others as the poor of Dublin. This part of the event was organised by the North Inner City Heritage Group with Dublin Council of Trade Unions. The President remained as a spectator for a dramatisation of Larkin’s famous speech from a hotel window off O’Connell Street, his subsequent arrest and the riot that led to a police baton charge resulting in more than 300 injuries.

Joe Costello TD, Minister for Trade & Development at Jim Larkin statue Photo: © Michael Fisher (NUJ)

Joe Costello TD, Minister for Trade & Development at Jim Larkin statue Photo: © Michael Fisher (NUJ)