Liberty Hall theatre was alive with debate and song for the Robert Tressell Festival which was held on 11th May. A daylong event of debate, drama and music to celebrate the Dublin born author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell, the festival was attended by Irish, UK and American trade unionists.

Delivering the Annual Robert Tressell Festival lecture, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, said: “This Festival allows us to celebrate all that we have achieved together in the long and difficult struggle for workers’ rights in this country and across the globe as we continue to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer unfair and discriminatory work practices around the world.

He added: “I was aware from a young age of the power of a union, of which Billy Bragg would later sing, of unions’ important role in history and their continuing role in delivering transformative societal change, including in our current circumstances.”

“Membership of a trade union has secured and protected the irreducible right to dignity in the workplace and in our society, ever more important in changing economic conditions globally and locally. History tells us that the best outcomes for workers, their defence and their prospects, continue to be best achieved by being a trade union member.”

Opening the day, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley (pictured above), said: “The recently launched Respect at Work campaign brings together my union SIPTU with our colleagues in the Financial Services Union, Communication Workers Union and Mandate to demand change, to bring Ireland into the European mainstream where the right to collectively bargain with an employer is promoted.”

She also highlighted the ongoing assault on Gaza, saying: “Today we will enjoy a spirited celebration of our culture, tradition and solidarity, but it will take place under the dark cloud of the complicity of many employers and Governments with a genocide that is occurring within the full view of the world. We as organised labour must do all we can to call a halt to such savagery.”

Among the others who addressed the Festival were RMT leader Mick Lynch, Amazon Labour Union founder, Chris Smalls (pictured below), Jeremy Corbyn MP and the evening event was hosted by historian Liz Gillis.



Pictured at the top: President of Ireland Michael D Higgins giving the keynote address at the Robert Tressell Festival in Liberty Hall on 11th May. Podcast available here. 

For more information on the festival click here.