On Saturday 17 March two American labour groups, the Irish-American Labor Coalition and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, made an investment of $10,000 each towards the forthcoming film Connolly, to be produced by Rascal Productions. At an evening reception Dan Kane Senior, recently elected to the National Executive of the Teamsters, announced that his union was making a donation of $10,000. “We want to do all we can to help bring this film to the screen. For example, the success of The Wind That Shakes the Barley shows that the film-going public is hungry for passionate, truthful films about the Irish struggle.
“James Connolly belongs to the world labour movement. He organised workers in the US, in Scotland, and in Ireland—among both traditions. In America he organised transport workers. He was a working-class hero, a larger-than-life figure. His life can inspire young people. It’s time the wider world, not just union people and not just Irish people, knew about him.”
At its yearly St Patrick’s Day breakfast, Joe Jamison, president of the Irish-American Labor Coalition, declared: “This sum is only a drop in the bucket compared with actual funding needs. We are following the lead of Irish trade unions. In Ireland, SIPTU, the CWU and others have already pledged large amounts. We hope our modest gesture can encourage, firstly, more trade union subscriptions, secondly, the support of the Irish Film Board, and thirdly, independent film private investors.”
This is only the latest effort by the IALC to promote the legacy of James Connolly among the Irish-American community and the American public. It marches behind the Connolly banner each year in the country’s largest St Patrick’s Day parade. It has organised Connolly commemorations. It has helped to build two monuments to Connolly, one outside Liberty Hall in Dublin and one in Troy, New York, where he lived and worked early in the last century.
Visiting trade unionists from Ireland and Britain, including such unions as SIPTU, Amicus, Impact, RMT, and Irish teachers’ unions, were present at the two events. They also pledged to redouble efforts to build support for the film.
The screenplay, the casting and much of the other planning for Connolly have already been completed. Financing is now the last hurdle. More information about the film project and how unions can support it can be obtained at http://www.rascal-films.com.
This first appeared in the April issue of Socialist Voice, Dublin.