History of forgotten strike of unemployed workers to be launched in Nerve Centre

The Nerve Centre, Derry. (3003JM69)
The Nerve Centre, Derry. (3003JM69)

A new book recounting an historic 1932 strike by unemployed workers in Belfast will be launched in the Nerve Centre at 7pm on Tuesday, August 4.

Seán Mitchell, the author of ‘Struggle or Starve,’ which details the 1932 ‘Outdoor Relief Riots,’ will be in attendance for the launch.

The book tells the story of how unemployed workers and, indeed, whole working-class communities, took to the streets to demand better unemployment support and conditions.

What became knows as the ‘Outdoor Relief Riots’ broke out when police tried to disperse the strikers in October 1932.

Veteran journalist and socialist Eamonn McCann, who will introduce the launch on Tuesday, said: ”What happened in Belfast in 1932 contradicts just about everything conventional history tells us about relations between Catholics and Protestants in the North.

“Only a decade into the existence of the new State, the plain people of the Shankill and the Falls linked arms to fight on picket lines and in the streets for common working-class interests.

“The events have either been written out of history or sentimentalised so as to drain them of all political relevance.”

Fillm director Ken Loach has said of the book: “This is an important story to tell, part of our lost history. It shows that the interests workers share far outweigh the artificial divisions of sectarianism.

“It is brilliant that Seán Mitchell has brought these great events backs to life. It will be an inspiration to unite again in today’s struggles.”