The Labour PARTY returned to its roots in Clonmel on Sunday afternoon up to 400 public representatives and activists from all over the country attending the celebration to mark the party’s foundation in the town 100 years ago.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, former leader Dick Spring, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin were among the senior party figures at the event in Hotel Minella.
They were commemorating the occasion in May 1912 when trade unionists from all over the country gathered at their annual conference in Clonmel and passed a motion to establish a political wing that became the Labour Party. The motion was proposed by 1916 leader James Connolly and supported by James Larkin and William O’Brien.
The history of the party’s establishment and its role in Irish politics over the past century were recounted in detail by former party leader Dick Spring in his address to the assembled Labour members at the centenary celebration.
Eamon Gilmore also addressed the party faithful at the event and centenary pins were presented to Labour councillors from around the country.
Welcoming speeches were given by Co. Tipperary’s senior Labour figures MEP Phil Prendergast, Minister of State Alan Kelly and Senator Denis Landy.
Senator Prendergast said it was an occasion to celebrate the party’s history with the party’s long standing members who were its “life blood”.
“There is over 1000 years of Labour representation in the function room today. That is from a party that is only 100 years old,” she said.
She said she was particularly delighted to see people like Patricia O’Sullivan, who was Clonmel’s first lady mayor, at the event.
Patricia (nee Keeley) from Poulboy, Clonmel, was co-opted onto Clonmel Corporation at the tender age of 19 and served as the town’s mayor in 1975/76.
During her eight years on Clonmel Corporation, she served alongside Labour councillors Billy Byrne, Sean Lyons and Tom Carroll.
She said she was delighted to be at the centenary celebration and sad that the late Billy Byrne, who died last year, wasn’t there to enjoy it with her. “The one thing he wanted was to be at these celebrations. I came here today to specifically think about him really,” she said.