• William K. Roche
  • Joe Larragy
  • Jacqueline Ashmore
Part of the The Societies of Europe book series (SOEU)


The Irish union movement shared the same legacy as the British. After Independence in 1922, the Irish union confederation continued to represent Irish- and British-based unions, and continued to represent unions in Northern Ireland, which remained part of the United Kingdom. Tensions within the confederation between Irish- and British-based unions led to a schism in 1945, yet both movements reunited in 1959 and since then the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has become the dominant peak association of labour, assuming an increasingly important role. The late and uneven industrialization and entrenched craft tradition contributed to conflict and tensions between general and craft unionism. The two rival general unions that constitute a large share of union members were significant players in the political schism and later in the newly united confederation; they finally merged in 1990. Although some unions support the Irish Labour Party, the Irish unions have not tied their fate to a political party in government. Irish unions have profited from the legal and political context from which they emerged. After Ireland’s independence, the voluntarist tradition in labour relations remained dominant, though state interventionist and corporatist periods, such as the 1940s and 1970s, altered the character of labour relations in Ireland. Central bargaining had been more prominent than in Britain before the 1980s, when a short interlude of decentralization began. Since 1987, tripartite social concertation has given central wage moderation and economic and social policy co-ordination a new base.


Labour Relation Union Member Industrial Relation Union Density Labour Force Survey 
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Copyright information

© Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Jelle Visser 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • William K. Roche
  • Joe Larragy
  • Jacqueline Ashmore

There are no affiliations available

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