- Publication Date
Ulster Historical Foundation
- Page Count
214mm x 137mm
Irish politics, Politics
When Alexander Bowman was elected in Belfast Corporation as Labour member in Duncairn in 1897, the very idea that he would still be remembered a century later for his relentless championing of the working class cause appeared unthinkable. Yet Bowman, a near penniless flaxdresser from a humble farming background, richly deserves his place in Irish political and labour history.
Twelve years earlier in 1885, following his key role in the birth of organised trade unionism in Belfast, he had been the first working-class Irishman to seek a seat at Westminister. His subsequent support for Gladstone's Home Rule bill and the Dublin parliament which he believed offered the best hope of bringing together Irish people of all persuasions, attracted much criticism. Forced to leave Belfast in 1888, he found himself immersed in the embryonic socialist movements first in Glasgow and then in London.
Returning with new ideas to the Belfast trade union fold in 1895, he won the Corporation seat two years later and in 1901 was elected President of the Irish Trade Union Congress. This biography, by his journalist great-grandson Terence Bowman, pays long-overdue tribute to a labour pioneer who, at great personal cost, dedicated his life sufficiently to the welfare of the working classes to earn their, and now our, respect as a People's Champion.