Jack was an unemployed worker who won a Dáil seat in 1957. He was elected as an Independent in Dublin South Central.
Jack’s story is indicative of the elitism within Irish politics. Not a member of the old boy’s school he was treated with disdain and disrespect by members of the Oireachtas. His maiden speech was greeted with sniggers and sneers from the professional politicians in the Dáil. He was regarded with suspicion and found it impossible to get answers to very basic questions. The elitist political parties strategically ignored his questions and shouted him down when he attempted to raise important issues.
The old boy’s club were unimpressed at the idea of an elected working class man in their territory. The whole experience was one of despair for Jack who said, “I found that Leinster House was more a centre of party political activity and useless talk than a place where plans could be made to ease the lot of the unfortunate.”
Eventually another member of the club and ally of the politician, the Catholic Church got involved. Archbishop John Charles McQuaid joined the campaign to pressurize Murphy. McQuaid warned Murphy to end his association with the Unemployed Protest Committe, telling him that they were communists. After 15 months Jack submitted his resignation saying that “I was fed up with the callous indifference of the big parties to the situation of the workers.”
The reality was that politicians represented the wealthy and vested interest groups and they circled like sharks when Murphy had the gall to be democratically elected. If anything, his election represented the discontent ordinary people felt with the Labour Party of that time.
At least we’re not like that anymore in 2013…