Can any one give me any information at all about " Red
Button Men " who I am told worked at the Docks in the
early 1930's as some kind of auxillary security service?
Paddy Kelly - May '08
Sam Jackson should read the first novel Campbell wrote about the Belfast Docks.
It's called 'Corner Kingdom' and really lays bare the corrupt system that prevailed
until decaulisation in the early seventies. Pat.
Sam Jackson - Mar '07
Just read John campbell's book called The Disinherited.
It tells in detail the origin and final days of the red button
men. Great Story. Sam Jackson, ex sailortown resident
Paddy Kelly - Sep '06
Was interested to read Pat's version of the reds. It's close
to the truth. Mel's is rather inaccurate in the fact that
the reds did not work at the Low Docks (Irish Transport).
The were 2nd in preference to the blue button men on the cross-channel
docks. Irish transport dockers had only one preference and
were a completely different outfit being members of the Irish
Transport Union, controlled by Dublin. They were schooled
at the top of Dock Street across Garmoyle Street. They later
moved into a schooling pen on the Pollock dock close to the
ITL cafe. Hope this is of interest.
Pat Ramsay - Aug '06
The red button section on the cross-channel docks of Belfast
came into existence in 1939 when the first preference dockers,
unable to cope with increased shipping at the beginning of
World war11 agreed to just over 200 men being given second
preference. This preference in no way gave them the right
or privilege of a 1st preference button, only of course, if
they were blood relations of the 1st preference men. Some
of the 2nd preference men worked for over twenty years on
the quay and thought they should have the same rights as dockers
sons, brothers, etc. Yet when the 1st preference men opened
the books to bring in new dockers, those not blood related
were turned down. They collected money from their members
and took a court case in 1962 or thereabouts. The two reds
who took the case received compensation, but never worked
again on the quay. The rest of the section was disbanded a
few months after the court case. They could get work on the
quay, but only as outsiders, or !
arabs as the casuals were called. A new book of fiction based
on this dispute and called 'The Disinherited' will be published
shortly by Belfast publishers Lagan Press. The web site is
Mel - May '06
The term red button men referred to dockers who worked at
what was known up until the 60`s as the low dock they handled
mostly timber, potato,and other cargo. The dockers who worked
the passenger boats at the upper end of belfast dock were
known as Blue Button men. These buttons , both red and blue
where once handed down from father to son.