The efforts made by combinators to raise their wages when confined to themselves were legitimate, and as long as they kept within the bounds of the law they ought not to be disturbed; but it appeared that they had forgotten the maxims on which they ought to act. They were not entitled to wages out of capital; they were only entitled to them out of profits, and if their employers made no profits the wages must decrease. Wages, which were the price of labour, must depend upon the demand; and when the supply was greater than the demand, the price of labour of course must be lowered. This was the condition of Ireland; there was a great supply of labour, and a small demand for it. Labour was in such quantities that labourers were ready to accept the small wages of sixpence a day. Labour there was so cheap because there was no demand for it. The question, then, in Ireland was, how was the demand to be created? There was but one way of creating the demand. It was only to be created by tempting capitalists to the country, in order that having cheap labour they might have profits from it. The misfortune of Ireland was, that workmen, impatient of their present state of suffering, did not wait for a gradual and progressive improvement, but they endeavoured by monopoly to obtain that which ought to arise from the competition of employers. The workmen of the city of Dublin (for his attention was directed to Ireland) sought a remedy in monopoly. They had endeavoured to narrow the supply, in order that the demand might be kept up and the amount of the wages preserved. The demand did not equal the quantity of labour in the market. The combination had for its object to close the market of labour; it sought to keep persons from entering into a competition in the market of labour, and to raise the wages by diminishing the supply. The monopoly was almost complete in Dublin. There was nothing to equal the regulations and the arrangements for keeping up that monopoly. The right hon. Gentleman had well said, that there was no tyranny equal to that which was exercised by such persons over their fellow-labourers who endeavoured to carry their own labour into the market. He had wished to show those persons the folly of their course, as well as its illegality and wickedness. He had wished to show them the evils and the defects of their monopoly.From Irish Trade Unions and Politics, Rachel O'Higgins, The Historical Journal 1961:
By 1837 it had become apparent that the 'idol of organised labour' was hostile to trade unionism. Although a radical by inclination, O'Connell distrusted profoundly political and economic organizations among the lower classes of any magnitude since they appeared to him to threaten the 'groundworks of the social state-the protection of property and the institutions of the country'. In 1837 he attacked the strike of the Glasgow cotton spinners and later the same year outraged many of his warmest supporters among the Dublin trades by attacking the system of combination. At a meeting of the Trades Political Union in November 1837 he condemned all forms of combination and declared that 'the vengeance of an outraged God, and the severe but just punishment of the law, will not fail to overtake their abominable crimes '. He warned the Irish tradesmen against 'the childish folly of regulating the labour of adults... which would end by converting their manufacturers into beggars '. The following February, in the House of Commons, O'Connell denounced Irish trade unionism. 'By a clever analysis of the rules of the Irish societies', wrote Sidney and Beatrice Webb, 'O'Connell condemned in a speech of great power all attempts on the part of the trade combinations to regulate the conditions of labour '.