DOC on anti war marche in Dublin

John O'Neill johnfergaloneill at
Mon Feb 17 20:06:03 MST 2003

I saw some of the comments on indymedia ie and I have to agree that it
appears the comments on the SF participation seem to me to be sour grapes,
fair play as the SF contingant was impressive. If anyone has access to
monday's Irish Times there is a fantastic photo (page 8) of the
demonstration streching the whole of O'Connell Street (both sides) and if
you look closely you will see the ISN banner amongst the various groups
which particularly pleased me as we only have a handful of activists. I
missed Domhnall simply because I was not there! Unfortunately, I had made
arrangements to spend the weekend in Drogheda before the Demo date was
announced and couldn't reschedule. I spent most of the day trying to see the
TV coverage. The Belfast demo certainly looked well attended with media
reports of 25,000 participating. RTE showed a clip of Eamon McCann (SWP)
finishing his speech with "Belfast says No" which I enjoyed to no end.

Now that the Anti War Movement is a mass organisation in Ireland I feel it
is extremly important to ensure that it's direction is influenced by all the
players involved. I think it would be benificial for Sinn Fein and the
Labour Party to send reps to the IWAM steering group as it presently is
controlled largely by the SWP. I made this point at a recent meeting and
there was alot of opposition to my proposal. I'm not knocking the SWP, as
they have made a valuable contribution to getting the IWAM to where it is
today but it is structured and controlled by them and needs to expand. I
argued that every area should establish local groups who could appoint
regional representatives and in turn these representatives would constitute
the national leadership of the IWAM. This was fiercly opposed by the SWP and
the meeting made no decision on the proposal. I question their willingness
to commit to a representative broad coalition of forces opposed to the war
and their organisational abilities. I have attended steering group meetings
and there is no structure whatsoever to them.  Personally, I believe the SWP
(going on past experience) will use the IWAM to build their own organisation
and there is nothing wrong with that per se but their methods tend to be
counter productive insofar as they turn people off.

This movement could be a real opportunity to politicise large sections of
the working class and middle class. I was at an anti bin charges meeting
tonight in Finglas attended by  about 60 people and many of them speaking
from the floor were calling for a national protest against the charges. I'm
not saying that that issue would attract such a crowd but its been many
years since I have heard local people welcome such suggestions, usually
politico's would propose a protest and it would be greeted with groans from
the general public. We could see a flourish of activism and popular
demonstrations on a number of issues, as the elected representives in
parliament seem to be out of touch with large sections of society, which can
only be good for the Left.

I also believe that the involvement of the Labour Party in the IWAM could be
important should a second UN resolution be passed as it will create tensions
between those opposed to the war under any circumstances and those merely
against the War without UN sanction. From talking to a few Labour Party
members, I believe that many are against the war entirely, if they can put
pressure on the Leadership is another matter but at the very least some will
remain in the anti war movement despite what the leadership decide and maybe
some will leave in disgust seeking a more radical left grouping.

The demo in Dublin also will test the FF/PD Government. Traditionally,
Fianna Fail has always been essentially a right-wing populist party and
already I have heard they are back tracking to a UN line from the position
of supporting the US going it alone. Interestingly, the media seems now to
be trying to scaremonger on the economic implications of Ireland opposing
the US position arguing that it will damage US investment. As for what do we
do next, IMO we should end the Shannon connection with the US war machine,
maybe a protest against companies involved in production of components for
the US military in Ireland and continous pressure on the FF/PD government to
protect Irish Neutrality.

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