Sinn Fein and the Labour Party bow to media hysteria.

D OC donaloc at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 3 04:47:33 MST 2003


>Grassroots Gathering, an anarchist umbrella group (membership 30 to 50)
>announced plans to organise some direct action for todays protest in
Shannon. (see http://www.indymedia.ie/cgi-bin/newswire.cgi?id=30422 for
details) The Irish Media saw this as an opportunity to create division
within the Anti War Movement and have run articles daily to scare people
into believing that people were planning an act of Terrorism in for the
shannon protest.

I think advertising their proposed activities in advance was more than a
little stupid.

>The response of Sinn Fein and the Labour Party has been to ask their
>members to STAY AWAY from the demonstration! I don't think anyone was too
>surprised about the LP's decision but Sinn Fein's was a shock to many on
>the Left. Is this what we are to expect from the new squeaky clean SF
>striving for middle class respectability?

In short, I think that we might have over-reacted to the issue and was
pretty perplexed initially. I'm not sure exactly why the decision was taken
yet. However, most comments I've read on Indymedia seem to be very mixed on
the event anyway - so few turned up at the demonstration (around 1,200 by
all reports - only 350 were in the GNAW demo) that I think it will
necessitate a rethink on the behalf of those who are proposing such action.
As you might imagine, republicans are not against the use of non-political
means to achieve goals - however, any such actions must be seen within the
context of the wider political picture (i.e. strategically or tactically).
The argument put forward by those largely anarchists of GG or GNAW is that
such actions are the only things which focus popular attention on the US in
Shannon. While I have a great deal of sympathy with these remarks, it now
appears to be the case that such actions are now deeply counter-productive.
They have effectively opened massive splits all over the antiwar movement
and the protests themselves have became the focus of attention rather than
the US war. That's one good reason to avoid playing into such actions.

I also note that even those parties which did support the Shannon
demonstration (SP/SWP/WSM) ended up marching in two bunches. Then the other
parties, Greens, Sinn Fein, Labour, PANA organised their own demo outside
the Dept of Foreign Affairs. The direct action itself was sadly laughable
from what I saw - some guy running into the grass in front of a riot-clad
cop and a few scuffles. There were 450 garda in riot gear and about 350
people intent on pulling down the perimeter fence. As I was listening on
radio - I just kept thinking this was a 'turkey shoot' - the Garda were well
prepared, etc, etc. It's just a wonder only 10 were arrested. If SF were in
the middle - it wouldn't have been 10 people I guarantee you.

As for your remarks about SF's decision being made because of trying to win
the middle-class voters - I think it's completely wrong. If I had to guess,
it's most likely to have been determined by the beginning of serious
negotiations today in Belfast. Can you imagine the impact of a SF TD being
filmed close to where some anarchist types are doing a cop up - or even
worse, imagine if the garda used the opportunity to get stuck in to our
activists. The media would have a field day - the focus in all the media
would have been on our involvement in the violence and the Unionists would
be able to play that card to their benefit. It might not appear this way in
Dublin, but from an Irish Republican perspective the negotiations currently
underway in Belfast are quite possibly the most important thing in Irish
history since 1921. I do not say that lightly. Such a consideration means
that political considerations about outcomes from actions needs to be
prioritised.

Unfortunately, that might mean a 'sos' (i.e. break) on DA whether against US
warplanes (or even by OSF against Brit Barracks here). In particular, where
it's advertised beforehand on the internet, organised by people not entirely
trusted and deeply counter-productive -I can understand a little caution.

Is mise
DOC.






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