The anti-capitalist blocs to the Dail

Anti capitalist bloc in DublinFollowing Gardai attacks on people protesting the bank bailouts on two seperate occasions we had a discussion in my WSM branch about mobilising for a protest that had been called by the SWP / Right to Work for the following week.  There was a bit of debate about being seeing to support what was yet another SWP front group (an ongoing discussion) but in the end we decided to try and mobilise the Dublin WSM for the following protest.  This involved the activation (and to an extent the invention) of a Dublin version of our national Interim Decisions Committee, basically delegates from each of the branches to make the decisions that needed to be made before the next scheduled branch meetings were to take place.

As one of the D-IDC delegates I formulated the detail of what we would do as a proposal that then went onto the internal WSM site to allow members to argue the issue our and provide feedback for the delegates to take to a decision making meeting.

That Dublin WSM call an anti-capitalist bloc for Tuesdays demonstration under the slogan 'They didn't share the wealth, why should we share the pain? Make the rich pay for the crisis' meeting up at the Wolfe Town statue at the corner of Stephens Green at 7.00 to march to join the demonstration at the Dail at 7.30. 
That all Dublin members will try and attend this demonstration and that it be advertised to our contacts. 
That Seomra Spraoi & RAG be asked to co-sponsor the call out.
That a budget of 150 euro be made available for a banner / placards / posters with the slogan.

At the first of what would become something in the region of 6 D-IDC meetings over the following four weeks this was agreed.  The limited decison making time available meant we didn't hear back from RAG before the call out needed to be issued but their banner was on the bloc itself.  Seomra did decide to back the bloc in time so they were included on the first call out (below) which I drafted.

Anti-capitalist bloc for Dail protest

Last Tuesday Gardai used extendable steel batons against the heads of protesters trying to enter the Dail carpark resulting in at least five head injuries. On Saturday they again attacked an occupation of Anglo Irish Bank by eirigi. We've seen the state react in a similar fashion to resistance in Rossport, Mayday 2004 and Reclaim the Streets. It's time to say Enough.

The Workers Solidarity Movement and Seomra Spraoi are calling on an anti-capitalist bloc to meet up at 19.00 sharp to march (perhaps with a short stop at Anglo Irish bank) down to the Right to Work protest called for 19.30 at the Dail. We think its important to show we won't be beaten into passivity and the greater the numbers who assemble at the Dail the clearer this message will be.

We stand with the Greek workers who continue to resist the cuts and reject the demonisation of their resistance and ours that has been waged in the Irish media. Against those who say there is no alternative we declare, "They didn't share the wealth, why should we share the pain? Make the rich pay for the crisis"

We hope you will join with us. Be there at 19.00 sharp as we will have a discussion of how we should best react to the events of last week.

The meet up point is the North East corner of Stephen Green, opposite the Shelbourne Hotel. Be there at 19.00 on Tuesday May 18th.

Over the next couple of days we sorted out the details of getting together sound gear for the bloc, making a couple of new banners for it and getting people to take on essential roles on the night.  There was a little bit of 'there will be blood' hysteria from the usual suspects on the left and in the media but we were confident that on the night the bloc would be disciplined in the face of likely police provocations.  This turned out to be the case.

I blogged the Gardai attempt to stop the anti-capitalist blog marching along with the text of the speech I had prepared last week. As part of our preparation for the bloc we had assigned Chekov to take photos and right a report on the bloc so there is more detail in his report Anti-Capitalist Protest in Dublin - May 18th 2010 as published the next day on the WSM site.  The WSM PRO also put out a press release on the Gardai attempt WSM condemn Gardai tactics at May 18 2010 anti-capitalist bloc protest. Also worth reading is the opinion piece by another WSM member Joe Duffy Highlights Makeup at Protest.

The D-IDC then took the decision to call a second bloc for the following week, this time with the republican socialist group éirígí.  Seomra were also to be asked again but somewhere in the haste of organising this doesn't seem to have been transmitted so this time an almost identical callout was just circulated by WSM and éirígí. 

Anti Capitalist Bloc 2 for Dail demonstration

Last Tuesday the Gardaí attempted to stop the Anti-Capitalist Bloc marching to join up with the Right to Work Campaign at the Dail protest. Despite riding horses into the march they failed to either deny us our freedom to protest or to provoke a response as we pushed through and around them. Join us this week, same time and same place as we once more assert our freedom to protest.

The previous Tuesday Gardaí had used extendable steel batons against the heads of protesters trying to enter the Dail carpark resulting in at least five head injuries. And that Saturday they again attacked the éirígí protest at Anglo Irish Bank. We've seen the state react in a similar fashion to resistance in Rossport, Mayday 2004 and Reclaim the Streets. Last week hundreds of us decided it was time to say Enough, this week we hope you and many more will join us.

The Workers Solidarity Movement and éirígí are calling on a second Anti-Capitalist Bloc to meet up at 19.00 sharp to march (perhaps once more with a short stop at Anglo Irish bank) down to the Right to Work protest called for 19.30 at the Dail. We think its important to once more show we won't be beaten into passivity and the greater the numbers who assemble at the Dail the clearer this message will be.

We stand with the Greek workers who continue to resist the cuts and reject the demonisation of their resistance and ours that has been waged in the Irish media. Against those who say there is no alternative we declare, "They didn't share the wealth, why should we share the pain? Make the rich pay for the crisis"

We hope you will join with us. Be there at 19.00 sharp.

The meet up point is the Wolfe Tone statue, North East corner of Stephen Green, opposite the Shelbourne Hotel. Be there at 19.00 on Tuesday May 25th.

There was also a press release from the WSM PRO Workers Solidarity Movement to join Anti-Capitalist Bloc in march to Dáil on Tuesday night.  A second press release just before the protest Anarchists urge united campaign against cuts reflected the decision taken at WSM conference that weekend to advocate the formation of a broad non electoral united front of struggle agaisnt the crisis (I'll hopefully be blogging on this in the near future).

The second bloc was successful but the numbers were below those of the previous week so after the bloc the decision was taken with eirigi not to call a bloc for the following week.  I wrote the report below on the second bloc for the WSM site, many of the photos in the slide show are also mine.

2nd anti capitalist bloc march on Dail

Around 200 people took part on the anti-capitalist bloc which marched to the Dail last night, meeting up with the 400 or so people who had already gathered for the Right to Work demonstration.  Unlike the previous week there was no attempt by the Gardai to prevent us marching although once more a large force was deployed both at our gathering point at the Wolfe Tone Statue and at Anglo Irish Bank where Gregor Kerr of the WSM and Brian Leeson of éirígí addressed the crowd.

The Sun Shines on the Anti-Capitalist Block!

For the last two weeks, the State has been busy showing its true colours, with Gardaí battering innocent protestors over the heads with steal batons, arresting peaceful protestors engaged in sit-in demonstrations, providing said protestors with ludicrous bail conditions (such as a barring order from Dublin 2!) and attempting to deny last Tuesdays Anti-Capitalist Block the freedom to march peacefully. They must have been embarrassed by our refusal to back down last week for while they turned out in large numbers, none of the silly behaviour on display last Tuesday was repeated last night.

Protestors gathered at the Wolfe Tone statue, apt perhaps given Saturday was the anniversary of the beginning of the 1798 Rebellion, in similar numbers to last week (close to the 200 mark) from seven. And while Gardaí did their best to intimidate stragglers in standing in a tight cordon around the corner where the crowd gathered and marching a mounted unit through the crowd on a couple of occasions, the march, called by the Workers Solidarity Movement and republican socialist organisation éirígí set off without Garda attack.

Flanked on both sides by lines of Gardaí, the protest made its way to Anglo Irish Bank where speeches were delivered by Gregor Kerr of the Workers Solidarity Movement and Brian Leeson, chairperson of éirígí. Both talked about the shameful behaviour of the state in relation to these protests, the disgusting manner in which this state continues to pull resources from community groups, hospitals, schools and the public services and pile this money into backing banks and big business. Both speakers also called for the building of a mass grassroots movement against the current situation, and spoke of finding genuine alternatives to capitalism.

From there, the march moved on and joined up with the “Right to Work” protest whose numbers matched our own outside the Dáil, before departing the way it started. Without trouble from the Garda.

WORDS: Ciaran IMAGES: Ciaran, Aileen, Andrew, Freda, Kev


Created with flickr slideshow.


The SWP did go ahead with their Right to Work demonstration.  I went to it and as expected numbers were considerably down and they sensibly announced from the platform that they were taking a break for the next few weeks.  In advance of the protest a few people had been saying that they thought we should have called a third bloc but from talking to them afterwards I think they understood why we hadn't wanted to keep doing something that worked until it no longer worked.  I wrote the brief report below on that Right to Work demonstration for the WSM site.

Right to Work protest fails to bring out the numbers

Just over 300 people took part in the SWP's Right to Work demonstration last night. This was a considerable drop in numbers from the first two demonstrations which saw around 1000 take part and last weeks which saw 600 or more march. This is despite the massive postering effort that had gone into the march. James O'Toole of the SWP said from the stage that 30 people had been involved in postering the city. There was certainly an impressive quantity of posters up all the way out to the canals and beyond. 

It had been said from the stage at last weeks Right to Work rally that several coach loads of people would be coming up from Waterford this week. This hadn't happened and when James was challenged on this by a heckler in the crowd he replied that there were people from Waterford present.  I failed to spot any obvious contingent in the small crowd so perhaps the coach loads had become a car load?

After the first Right to Work march ended with the Gardai attacking a small group of protesters who had tried to enter the Dail carpark with batons generated extensive (and often hysterical) media coverage it seemed likely that numbers would turn out for the subsequent protests.  Then unsuccessful attempt of the Gardai to prevent the first of the Anti-Capitalist bloc's marching to the Right to Work protest added to this sense that there was a need to defend the freedom to protest in particular as we had also seen the Gardai attack on the éirígí occupation of Anglo Irish.

There was no Anti-Capitalist Bloc feeder march called this week as the organisers felt both that the two blocs had made the needed response to Gardai attempts to prevent protest at Anglo Irish Bank and that it was a mistake to simply repeat the bloc until numbers dwindled. Wandering through the crowd at the Right to Work protest I recognised many people from the blocs of the previous weeks.

Also announced from the platform was the intention to delay the next protest for three weeks until June 23rd when Brian Cowen is meant to be having a dinner with IBEC at the Mansion house. IBEC is the PR organisation of the Irish capitalist class that has flooded the media with material intended to set worker against worker and weaken our resistance to the attacks on our pay, jobs and services. Disrupting their dinner while only symbolic in effect would be a pleasure and if it involved huge numbers could give a useful boost to the moral of those who want to fight back.

However we have to be wary of simply looking at building resistance as a question of moving from one stunt to the next. The capitalist assault is massive and can only be turned back by an organised and united working class response involving hundreds of thousands if not millions, most probably in the form of a general strike. The trade unions leaders have demonstrated they will argue and organize against such a response so building towards this requires a genuine united front, not just of the left but also of union branches, community organisations and campaign groups united around struggle and a desire to make the rich pay. It's unfortunate that to date the left parties and individuals have only been interested in building fronts that they can control rather than building towards the eventual launch of such a united front at the point where it would be a real power rather than a paper tiger.

WORDS & IMAGES:Andrew


Created with flickr slideshow.

When you understand that in this period we also had a two day WSM national conference and a 3 day Anarchist Bookfair to organise you'll understand why some of the organisation around this fell between the cracks and also why I didn't write any of it up at the time.  This blog itself skims over and leaves out a lot of detail of the process for a variety of reasons including time constrains.  I'll be returning to some of the themes here in the near future with a bit of luck (and time!)

  


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