Covering the 100k union march in Dublin

Saturday 27 November saw in the region of 100,000 people take part in a demonstration called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Dublin.  The day itself saw me juggling trying to help co-ordinate the 1% Network bloc on the demonstration, providing live coverage via the WSM twitter of the demonstration and taking what turned out to be a little over 200 photographs for the news article we published within hours of it ending.  I've pasted in the final article below, the second half of it is mostly composed of sections of other articles, leaflet texts and the planned speech for the 1% Network.  These had been saved the day before and were published with a general introduction and a twitter box an hour before the demonstration started.  The twitter box displayed the latest tweets sent to WSMIreland which were coming from the spot via my iPhone. The first half of the article is now a text put together by Odhran, another WSM member right after the march based on what he saw and what was reported on our twitter feed.

This was probably our most advanced experiment to date with providing live news coverage from an event and an important one as we knew that thousands of people would be looking for reportage of the march they had taken place in.  We promoted the existence of our report though twitter and our extensive Facebook network leading to around 1,200 visits to that story in 72 hours.  Over that period I edited it a couple more times to add the video that had started to appear on the web from the demonstration.  This means as well as providing a fast and accurate account at the time we have created a fairly decent archive of photographs and video from the demonstration, an important resource for the future.


 

 

Hundred thousand demonstrate against the four year plan

 

 

Despite freezing temperatures, an estimated one hundred thousand people were on the streets of Dublin today to take part in the ICTU demonstration against the draconian four year plan, which is raising taxes on low paid workers, slashing wages, social services and cutting social welfare.  The WSM took part in the demonstration with the 1% Network, highlighting the wealthy 1% of the population who own 34% of the wealth, and pointing out that only a general strike can force them to back down from making us pay the full costs of the crisis.

 

The march, which took about an hour and a half to make its way from the Wood Quay starting point to the GPO, was composed of people from all sectors of the Irish working class. Members of trade unions, community groups, and socialist and republican parties travelled from all corners of Ireland to attend the demonstration. Their frustration and anger was apparent when SIPTU president Jack O'Connor and ICTU General Secretary David Begg were booed for offering lukewarm 'solutions' rather than decisive action. [Read more in Did you boo Jack O'Connor then?]

After the ICTU speeches, the Left Bloc took to their stage at the bottom of O'Connell Street, where Joe Higgins MEP, Cllr Louise Minihan, and Cllr Richard Boyd-Barrett spoke, among others. Cllr Minihan, speaking on behalf of the 1% Network, said that "we are in the midst of a class war. This government, and the anti - worker establishment has launched savage attacks on the Irish people. Attacks, which have and will continue to hit the most vulnerable in our society hardest. The government aim to slash and cut their way out of an economic crisis, which they and their capitalist cronies created." (The full text of Cllr Minihan's speech is reprinted below.)

At the end of the Left Bloc speeches, approximately five hundred people joined a breakaway march to the Dáil, where they were met by a heavy Garda presence, including riot police and dogs. Fireworks and snowballs were thrown at the building, and pictures of Brian Cowen burnt. At least one protestor was reportedly arrested. [Read more in Secret police disguised as protesters at ICTU demonstration?]

The WSM highlighted the fact that ICTU can't be trusted to organise what is needed, a general strike.   The demonstration is seen by ICTU’s leaders as yet another one-off protest, another ‘letting-off-steam’ exercise, a trek around town from A to B to listen to speeches from the same people that have misled us to this position and then go home and get ready to vote for Labour in the forthcoming election.  Far from ‘standing idly by’ they are actively working to demobilise opposition to the government.   Against this we need to use today's protest as the starting point for the conversation about what we’re going to replace the current rotten mess with and as the first block in building for the general strike that we need to bring that about. [read more on why ICTU can't be trusted to organise a general strike]

In advance of the demonstration the police and right wing politicians and media commentators had tried to scare people from taking part in the demonstration by predicting 'violence' despite the fact that in recent years violence on demonstrations in the south has always been initiated by the Gardai. [Read more]  On the eve of the demonstration Mark Malone told the press that “It is not violence when we come out on the street to demand justice and a change to the system that lies at the core of all our problem. But we are met with a police force that is often intimidatory and, as recent times have shown, both violent and unaccountable.  But this is a distraction to what we seek to do tomorrow, which is to make our opposition to enforced insecurity clear and meaningful and to do so with others to build movements for direct democracy and proper control over our lives and futures." [Read more]

This propaganda from the right is like the talk of our rulers as the crisis being a case of 'Ireland against German or France' or similar nonsense.  The wealthy 1% of Europe are standing together to force the mass of the population of Europe to pay the costs of the crisis.  The workers of Europe from Greece to Ireland to France to Germany must stand together to resist them.  In that context we are delighted that there is a 'Solidarity with the Irish People' demonstration organised today in Paris.


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

On the demonstration WSM members distributed thousands of copies of this text.

1% Own 34% of the Wealth
In 2007 the richest 1% of the population owned 34% of the wealth of this state. In October 2010 economist Tom O’Connor estimated the total ‘net worth’ of these 33,000 Irish millionaires at a whopping €121billion. It is both wrong and immoral that the 1% should hold onto such vast wealth while the rest of us face savage attacks on our living standards and our public services.

Not only do the 1% control vast wealth, they also effectively control political power in this state. If we wish to build a new society based on equality and real democracy, we need to find a way to take political power away from the

1%.Will Not Give Up Easily
The economic elite are not going to give up their power easily. Marches and one day symbolic strikes will not force them to surrender power or pay for the crisis that they largely created. But we are many and they are few. And we have the ability to defeat their attacks on our standards of living and our public services.

A GENERAL STRIKE
The way in which the 1% can be defeated is through a general strike. It’s clear that the ICTU leadership is not going to call a general strike. ICTU have accepted the government’s cuts agenda, they just want the cuts to be 'better and fairer'. Therefore it is up to each one of us in our workplaces, in our trade unions, in our residents and community associations to build for a strong, co-ordinated, state wide general strike.

The 1% Network marched with the left bloc on the march.  At the end, after the ICTU speeches, the left bloc had its own alternative platform at the bottom of O'Connell street.  The 1% Network choose éirígí member  Louise Minihan to deliver an address for the network. Louise was selected because she was charged during the week for pouring paint over the arch-neoliberal Minister of Health, Mary Harney.

Louise said:

A Chairde

It is a great honour to address an organised and disciplined left wing bloc at today’s trade union rally.

Today’s bureaucratic Union leadership are not the vision of organised Labour James Connolly dreamt of. Connolly envisioned the unions as fighting working class organisations controlled from the bottom up!

We, as activists must take the union movement back to Connolly!

Comrades, we are in the midst of a class war.

This government, and the anti - worker establishment has launched savage attacks on the Irish people. Attacks, which have and will continue to hit the most vulnerable in our society hardest. The government aim to slash and cut their way out of an economic crisis, which they and their capitalist cronies created.

In order to secure the lifestyles of politicians, bankers, developers and speculators they aim to cut 6 billion this December. But, that’s not all folks. Under their haphazard ‘cutback to recovery plan’ the Dublin government aim to reduce their deficit by 3% by 2014.They plan to do this by cutbacks of 15 billion which will hit public services, pensions, and the dole. A central part of their so-called recovery plan is the emigration of thousands of Irish citizens. By their logic a whole generation of Irish men and women have been raised for export.

Where is the Unions response to this attack? Where is our James Connolly?

Ireland remains a vastly wealthy country despite the current crisis. The wealth of the nation is just in the wrong hands. 1% of our population owns 34% of the wealth. A fairer redistribution of this wealth to benefit the majority rather then an elite minority could go some way to solve the current crisis. The working class did not create the economic crisis, why should we pay for it? The rich elite and their greed in pursuit of profits are to blame- their class alone shoulder the responsibility of this crisis. Make the rich pay! must become the war cry of the working class and the organised labour movement. We must ensure that justice is served and the Rich are forced to pay for their crimes!

To cover up the fact that it is the rich elite that is to blame, the government has launched a vicious attack on the public sector branding it overmanned and inefficient. It should come as no surprise that public sector workers are the most unionised workers in Ireland. In light of this, the attack on the public sector should be seen for what it is. Far from being an attempt to make the public sector more efficient- which wouldn’t suit the government’s privatisation agenda- it is an attack aimed to divide the working class between public and private workers. It aims to break the organised labour movement. The targeting of the public sector is an all out attack on workers rights and conditions. Conditions hard fought for and won by the union movement over the last 100 years.

No section of the working class - be they public or private sector, retired or unemployed- are to blame. All workers must unite to fight our common enemy. We must hold firm to the old saying favoured by Larkin and Connolly that ‘an Injury to one is the concern of all!’

The working class have it within our power to defeat the right wing establishment. If organised properly the working class could bring the elite of this country to its knees. The IWU and the 1% network have called for a general strike in Ireland to resist the plans of the anti- worker establishment’s.

A general strike is exactly what is needed. Through a general strike the working class can defeat the cutback agenda and force the FF/Green coalition from office. But it shouldn’t stop there, - a general election to put twiddle dumb or twiddle Dee into government will change nothing for the workers of this State. It’s the system that’s at fault not how it is managed!

The establishment should fear us not only because we out number them, but also because we have nothing to loose but our chains. The great only seem great because we are on our knees- its time to rise.

Each of us must begin to organise a grass roots momentum for an all out general strike. If the Union leaderships wont back this call then we must remove them from office. Through a general strike we can show the true power of organised labour and awaken the class-consciousness of the workers. A general strike must seek to create the conditions for a more just and equal society. A society where the working class are in democratic control of our own destines.

The class war has begun. We must organise the resistance for the overthrowal of capitalism.

Our job as socialists, republicans, and trade union activists, in the words of James Connolly is

‘ To organise as a class to meet our masters and destroy there mastership; organise to drive them from their hold upon public life through their political power; organise to wrench from their robber clutch the land and workshops on which and in they enslave us; organise to cleanse our social life from the stain of social cannibalism, from the preying of man upon fellow man. Organise for a full free and happy life FOR ALL OR FOR NONE!’

The 1% Network is calling for people to come out again to protest on Budget day.  We will be meeting up at 5.30pm at the Wolfe Tone statue on Stephen's Green, opposite the Shelbourne hotel
 


Jack O'Connor, president of SIPTU is asked if he is going to call a general strike




3 videos covering the march and the small breakaway march to the Dail that followed it. The last one appears to show a secret policeman disguised as a demonstrator being let through a solid line of Gardai at the 34 second mark




Further reading

 

Video - Understanding the origins of the crisis
A very detailed talk on the cause of the current world financial crisis that starts off by explaining the background economics in an easy to understand manner, moves on to the role the war and other events apart from the sub-prime crash played .

 

  


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