Report of Sept 28th 2002 Anti war demonstration in Dublin

Saturday saw a sizeable anti-war demonstration in Dublin, in which over 2,000 people participated, organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement. This makes it slightly larger then the largest of the anti-Gulf marches of a decade ago.


 

A good turn out but Shannon is key

Saturday saw a sizeable anti-war demonstration in Dublin, in which over 2,000 people participated, organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement. This makes it slightly larger then the largest of the anti-Gulf marches of a decade ago. With the people of Iraq once more in the target sights of US bombers this is a good place for anti-war activists to build from.

Most of the participants were young with the older ones coming from a variety of organised groups, the parties of the far left, anarchists of the WSM, Palestine solidarity groups, the Green Party and various religious groups both Islamic and Christian. There was also a small group of 'US Citizens against the war'. Unlike the earlier anti-war and freedom for Palestine marches of this year there was no visible Islamic fundamentalist presence, no 'God is great' chants and only one obviously anti-Semitic placard.

Religious banner at start of demonstration
Pic: Religious banner at start of demonstration

The march was timed to coincide with the anti-war march in London, which attracted from 40,000 (police), to 150,000 (Sky News) to 250,000 (Observer) to 400,000 (SWP) participants. The exact numbers on the Dublin march are similarly controversial I've seen estimates from 500 (RTE news) to 3,000 (the SWP organiser of the march). Of the Irish ones the RTE one was most ridiculous, all the more so because as it was given the camera was scanning over a crowd of about 1,000!

The march itself followed a long route from Parnell Square to Stephens Green to the Central Bank with stops for three or more speakers at each of these locations. This meant it was two and half-hours in length so the numbers on the march changed quite a bit as people drifted in and out along the route. My estimate of a little over 2,000 is based on the largest size it reached; it could well be that 3,000 people participated in at least some of the route.

Collage of crowd at protest
Pic: You count them - a college of the crowd at the protest at Stephens Green

There had been quite a bit of discussion about the usefulness of yet another anti-war march in Dublin in advance of the demonstration, particularly from groups outside of Dublin. So the turnout from around the country was pretty mixed, some 40 travelled by bus from Derry but far smaller numbers then on the previous demonstrations had come from Cork.

No blood for oil
Pic: No blood for oil

Many activists feel that Shannon airport should be the key site for future anti-war demonstrations because US military planes are using it for re-fuelling. Already there have been a number of small protests there, and a number of arrests. Some of these have co-incided with the arrival of US military jets at the airport. SWP leaders argued on Indymedia in advance of the Dublin protest that it could be used to build for Shannon. The SWP dominates the IAWM.

Anti war stencil
Pic: Some activists were spraying this anti-war stencil onto the pavements during the march

The Nice referendum was called for the same day as the IAWM protest at Shannon was planned (19 October) so the day of the Shannon protest has been changed to October 12th. There was talk on the march of ten buses being arranged to travel from Dublin to Shannon on the day. If this is true then it appears the IWAM is taking the protest seriously, and there is a need for people to make sure they are on those buses (or make their own travel arrangements).

Marching by Trinity College Dublin
Pic: Marching by Trinity college

There will be a need to ensure that some form of mass Direct Action takes place during the protest at Shannon. There is not much point getting a lot of people down there to march to the gates and listen to similar speeches to those they heard on Saturday. This will require serious discussion in advance of the day and organisation on the day itself.

One suggestion in circulation at the moment is that we carry out a mass arms inspection of the hangers. This would involve getting as many people as possible to enter the airport hangers to check them for US military planes and/or weapons. This would also reduce the obvious dangers involved in hundreds of people going onto the runways.

Pic: Spotted at Shannon warport
Pic: Spotted at Shannon warport

In any case Shannon offers a real opportunity for Irish anti-war activists to make a real impact on the war. Stopping refuelling at Shannon would be a minor logistical blow to the US military as they have lots of alternative bases. But politically it would be a major blow to the war effort, all the more so if the example was taken up in other countries that have US military bases. 250,000 people marching on a US or RAF airfield outside London with the intention of occupying it for instance could take Britain out of the war.

Andrew


Pic: Marching down O'Connell st

 


 

Dublin anti-war march
Pic: The march crossing O'Connell st Bridge

 

LAN placards against Shannon fuelling
Pic: Leafleting before the march

US citizens for peace

Pic: US citizens for peace, and Joe Higgins speaks to the crowd

 

Don't attack Iraq banner
Pic: Don't attack Iraq banner

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

  


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