The first direct actions of the Erris struggle against Shell took place 8 years ago when 6 locals were injuncted and then 5 of them jailed for refusing to allow Shell onto their lands. In the 8 years that have passed there have been countless direct actions, dozens of arrests, about two dozen jailings and hundreds of people attacked by Garda or Shell's security company IRMS. But as the first two days of the week of action demonstrated that intense level of repression over so many years has yet to end effective resistance.
The second day of the week of action saw an unexpected success when Shell to Sea campaigners managed to breach Shells fortified compound and force security to retreat to the inner compound. While this happened much of the equipment, in particular the spy cameras, in the outer compound was damaged or destroyed.
This morning (Sat 22 June) around 50 Shell to Sea campaigners kicked off the Week of Action against Shell's experimental high pressure gas pipe in Erris by tearing up the bog road Shell has laid as part of its attempt to finish the pipeline. They also destroyed the sandbag dam that Shell were attempting to build across part of the estuary in order to be able to work on the pipeline route regardless of the tides. This was accomplished in full view of about 15 security from IRMS - the security company hired by Shell to repress protest.
Around lunchtime on April 15th we received word that there was an anti-eviction protest underway on Manor street in Dublin outside a house that had been squatted. A Garda had called at the door that morning and after being refused entrance had said he'd be back later with more Garda. The building had been squatted on and off a couple of times in recent years and was recently re-occupied.
The anti-choice movements have been repeating over and over the message in recent months that 'abortion is never a treatment for suicidality' This is frequently coupled with citing the realtively low current rate of suicide among pregnant women. But like other myths of the anti-choice movement it has emerged that until abortion became accessible to Irish women, through travelling to the UK, 10% of suicides of women in Ireland were of pregnant women, a figure far in excess of the general population.
Five years into an austerity program that is only working to make the rich richer, most of us are very unhappy about the lack of resistance from the unions. During the Croke Park campaign the SIPTU National Executive Council released a statement that included: "There is, of course, a wider issue of fairness in the Country as a whole because the wealthy are not contributing to the degree that they can or should. This is a consequence of the political choices made by the voters at election time.”
It is no great surprise that the SIPTU NEC have recommended acceptance of Croke Park II. But in their statement they admit far more than the should have and point not only to why it should be rejected but also what is needed to win. That is the willingness to threaten effective industrial action aimed at bringing down the government if they attempt to impose Croke Park II after we vote no.
The government says if we Vote no to Croke Park they will impose it anyway. Many of the union leadership try and scare us into voting Yes with this threat and by saying the only alternative is strike action. Both are right. If we just vote no than the government will attack us. And when they do the only way we can win is if we are willing to fight back - that will mean industrial action. It will almost certainly mean at least the credible threat of an indefinite strike.
Mayday in Dublin was on the evening of May 1st while in Belfast it took place on Saturday May 4th. I managed to get to both events with a camera, I wanted to get to the Belfast one in particualr to build up my library of stock photos from the north, and getting a load of northern union banners in a single day made sense. Below is my write up of the Dublin Mayday march and photo slideshows of my better shots from Dublin & Belfast.
300,000 public service workers may shortly be forced to strike, something that may very well transform the potential for radical politics in Ireland. The purpose of this Open Letter is to provide information for activists who are not working in Public Services in order to explain the importance of the No vote to Croke Park. It is important in terms of the general struggle against austerity and we want to suggest some ways you can help make sure this fight is won, in particular by coming to a discussion of just that on Wednesday 8th May at 7.30 in the Teachers Club. (RSVP on Facebook)