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(en) Workers Solidarity No 73 - Shannon - Direct Action against the War &endash; Activists on the runway!

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 7 Dec 2002 04:33:54 -0500 (EST)


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Mass direct action always grabs attention, energising
those involved and provoking those who observe or
hear of it to think about the reasons for it. On October
12th a big protest at Shannon airport against the
landing and refueling of American war planes finally
provoked some media attention. Though there had
been many protests at Shannon this was the biggest yet.

Throughout the broad movement against the US war drive
there had been a consistent demand that the Shannon
facility to US warplanes be ended and that this should be a
major target of the movement itself. The Irish Anti War
Movement eventually responded to the pressure and
organised a march there. Hundreds attended with buses
from Galway, Cork and Dublin and people travelling from
as far afield as Sligo and Derry.

An attempt to have a mass democratic meeting at the start
to discuss tactics, as had happened at the previous protest,
was prevented by Socialist Workers Party stewards
instructing marchers onto the road. Bad feeling resulted but
everyone marched on to the airport. A vain attempt was
made to enter the terminal building by charging the only
door the Security had left open, which was jammed with
dozens of Gardai. After this calmed down a bit we were into
the speeches. A die in was held (where people lie down on
the ground in silence in a scene reminiscent of those
pictures of the by-product of war) a minute's silence and
there was lots of silly arguments between the TDs, MEPs,
etc. present and the senior Garda.

In the meantime a group of us interested in militant direct
action of some sort met on the edge of the demo. Having
been prevented from putting our ideas before the rest of the
demonstrators to create a clear block for those interested in
direct action we felt we had no choice but to act with those
we could muster as we met them. An action was decided
on. On the way out we would detach ourselves from the
march and shake the wire fence guarding the airport
hangars, runways and other buildings. Hopefully more
people would join in and we would give a dramatic finish to
the days events which some felt were after becoming rather
sterile.

However, once the fence was shaken, it collapsed (this we
knew was a possibility and would open up more
possibilities). Loads of people rushed forward to join in and
as one woman took the initiative and ran onto the grass
suddenly people started streaming through. With hundreds
now on the runway margin the gardai brought up horses,
dogs, fire tenders (with hoses pointed at the sitting, singing
protestors), garda vans and squad cars. 10 people were
arrested. There were road blockings and sit-downs to
demand their release. Protesters gathered outside Shannon
Garda Station until the 10 were released. The protest made
the news locally and nationally.

Instead of pleading with the government to not allow the US
to use Shannon, people had acted directly to show there
would be a price to pay and to inspire others to realise that
with numbers we could make it impossible for the
government to continue this action. The means that will
stop the US use of Shannon will be direct action. Direct
Action is when people collectively act to achieve their
objectives by their own hands, it does not consist of
appealing to some higher authority. The first step in
Shannon was to protest and gather information, the second
step is to demonstrate the feasibility of mass action by
showing the weakness of the facility when faced with big
numbers, the third is to succeed in mobilising enough
like-minded people to simply physically stop US warplanes
using the airport. Thousands of peaceful protesters simply
surrounding US warplanes on the runways at Shannon
would make it very clear just how hard it could become for
them to use the airport, it would also send out a huge
rallying cry to the world.

                            James McBarron

See also
   Stop refuelling at Shannon warport http://struggle.ws/wsm/shannon.html
   Shannon airport in offically 'neutral' southern Ireland
   has been used for at least a decade to refuel US war
   planes. This page details opposition in Ireland to the
   role the Irish government has chosen to play in the US
   imperialist adventures.

      ================================
     This page is from the print version of the Irish
Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'  http://struggle.ws/worksol.html .

We also  provide PDF  http://struggle.ws/ws/pdf.html files of
all our publications for you to print out and distribute locally

Print out the PDF file of this issue http://struggle.ws/wsm/pdf/ws/73.html


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