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(en) AmBushed! - Working Class Resistance#6 (Ireland)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
From Organise Ireland <organiseireland@yahoo.ie>
Date Tue, 20 Jul 2004 15:54:46 +0200 (CEST)


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The visit of US President George W Bush certainly didn’t go as smoothly as
the Irish and American authorities would have liked. Anti-Bush/anti-war
protestors impacted on the media at home and abroad. The real issues surrounding
the war in Iraq, and Ireland’s role in the imperialist adventures of the US
and British governments - particularly the use of Shannon airport to refuel US
planes, and as a stopover for the US military, on the way to Iraq – was again
centre stage. While the visiting Bush entourage itself came across little by
way of active resistance (a ten million Euro security operation and the tactics
of much of the anti-war movement in Ireland contributed to this) certain
actions did stand out as a result of their impact on his itinerary.

Protests took place all across Ireland, from small
events in such places as Donegal, to a march of
between 1500-2000 in Galway to the much larger march
in Dublin on the 25th. The mobilisation of massive
opposition is as essential to building an effective
anti-war movement as it is in letting Bush and the
world know that he is not as welcome here as ‘our’
politicians would like him to believe.

Members of the Belfast Local of Organise! marched with
over twenty thousand people in Dublin in opposition to
the Bush visit in a demonstration organised by the SWP
dominated Irish Anti-War Movement. This was a
powerful statement of opposition due to the numbers
mobilised but was nonetheless a symbolic gesture of
opposition in a capital city which was not on the Bush
itinerary.
Meanwhile in Shannon the ‘Ambush’ on Saturday began
with meetings to decide a route and guidelines for
action and reaction based on what were recognised to
be variable contingencies. It was decided that they
would march up the N18 to the N19 junction blocked off
for the Bush entourage. If seriously stopped the plan
was to pick another access way to Shannon warport.

Activists assembled at the peace camp at the Clonmoney
fly-over, with the Mid-west Against Military
Aggression banner followed by a cluster of red and
black flags making up the head of the march.
Sounding hooters and chanting “Whose streets? Our
streets!” they advanced up the dual carriageway.
Pushing through the police lines they were eventually
stopped on the approach to the junction by about one
hundred riot cops.
The aim to simultaneously disrupt the summit,
highlight the use of Shannon airport as a pitstop of
death, and to challenge the state’s security zone came
off. Re-routed media were held up by the Ambush.
Prompting Colum Kenny to write in the Sunday
Independent: “So much for the ring of steel. The Irish
organisation of President George Bush’s visit turned
into farce yesterday when scores of journalists were
kept late for the final press conference. A 15-minute
straight journey became a two-hour nightmare as the
official buses full of media were brought on a massive
detour of Co Clare in order to miss the protestors –
only to find that the protestors had outsmarted gardai
and blocked the roads. It all meant that the President
of the United States was delayed and the press
conference started half an hour late”.

By comparison smaller numbers of activists headed to
the Shannon Peace Camp and the promise of ‘direct
action‘. This was of course an operation more suited
to ‘full-time’ activists, and to their credit many
people had been involved in days, weeks and even
months of preparation – as well as showing up for the
action itself. The IAWM also organised a
demonstration in Shannon on the Saturday.

Anti-War Ireland was in large part created by anti-war
activists, many of a more libertarian bent, who had
become sickened by the authoritarianism and
manipulation of the SWP in the Irish Anti-War
Movement. Unsurprisingly given their experience of
the IAWM these activists have placed great emphasis
on democratic decision making by all those involved in
the actions taken. The extent to which this has been
facilitated certainly refutes attacks from sections of
the, particularly Trotskyist, left that these actions
are just examples of ‘elitist’ direct action.

A debate has been sparked off on the structure of the
anti-war movement while others, such as Socialist
Democracy, question the tactics of both the anti-war
‘movements’ now in existence. SD seem to believe that
AWI, Grassroots Network and Anarchist activists see
direct action as a panacea to a movement which has not
based itself to any significant degree on building a
class conscious opposition to the war and US
Imperialism. While members of Organise! would agree
that the forging of links with workers at Shannon is
essential this should not be used to discount the
actions of Ambush or AWI. Like much of the ‘left’
Socialist Democracy make the mistake of describing
direct action as something alien to workers, as
elitist and secretive – or “wrongheaded” when it
clearly hasn’t been planned in secret!
Direct Action simply involves people directly in
getting results – without intermediaries, officials
and, perhaps most worrying for party hacks and would
be leaders, without recourse to them. While strong
working class organisation has the potential to stop
wars and warmongers in their tracks we should not ‘do
nothing’ until we have developed the level of
organisation and confidence capable of making this
potential a reality. Yes, as IWW songwriter and
organiser Joe Hill pointed out, “If the workers take a
notion… Fleets and Armies of the nation will at their
command stand still”.

What is more likely to inspire confidence among
workers to come out in opposition to the war? Many of
the anti-war protestors in Ireland are in fact working
class. As to workers who had the potential to close
down Shannon for the duration, or longer, propaganda
linking their struggles and lives with the vast sums
of money spent on war is a start which has barely been
made. We must also ask what is most likely to inspire
people to further action - lively, enthusiastic and to
an extent successful protest, or walking protestors
around Dublin in what had all the enthusiasm and
energy of an exercise worn thin by repetition? Some
people are getting truly sick of being marched up and
down hills.

Anna K.

******************************************************


>From the pages of Working Class Resistance#6, bulletin
of the anarchist group Organise!.

http://www.organiseireland.org


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