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(en) Ireland, Red & Black Revolution* #9 - Looking back on the Dublin EU summit protests - Mayday 2004 - by Dec McCarthy - WSM

Date Thu, 24 Nov 2005 09:17:57 +0200

Last year over the Mayday weekend the libertarian Dublin
Grassroots Network (DGN) organised a series of anti-capitalist
events during the summit that marked the Irish presidency of the
EU. Thousands took to the streets, despite police intimidation and a
massive media scare campaign, to take part in a weekend of
demonstrations, street theatre, direct actions and street parties. It
was the most successful Mayday demonstration in Ireland in
decades and by far the most ambitious and exciting libertarian event
that the country has ever seen. That libertarians could organise
something on this scale would have been unthinkable a couple of
years ago. One year on, Dec McCarthy a WSM and DGN member,
takes a look at the events, how they were organised and asks what
sort of lasting impact Mayday 2004 might have on Irish politics. This
is part 1 of a 3 part article.

The front of the march on Farmleigh on the Navan road. From
The front of the march on Farmleigh on the Navan road. From

The ghost of mayday past

Compared to many other European countries Mayday
demonstrations have always been small in Ireland-even in the 1980's
when the Stalinist left was much more influential and the unions
were much more powerful. By the mid 1990's, with the old left in
complete disarray and the union bureaucrats more focussed on
partnership with the state and the bosses rather than workers' rights,
Mayday had become a fairly under whelming event. A typical
Mayday march made for a fairly sorry sight -consisting of an ever
dwindling bunch of left trade unionists, various Marxist sects
peddling their dreary papers and a small group of anarchists hanging
around at the back. The event would fizzle out after a dispiriting
meander around the city centre and some speeches. As a
commemoration ceremony of the historic battles and victories of the
workers movement it was almost ok but only the truly deluded or
dishonest participants of these marches could claim that these
events were an expression of the power and potential of ordinary
people to remake history.
A brief history of troublemaking

So given this dismal tradition why were the explicitly libertarian
Mayday events in 2004, comparatively speaking, such a success? Of
course there was the impetus of a major EU summit but to
understand why anarchists were in a position to organise Mayday
calls for a brief examination of the development of libertarian ideas
and practices in Ireland over the past few years.

Obviously, part of the story is the general realignment of the radical
left in the wake of the collapse of Stalinism and the subsequent
growth in interest in the anarchist alternative. A lot of this interest
can be attributed to the anarchist involvement in the burgeoning
anti-capitalist movement. Like countless others across the world the
Zapatista uprising and the massive protests against the institutions of
global capitalism have inspired, bolstered and strongly influenced
Irish anarchism. The central themes of the alternative globalisation
movement echo and develop ideas that are central to, or
complementary to those of anarchism; the practice of direct
democracy, the use of direct action, a genuine internationalism, a
distrust of politicians and wannabe politicians, and network building.
Gradually, many of these ideas and practices have permeated beyond
anarchism into broader activist circles and these ideas and the
dynamism of anti-capitalism has drawn a swathe of new people into
political agitation.

Dublin, Mayday 2004 was to a large extent the product of this
movement with its new models of protest. It is no coincidence that a
large number of the activists involved in organising Mayday have
travelled abroad to various counter-summits, encuentros and
conferences and taken part in the central debates and many of the
struggles that have shaped the anarchist part of the alternative
globalisation movement. In Dublin the enthusiasm and energy
generated by these developments and the appearance of a new
generation of libertarians was strengthened by the presence of a
small but consistently hardworking group of anarchists active in
various campaigns in the city for the past two decades.
Alphabet soup -GG, GNAW, DGN and the SWP

It was activists influenced by Zapatista solidarity work, radical
ecology and anti-capitalism that organised the first Grassroots
Gathering in 2001. This initiative was, in retrospect, one of the most
important taken by Irish libertarians in the past few years. There had
been some "anti-capitalist" umbrella groups in existence before this
such as Globalise Resistance but they had been badly marred by the
opportunism of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Since 2001 the
Gathering has been held two or three times a year providing a
discussion forum for libertarian activists who want to network and
share experiences and analyses. These events have attracted
hundreds of activists from various backgrounds and
non-authoritarian political tendencies, has galvanised the libertarian
left and played a very important role in spreading anarchist ideas and
the emergence of new forms of protest. It is probably not an
exaggeration to say that without the Gatherings it is unlikely that
there would have been any large-scale anti-authoritarian protests.

The Gatherings do not function as decision-making bodies but they
have given birth to a number of practical initiatives and activist
groups. Probably the most significant of these activist groups was
the Grassroots Network Against War (GNAW) who from 2002 on
sought to create a libertarian pole of activity within the anti-war
movement separate from the SWP dominated Irish Anti-War
Movement who were, in practical terms, trying to ignore the US
refuelling at Shannon and who opposed the use of direct action
against the war. Simultaneously, a number of punks and anarchist
squatters started to make an impact on anti-war events with Ireland's
first black bloc actions. These activities met with varying levels of
success but for the first time in radical politics in Ireland there was a
well-publicised and clearly identifiable libertarian presence on the

So between 2002 and 2004 it was becoming clear that a series of
overlapping and interlinked groups and individuals largely within the
orbit of the Grassroots could fruitfully work together on a range of
issues. This fuelled a growing sense of confidence and ambition
amongst libertarians and in July 2003 at a Gathering in Dublin plans
were laid to organise a demonstration against the World Economic
Forum meeting in Dublin in October. Grassroots activists in
collaboration with the Irish Social Forum planned to disrupt the
summit. When it was announced that the WEF meeting was
cancelled the same activists who later established the Dublin
Grassroots Network (DGN) started planning for Mayday.
24-hour party people-RTS and Indymedia

Before discussing the planning of Mayday in more detail it is worth
mentioning two other important factors in the run up to the first of
May 2004 - RTS and Indymedia especially as many of the people
who ended up in DGN were or are also involved in RTS and/or

The first couple of RTS street parties in Dublin were fairly small
affairs but over a couple years these events started to attract more
people. In 2002 there was a Mayday RTS along the banks of the
Liffey. Hundreds of people came to dance, chat and drink in the
holiday sunshine. As the RTS was finishing the partygoers were
viciously batonned off the street. The cops were quick to claim that
these unprovoked assaults was their response to a completely
fictional anti-capitalist Mayday riot akin, they said, to events in
London the previous year. The media ran with this until Indymedia
footage of the boys in blue in action radically changed the way the
story was covered. In general the role of Indymedia Ireland in
promoting non-authoritarian radical politics cannot be
underestimated but the work done by Indymedia correspondents and
editors at this time was invaluable both for vindicating the assaulted
protestors and for raising the profile of libertarian dissent. Mayday
2002 put Indymedia and anti-capitalist protest on the front pages and
the event remains firmly lodged in the minds of most Irish people as
symptomatic of increasingly aggressive and untrustworthy policing
policies and the emergence of a new type of protest.

The following year there was another well-attended Mayday RTS in
the city centre that passed off without any police violence. This
further established Mayday in the public mind as, at least partially, a
day of libertarian protest and these chaotic, joyful and defiant street
parties had a marked influence on the type and nature of events
organised over the Mayday weekend in 2004.
Organising Mayday

Informal discussion of a Mayday protest against the EU began in
mid 2003. At the Grassroots Gathering in Galway in November 2003
plans for Mayday were discussed in a more structured way.
Although a lot of the important details remained vague working
groups were set up that envisaged a Mayday closely modelled on
previous international summit protests with the aim of either
shutting down the bigwigs shindig -or at least disrupting it -and
using this as an opportunity to put forward our vision of an
alternative Europe.

The pace of activity picked up in the New Year as Ireland assumed
the EU presidency. For the next five months there were regular
meetings of the newly formed DGN to discuss what we wanted to do
and to begin the practical organisational work for the protest. From
quite early on in this process DGN decided that one of our most
important priorities was to devise events and actions that would have
popular appeal and allow for mass participation. (for more details on
this see the section below entitled Learning from Mayday 2-
anti-capitalism: where to now?). What emerged over the next couple
of months was an ambitious four-day timetable of events that was
themed as a "No Borders" weekend. The SWP led coalition
"Another Europe is possible" also announced that it was going to
hold some type of protest over the same weekend but based on our
previous experience of SWP fronts we thought it wise to continue
planning separately and discuss possible coordination in the future.

At these meetings considerable time and thought was given to how
we might get our message across effectively to people outside of the
small libertarian scene and the traditional left. Despite a fairly small
group of activists and very limited resources it was decided to print
fifty thousand leaflets explaining our opposition to the EU-one of the
biggest print runs of any libertarian propaganda ever undertaken in
Ireland. We wanted to ensure that we couldn't be easily marginalized
and written off as cranks. This was of particular concern because
historically the EU has enjoyed widespread popular support in
Ireland as a cash cow for infrastructural projects and various
subsidies and by parts of the left as a the harbinger of progressive
social legislation. We also wanted to clearly distinguish ourselves
from the rather unappealing coalition of nationalists, rabid pro-lifers,
racists and other loons who have traditionally opposed the project of
European integration in Ireland. So in the final version of the leaflet
we were careful to stress that we did not oppose the entry of new
states into the EU per se but that we objected to the neoliberal
policies of an EU run by bosses and multinationals that was intent
on the privatisation of public services and tightening border controls.
DGN was conscious that lefty whingeing and outrage on its own
doesn't often inspire people so the leaflet also tied to outline a
positive and constructive alternative to the bosses' Europe. When the
leaflets were finally printed up we started distributing them in the
city centre and in housing estates around Dublin and to a lesser
extent in other Irish cities. In addition, thousands of flyers, stickers
and posters were printed up and plastered all over the city.

As part of the effort to go beyond the "usual suspects" activists tried
to make contact with refugee groups, the anti bin-tax campaign that
was opposing the imposition of neoliberal service taxes and other
campaigns and groups. An international call out to libertarians was
also sent out. By February it was clear that a number of English
groups were going to respond to the call the most organised of which
was the WOMBLES who held several meetings in London in
preparation for Mayday and travelled over for the Grassroots
Gathering in Cork in early March in order to network with Irish
Don't believe the hype- mayday and media

By February we had already garnered some sensationalist and deeply
dishonest coverage of our plans but I don't think any of us could
have predicted the extent of the eventual media scare campaign.
Over the next two months there were a blizzard of articles in which
the word violence was to appear with ever increasing frequency and
less and less meaning or context in newspapers and in TV and radio
studios. This non-issue was seized upon by every hack with a
laptop-who knocked out one or another version of the standard
article about the threat of violent and mindless anarchists arriving to
sack the city and Dubliners were duly promised everything from a
twenty thousand strong anarchist army to gas attacks.

To counter this smear campaign DGN created a group of media
spokespeople. Their unstinting and consistently intelligent efforts to
take the media on at their own game and get our message to the
general public enjoyed a good measure of success. Closer to Mayday
the work of the media group pushed some reporters to question
some of the more ludicrous stories being circulated. Their work was
complemented and strengthened by the efforts of Indymedia Ireland
in the months before Mayday. In the week before the protests
Ireland's first Indymedia centre was opened up in Dublin's inner city
providing alternative media, including the DGN media group, an all
important base and a platform to work from. It is likely that these
media activists prevented the wholesale criminalisation of the
Mayday protests. Also, rather paradoxically, the coverage generated
interest in Mayday- giving us the sense that we were at the centre of
something important and exciting.

Nonetheless, the issue of violence was the only thing consistently
discussed in the mainstream media and to an extent we ended up
being shaped by the lurid fantasies of journalists; fantasies that had
no bearing on our politics or our plans. The media group fought and
won a battle for DGN but inevitably the nature and the form of the
battle was determined by the mainstream media. In the media hall of
mirrors all the focus remained almost exclusively on the potential for
violence during the protests rather than on the effects of
neoliberalism and in the end, I believe, that we began to internalise
and, at least in part, respond to this media driven agenda
Enter the cop mob

The media frenzy could be more properly called the media/police
scare campaign. In the run up to Mayday the police mounted an
unprecedented security operation and a media offensive of their own
and their efforts played a massive role in determining what happened
over Mayday. There was talk of mass arrests, holding centres and
specially trained riot squads. A well-known Garda representative
opined that the police should have guns to confront the protestors. In
the couple weeks before Mayday things became really ridiculous
with the police regularly harassing activists for simply distributing
leaflets or fly posting as well as mounting an intensive surveillance
operation of DGN activists. In the couple of days before Mayday
three thousand cops were drafted into the city and Irish troops were
deployed and billeted near Farmleigh house where the EU leaders
would be banqueting on May the first. The police's new anti-riot toys
- water cannon borrowed from the PSNI- were trundled in front of
the media who reported the whole farce in the tone of breathless
excitement along with interviews of senior police officers who stated
in an august and serious manner that they were now ready to defend
the great and good against a horde of international anarchists. More
seriously for the protest organisers though was the discovery and
closing by the cops of the planned accommodation/convergence
centre in a recently squatted derelict house. Worse still, three
English anarchists were arrested nearby and held in custody on
trespass charges. The cops then further upped the ante by raiding
the flats of two Irish anarchists. This carnival of reaction provided
even further testament, for anyone who needed it, to the boundless
vanity of Irish politicians, the craven servility of most of the media
and the ability of senior police to talk unmitigated shite.

The arrests and the loss of the convergence centre was to bedevil us
over the following days with many of the international anarchists far
from impressed with the set up or DGN's tactical choices. In turn,
the attitude and approach of some of the visitors didn't exactly
enamour some of the internationals to DGNers. (These conflicts
over tactics, infrastructure and approach bring into sharp focus some
of the more important issues thrown up during Mayday and this is
discussed more fully in the box below Learning from Mayday 1)
Here comes the weekend

The weekend began with a small demonstration in support of the
English arrestees in custody at Mountjoy jail. Because of the
massive police operation and the media hype there was considerable
trepidation amongst DGN activists about how many people might
have been scared off from joining the protest. The first billed event -
the Critical Mass- put those fears to rest as 600 people turned up on
a Friday evening to an event that usually attracts about a fifth of that
number and thankfully despite the tension the prevailing atmosphere
was festive, defiant and empowering.

Early the next day a worryingly small group, even given the tardiness
of most Irish anarchists, witnessed a series of street theatre pieces
against Fortress Europe. The police on the other hand had no
problem getting up early and police lines and crowd control barriers
were in place all over the city while vans full of riot police
criss-crossed the city and a surveillance helicopter followed us
overhead. On top of this, the cops had, without warning, imposed a
de facto ban on the planned Saturday evening protest by declaring
our long publicised meeting point for the Bring the Noise march a no
go area. All the same the mood and numbers picked up as we
finished our No Borders protest and we gathered to "Reclaim the
Take over the city

Reclaiming the city consisted of a circuitous, RTS style wander
around the city centre. This meandering carnival briefly halted as
activists dropped about the housing crisis from the roof of a recently
evicted squat. This was followed by a mass break in into a privately
owned park in one of the posher areas of the city centre. Thousands
of picnicking anarchists enjoyed the sun, chatted, listened to live
music and old 38s on a wind-up gramophone -temporarily returning
the beautifully appointed Fitzwilliam Park to the commons. Then we
crossed the city to blockade a Top Oil petrol station as this company
has been helping refuel US planes on their way to Iraq. As this had
been a regular target of Irish anarchists over the previous year the
cops had pre-empted us and when we arrived solid lines of police
were guarding the forecourt resulting in a far more effective and
hassle free shut down that we could have hoped for.
Bring the noise

As we made our way to the hastily chosen alternative meeting up
point for the "Bring the Noise" march it was clear, despite our worst
fears, that a sense of momentum and excitement had built up over
the previous week and the day was going to be a success. All along
Dublin's main street the cops were guarding the banks and the
crappy fast-food outlets but in the middle there was a crowd of
thousands. People continued to flock towards the march including
people from the "Another Europe is Possible" rally that had finished
some time earlier and the impromptu speeches began. As the crowd
of about 3000 moved off the chants and shouts grew to a crescendo
and as we passed through the inner city the protest swelled to about
4000-5000 people. The sense of resolve, spontaneous revolt and joy
was infectious and to music, foghorns, whistles and roars we
marched for over an hour towards the banquet centre.

Many of us were surprised that the march got as far as it did but as
we came within half a kilometre of Farmleigh house at the Ashtown
roundabout we saw the police lines. We came to a halt eighty metres
in front of the cops and water cannons. The end of the march was
announced and the largely masked up "pushing bloc" came forward
with arms linked and approached the police lines accompanied by a
sizeable number of protestors from the DGN march and the odd
pisshead. After some pushing and the throwing of a few fairly
ineffective missiles like half empty cans and plastic bottles, the riot
police replaced the uniformed Gardai and there were a number of
baton charges. At this point one uniformed policewoman was taken
to hospital with a superficial head injury. The pushing bloc was
broken up and there were a number of scuffles.

Then came the moment the hacks, the senior cops and perhaps even
a few of protestors had been waiting for- the water cannon were
deployed. After spraying the protestors there were some more
scuffles. This prompted an ill advised sit down protest by a handful
of people and some wonderfully surreal antics involving dancing
protestors and a large bearded man scooping some of the water
being sprayed by the water cannon and throwing it back at the
tender. The police, not known for enjoying gentle mockery, moved
forward at this point and they began to aggressively push the
protestors back down the road. After the fracas at the Ashtown Gate
the police had broken an arm, sprained an ankle, cracked several
heads and inflicted numerous other minor injuries and arrested 28
people. This was the "Mayday riot" that was on all the front pages
the next day and although we spent four days on Dublin streets
engaged in various forms of protest none of this existed as far as the
media were concerned. There had been a "riot" in which the only
serious injuries were sustained by demonstrators.
No borders-no protestors

Early the next day a couple dozen people made there way out to an
accommodation centre for asylum seekers outside of Dublin as a
small gesture of solidarity. In order to discourage people from
applying for asylum the government had recently devised a "direct
provision" policy. In real terms this has meant shipping people out to
various parts of Ireland without any consultation, providing them
with often substandard accommodation and their meals and
providing them with the princely sum of 19 euro a week for
subsistence. The place we went to is called Mosney. It is an old
holiday village with chalets still decked out in various pastel colours
of holiday jollity. People can come and go but because of its location
the people there do not enjoy easy access to social services or their
broader communities. The solidarity action was intended to break
down this imposed isolation and make a broader point about the way
EU border controls are used to maintain global inequality and
privilege. In the end due to bad planning and overwork it was
nothing so grand. Instead there was a good humoured, low-key
picnic that we invited the residents of Mosney to join. Many of the
residents were away that Sunday but nonetheless a few people did
come out to talk with us. Complaints from Mosney management
combined with the arrival of uniformed police and Special Branch
understandably began to make the residents nervous so we decided
to leave early.
Party for your right to fight

Monday began with another solidarity demo for the arrestees which
was followed by the last Mayday event -a city centre RTS. After
some huffing and puffing by the Gardai around one of the sound
systems the party kicked off and the paranoia, stress and tension
were danced away in a celebration of freedom and resistance.
Aftermath- Protest and criminalisation

Of the twenty-eight people arrested after the disturbances at
Ashtown Gate twelve were held in custody without bail after a
special sitting of the courts. Just as with the English anarchists
charged with trespass in the run up to Mayday the courts acted with
perhaps unprecedented severity treating very minor charges with
great seriousness. Many of the Mayday cases are still waiting to be
heard but it has become clear from some of the cases that have come
before the courts that the judiciary and the cops are continuing to
deal with Mayday defendants with great zeal and unusual severity.
The intention behind this is twofold- it retrospectively justifies the
absurdly large police mobilisation on Mayday and it sends out a
message to anyone thinking of questioning the status quo in the
future. The charges against the English anarchists were summarily
dismissed when six months later in October the court finally heard
their case. The judge really had no option but to do this as the police
case against them was almost amusingly shoddy. Nonetheless, the
state got their pound of flesh; due to their punitive bail conditions
they had to put their lives on hold for nearly six months living away
from home separated from friends, family and comrades.

The criminalisation of protest is a European wide phenomenon and
intimidation of this sort is to be expected even in response to mildly
confrontational protest like Mayday. Nevertheless, such
consequences demand a sober and dry-eyed assessment of what was
really achieved by Mayday.
So was it worth it?

In the immediate aftermath most of the 60 or so people in DGN who
had a hand in organising Mayday felt exhausted but exhilarated that
we had pulled off such an ambitious programme of events with little
more than enthusiasm, hard work and a couple of thousand euro. As
far as we were concerned our protest had overshadowed the banquet
of the vain and the self-important men that rule us and shown that
resistance was possible. More importantly, we felt that we had made
a mark on Irish political life on our own terms and through vibrant
and imaginative forms of protest communicated libertarian ideas to
hundreds of thousands of people for the first time.

A year on do these claims stand up to critical scrutiny? In general I
think they do but with some qualifications. After all we knew from
the outset that our protests could do little to disturb the powerful and
their neoliberal project -scarcely enough to cause a little bit of
indigestion at the banquet. Any possibility of really disrupting the
summit evaporated in the weeks beforehand when the extent of the
state's security became clear and we could guess the likely number
of protestors and it was unlikely that we could do much except
temporarily question their legitimacy. This was confirmed at the end
of 2004 in the round up of the news highlights of the year our protest
had been forgotten and the focus had returned to accession and the
celebratory dinner.

Nevertheless, the fact remains, as I said in the introduction, the
protests reinvigorated Mayday and were a milestone in libertarian
activity in Ireland. It is also undoubtedly true that through
Indymedia, DGN leaflets and the media group's work innumerable
people were exposed to anarchist ideas for the first time and Mayday
has led to a partial shift in the public perception of anarchism, from
an obscure and pointlessly nihilistic philosophy to an active and
combative movement for social change. It is also worth reiterating
that one of the real strengths of Mayday was that the public heard
arguments against the European superstate on the basis of a positive
vision of the future rather the worship of an idealised and
romanticised past. These achievements are even more impressive if
one takes into considers the fact that unlike many other European
countries "civil society" in Ireland, as represented by NGO's, the
trade union movement, community workers and the like has yet to
be genuinely mobilised by the demands of the alternative
globalisation movement. It goes without saying that without this sort
of support it is more difficult, in terms of infrastructure and
resources, to mount a weekend of protests.

It is impossible at this point to measure the long-term impact of the
protests but it is clear that the experience of Mayday has
consolidated the small but significant gains made by libertarians in
Ireland over the past decade. Mayday has bound the small
anti-authoritarian community more closely together and confirmed
that we can work together collectively and have an impact. This
sense of hope and confidence is reflected in a range of ongoing
activities-work on social centre, preparations for the G8 summit in
Scotland, an anarchist bookshop, benefits, meetings and various
political campaigns and also in the fact that anarchist groups such as
WSM have seen a surge in membership.

I think the other most immediate gain is that Mayday (and the
activity of GNAW that preceded it) put anti-authoritarian ideas at
heart of anti-capitalist activity in Ireland and created space for new
forms of struggle. Of particular importance is the emphasis on
non-hierarchical organisation, direct action and support for a
diversity of tactics amongst anti-capitalists. On a more subjective
and ephemeral level the distinctive atmosphere of Mayday is also
worth mentioning because Mayday was more than anything an
empowering and defiant carnival and that may be one of it's most
enduring contributions to protest culture in Ireland. All of this
doesn't really mean that much in the short term as anti-capitalism is
a very small tendency on the left in Ireland. But f these ideas are to
thrive we will need a genuine diversity of tactics -something that was
impossible until we loosened the cold and rigid grasp of Trotskyism
on the political expression of dissent. This opens up the possibility
that with continued hard work we can begin to influence major
political campaigns and social movements ensuring that direct
democracy and direct action remain become an integral part of
protest in Ireland.
Towards a conclusion-Mayday in context

Mayday was imagined and planned in a similar way to hundreds of
other anti-capitalist events around the world and this links DGN to a
global movement for radical change. But what does that mean in an
Irish context? Anti-capitalism as a set of hopes, values, ideas and
practices has been successful in creating a space for anarchism but
nonetheless, as I have said, at the moment Irish anti-capitalism
remains marginal; a movement in embryo that has only the
shallowest of roots in workplace and community struggles. Mayday
2004 was bigger than we expected but it was not the expression of a
mass movement of any sort. For instance it was noticeable that over
the weekend that we failed to attract any Irish workers threatened by
neoliberal policies. They may well have been there at the march but
they were not there in an organised fashion. In contrast, at the
anti-G8 protests at Genoa part of the Irish contingent was a group of
bus drivers against privatisation with their own banner. It is a small
and telling detail that these workers or others in a similar situation
didn't do the same in Dublin. Similarly, the weekend didn't include
any action in support of the non-payment of waste charges
introduced as part of the neoliberal agenda of privatising public
services. This was discussed and several attempts were made to see
this happen but because libertarians were a minority within a
campaign dominated at a central committee level by Trotskyists
these attempts came to nought. Finally, our No Borders weekend
was not backed or attended by any organised immigrant groups.
Clearly we have we are currently far from being a "movement of
movements". To change this and create broader networks will need
patient, assiduous campaigning and increased levels of organisation
on the libertarian left. It will, I believe, also demand greater ambition
and much more sophisticated strategic thinking on our part which of
course is easy to call for but much more difficult to put into practice.

So Mayday was a whispered threat, a promise to the future, a party
for the sake of a party, an example of direct democracy in action but
in the end only a very small beginning….
About these articles

These articles are greatly extended versions of an article to be
published in Red & Black Revolution No 9. There are 3 articles in
this set (as well as two further ones on the media published in RBR8
and half a dozen news reports published by the WSM at the time.
Together this comprise some 30,000 words on the events of that

Looking back on the Dublin EU summit protests - Mayday 2004
In 2004 the Mayday weekend the libertarian Dublin Grassroots
Network (DGN) organised a series of anti-capitalist events during
the summit that marked the Irish presidency of the EU. Thousands
took to the streets, despite police intimidation and a massive media
scare campaign, to take part in a weekend of demonstrations, street
theatre, direct actions and street parties.

Learning from Dublin Mayday - some organisational problems
Many of the problems that we encountered were probably
unavoidable and can be put down to lack of experience, bad or
unclear decision-making or overwork. However, there are other
issues that cannot be so easily dismissed-in particular the lack of
accommodation and other facilities for visiting protestors and
insufficient support for defendants from DGN following the protests.

Learning from Dublin Mayday - anti-capitalism: where to now?
he experience of Mayday brings up us back to some of the
perennial questions thrown up by counter summits protests: how do
we broaden our movement and what role does direct action and
confrontational tactics have in that process. The following article is a
personal account of DGN's approach to such issues in relation to
Mayday and goes on to argue for increased tactical flexibility from
anarchists within the anti-capitalist movement.

Meeting in progress on O'Connell street: From indymedia.ie by
Noise machine
Meeting in progress on O'Connell street: From indymedia.ie by
Noise machine

Watercannon in action on the Navan road: From indymedia.ie by
Watercannon in action on the Navan road: From indymedia.ie by

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A pretty definitive account
by Laurence - DGN Tuesday, Aug 9 2005, 12:22pm

Fair play to Dec for a pretty definitive account of Mayday 04 - it must
have been a mountain of work to put all this together again in such a
clear way. A few minor comments:

- Took me two days to work out that the comments about the central
committee being dominated by Trots referred to the bin charges
campaign, not DGN! A tad more editing could have helped there.

- Not sure if the problem with building links in communities and
workplaces is primarily that DGN is an unstable network - in part of
course it also depends what kinds of links we want to build. My own
experience is that the issue is not which organisation we trade under
but rather the different organisational strategies that community
groups (and trade unions?) work with.

- The point about media work being primarily to stop criminalisation
is spot on - as far as I can see our main job was to keep the cops and
courts from stepping further out of line. This is important in the light
of other debates around how we relate to the media, which often I
think focus on whether we can get our message across in the
mainstream media. As Dec observes, we can't do it except in their
terms (IMHO) but that doesn't mean it's useless for other purposes.

- I think there are real tactical issues around the route that was
chosen on the Saturday (which helped protect us from a real cop
riot), how well we let people know where the main march was
stopping, and the lack of planning for the return to the city centre
which deserve more discussion among activists.

Roughly, the first one was spot on, the second one was a problem
due to small numbers of organisers knowing what was happening
(perhaps inevitable initially), and the third one as far as I could see
was saved from disaster (eg groups being cut off and penned in) by
lots of individuals knowing what to do from their own experience.

None of that takes away from Dec's main point that we need to do
more talking about strategy and less fetishising of tactics, but these
blend into each other - the reason tactics work or don't work has to
do with the nature of the world "out there", and that is ultimately
what strategy is aimed at as well.

One positive note to end on: I think much of the legacy of Mayday is
actually to be found in the G8 mobilisation, the revival of direct
action around Ireland this summer, and the flourishing of
autonomous libertarian initiatives. Of course these are all parts of the
same wave, so it's not that Mayday made any of these happen. But
each success encourages other people to push the boat out a bit

A preview and longer version of the article
of Red & Black Revolution (no 9, Spring 2005)

Read more articles from this issue
* Journal of the WSM anarchist federation
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