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(en) Ireland, Dublin, The anarchist WSM Libertarian #2 - The Liberties - then and now – same as it ever was

Date Wed, 30 Aug 2006 11:11:52 +0300

‘The Liberties’ gets its name from a number of areas which were
outside the medieval walls of Dublin City. This doesn’t mean that
they were somehow free - it just means that instead of being under
the city’s jurisdiction they were ruled by a different group of
masters. The Archbishop of Dublin was the boss of one section, the
Earl of Meath was in charge of another, and so on. These men of
wealth and power taxed the areas they controlled and made money
from them but didn’t really care about anyone who lived there.
Jump forward a few hundred years and things haven’t changed
too much. In Georgian Dublin, the rich were rebuilding the city.
They threw up spectacular buildings and majestic roads and lived a
life of splendour. Dublin was becoming a sophisticated city -
architecture, music and the arts bloomed. However as is the case
now, life was very different for the rich and the working class. In
1790 the Liberties was described as the “scene of the most abject
poverty, deplorable sickness, and a magazine of fury”.

The next couple of hundred years brought a lot of changes to Ireland
- the Act of Union in 1800 abolished the Irish Parliament and the
War of Independence brought it back. Once Ireland settled into the
20th Century the bosses of the Liberties were the politicians who ran
the rest of the country - Fianna Fail (and the future Progressive
Democrats), Fine Gael and the Labour Party. The Liberties stayed a
working class area and its fortunes went up and down depending on
the policies of different governments.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s working class areas in Dublin were
suffering major unemployment - in some places as bad as 80%.
Meanwhile Charlie Haughey was buying shirts worth 5 grand and
stealing cobblestones from the streets to pave his drive at home. To
make matters worse, working class areas were hit by the scourge of
heroin. Communities suffered massively as young people got
addicted and started engaging in anti-social crime.

Groups of people got together to try and stop dealers from making
money off of other people’s misery. In the 80’s
‘Concerned Parents against Drugs’ was formed to try and
defend working class areas from the menace of heoin and dealers. In
the 90’s, ‘Coalition of Communities Against Drugs’
took its place. When the politicians saw what these groups were
doing they didn’t like it. These politicians wouldn’t provide
the money to help addicts detox, or clean syringes off the streets and
playgrounds but they managed to find the cash to fund a lot of police

Today, the likes of Mickey McDowell talks about protecting Irish
Citizenship. He wants to tell you that the problem in Ireland today is
that we have too many foreigners coming over and stealing our
resources. He tries to portray himself as the hard man - defending us
from refugees and asylum seekers. Michael McDowell knows well
that foreigners aren’t a big problem in Ireland. They’re not
the reason working class areas don’t have enough resources,
class sizes in schools are too big and hospital waiting lists are so
long. We’ve only had inward migration in Ireland for the last 10
years (at most) - if foreigners are the problem for the last 10 years,
what was the problem before then? Politicians use prejudice against
people as a way to split the working class. They know that if we
spend all our time fighting over crumbs we’ll never try to take
whole cake (or even the bakery!). They say that we should ‘look
after our own first’ when they’re the ones who have been
fucking everyone over all along. Lets not keep falling for the same
old lines.

This article is from The Libertarian. Issue 2 (August 2006), a
newsletter for the Liberties and Portobello produced by the Workers
Solidarity Movement

If you would like to meet with local anarchists or know of a local
issue we should cover contact us

You can download a PDF file of this issue from
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