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(en) Ireland, Report on Autumn 2007 WSM anarchist federation National Conference

Date Mon, 19 Nov 2007 09:42:34 +0000


The Workers Solidarity Movement held its Autumn 2007 National Conference in Dublin on the 3rd/4th November. National conferences take place every six months and are the prime decision making body on positions and priorities for the organisation. All WSM members can attend, vote and submit motions and amendments either as individuals or as groups. ---- National Conference opens with reports by various office holders, editorial committees etc., followed by questions and open discussion. A summary of these reports follows with some details and discussion removed for reasons of privacy. ---- Report of the National Secretary
Membership ---- The period has seen a 25% increase in membership including a member in Limerick. Our current membership is divided into three Dublin branches, one Cork branch and one member in Derry.

Pro-Choice Activity
Following our last National Conference there was an upsurge in pro-choice activity in Dublin with the formation of the ‘Choice Ireland’ group and the high profile Miss D case. WSM members played an important role in the struggle taking part in pickets outside the court as well as benefits for the group and speaking at public rallies.

WSM members participated in a pro-choice rally called by Choice Ireland on Saturday 30th June which attracted a large crowd of sympathisers. The rally was organised around the theme ‘Fight for a Woman's Right to Choose’.

WSM members active in Choice Ireland helped out with the regular pickets of the ‘Rogue Agency’ on Dorset Street.

Trade Unions
There were respectable WSM contingents on the Dublin, Cork and Belfast trade union marches. A sticker advertising the Dublin march was also printed.

WSM members active in the Independent Workers Union were involved in a number of ‘Know Your Rights’ leafleting sessions which distributed info on joining the IWU and basic rights in the workplace.

Shell to Sea
On the 18th of May Dublin Shell to Sea escalated its campaign against Shell’s command centre – Corrib House with a 7.30am blockade which was reasonable successful. Many WSM members participated in the action and some were involved in organising and calling for it.

The arrest of three Rossport fishermen invigorated the Shell to Sea campaign and solidarity protests were held across the country, Dublin’s protest was well attended by WSM members and was followed by a public meeting about the next day of action which saw a number of members travel down and engage in an occupation of the site alongside around 50 locals.

A discussion around the practicalities of participating in demonstrations with a focus on Rossport was held on October 5th before the day of action the following week. The meeting was well attended and touched on a number of contentious issues including a lack of WSM participation and strategy in the campaign.

A small amount of Dublin and Cork WSM members took part in the October 12th shell to sea action.

Public Meetings
June saw a well attended public meeting on anarchism entitled ‘Call this Choice’, where the anarchist alternative to parliamentary democracy was put forward followed by a lively debate which even included contributions from Ogra Fine Gael.

WSM, DublinZAG and LASC co-hosted a speaking tour of Oaxacan activists (from APPO-CODEP) in Cork and Dublin at the beginning of July.

The Belfast anarchist bookfair was well attended by WSM members with a speaker on the anti-water charges movement. Meetings were held on workplace organising and contacts were made with anarchists from Solfed in the UK as well as the Serbian international secretary of the IWA.

On September 7th a very successful fundraiser for the ‘Anarchsists Against The Wall' group was held in Seomra Spraoi with funds going to help the group out with their legal costs.

Justice for Terence Wheelock Campaign
On June 9th, a sizeable contingent of WSM members took part in a Justice for Terence Wheelock protest. A spokesperson talked on behalf of the organisation.

A public meeting for the Wheelock Campaign was held to a packed out community hall. WSM members helped publicise the meeting with a majority of active members distributing leaflets door to door in the inner city.

Other
3 comrades attended the G8 in Germany one of whom was arrested during direct actions to shut down the summit. Upon release he wrote a lengthy report for the Indymedia and the WSM website on his experiences.

WSM members have been actively involved in the continuing success of Seomra Spraoi. The WSM has benefited by using rooms for meetings, socials, film screenings and talks.

WSM members continue to put their energies into the Indymedia Collective ensuring an online media outlet and discussion forum.
Publications Since Last National Conference
Red and Black Revolution
Issue 13 was published in October 2007. See http://www.wsm.ie/story/3102

Workers Solidarity
Issues 97, 98 and 99 of our paper Workers Solidarity were published. The number printed has increased to 10,000 since Issue 99.
Report of the International Secretary
I took over the position of International Secretary after at the end of July 2007.

Due to the other commitments I took a very passive position as secretary i.e. I didn't email or build any new links with international groups or strengthen any existing ones. Instead, my role developed into responding to any international enquiries and join requests, which in the four month period that I was International Secretary, were very scarce.

In August, WSM members travelled to the Glasgow Anarchist bookfair where they gave a talk at the Praxis meeting and two comrades visited and reported on a trip to Mexico and the state of the anarchist movement there.

In September, we received an invitation from a anarchist group in Florence wishing to hold a talk on the state of anarchism in Ireland. Three comrades are likely to travel to Florence for this talk. Also, the WSM organised a benefit night for Anarchists Against the Wall, an Israeli anarchist group which raised nearly 500 euro.

In October, an Israeli anarchist gave a public meeting in Cork, activists from Oaxaca in Mexico held a talk Seomra Spraoi and a number of WSM members travelled to the London Anarchist Bookfair.

The new International Secretary needs to foster relations with Praxis, the Gwent Anarchists and those interested in platformism in England.
General Perspectives Discussion
We have found it useful at each conference to spend 60- 90 minutes on a general discussion of perspectives before we move on to the specifics of the motions. This helps give all the members a sense of how we see things generally and is also useful at identifying problems and opportunities that are not otherwise raised.

These are general notes on the discussion.

Our opening general perspectives discussion focussed around a number of points.

It was felt that, given the current situation in society and how hard it can be to organise, we are in a healthy state and doing a lot of good work. This can be seen in the report of the National Secretary. Our involvement in the Shell to Sea campaign and Justice for Terence Wheelock campaign have been particularly successful. However, we need to analyse our involvement in all campaigns to be clear about why we are involved.

There was a discussion on the functioning of our delegate system. Are they working in day to day terms? Is there a fear of recall? Are delegates to campaigns meeting and coordinating effectively.

It was noted that we lack a medium term perspective. We need a more concrete direction and focus. We should join the dots between all the campaigns we are involved in.

It was pointed out that maintaining dayschools is important, as is internal education. Overall, we need to take education more seriously.

Our rate of growth and gender balance was also discussed.

Finally, there was general agreement that this National Conference was an inward looking one, and hopefully one which will leave us in a stronger position to make strides over the coming year.
Motions
With 26 pages of motions and amendments to be addressed, it was a testament to the maturity, patience and good chairing in the organisation that this could all be covered in two days (with time for socialising and an early conclusion!!) The URL at the end of each section is the location of the amended position paper.

WSM policy is contained in our position papers - written documents that can be amended at any National Conference and whose short-term sections can be amended by Delegate Council.

Environment
A motion replacing the existing Environmental and Animal Rights position paper with a new text focusing solely on the environment was passed.
http://www.wsm.ie/story/827

Abortion
Some minor amendments to this position paper as well as an addition taking into account our activity in Choice Ireland.
http://www.wsm.ie/story/839

Short Term Perspectives
Motions were passed:
* reaffirming our commitment to the Justice for Terence Wheelock Campaign
* congratulating Seomra Spraoi on its success
* reaffirming our commitment to the Shell to Sea campaign
* amending our position on the nationalisation of the natural resources of Ireland
* recognising the importance and limitations of social centres
* mandating the creation of a National Conference Review Group
* creating a co-ordinator of the Design Group
* creating a Pamphlets Publication Group
* creating a working group on Health
http://www.wsm.ie/story/454

Constitution
* The 8 points of agreement for joining the WSM were added to the constitution.
* An Interim Decisions Committee was created to deal with urgent matters.
* A motion on making our Delegate Council more flexible in light of amended motions was passed.
* An Education Secretary was created
http://www.wsm.ie/story/32

A full list of amended papers from this conference is below:

The Environment - http://www.wsm.ie/story/827
Abortion Rights - http://www.wsm.ie/story/839
Our Perspectives - http://www.wsm.ie/story/454
WSM Constitution - http://www.wsm.ie/story/32
Trade Unions (short term) - http://www.wsm.ie/story/423
The Student Movement - http://www.wsm.ie/story/833
WSM Practice - http://www.wsm.ie/story/853
Internal Bulletin - http://www.wsm.ie/story/807

At every WSM conference every position is open to election. In addition no position can be held by the same person for more than three years. Among other posts, that of National Secretary, International Secretary and Internet Secretary changed hands at this conference together with elections to newly created positions and all committees and working groups. Contact addresses remain the same.

Overall, the members felt the weekend was very positive. The good humour and jokes lightened the workload and we left with new ideas, priorities and a sense of purpose to bring to our work in the coming 6 months. The next WSM conference should take place around April/May 2008.
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