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(en) Red & Black Revolution #7 - Direct Action against the war in Ireland by Andrew Flood

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 18 Dec 2003 10:37:58 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
http://ainfos.ca/ http://ainfos.ca/index24.html

Across the globe millions of people mobilised against the war in Iraq. On
February 15th 100,000 people marched through the streets of Dublin in
the biggest political protest in Southern Ireland for over 20 years. Around
15,000 demonstrated in Belfast on the same day.
The turnout on these demonstrations showed that the battle for public
opinion had been won. Massive numbers of people opposed Bush and
Blair's drive to war and the Irish government's role in it. But they seem to
have had very little effect on the war. The governments concerned simply
ignored them. In every country the anti-war movement was thus faced
with the question of what to do next. After February 15th we should have
expected to see the various movements internationally working on ways
to stop the war despite the fact that their respective governments were
ignoring them.

One obvious tactic was some form of direct action against the war. There
were many forms this could have taken; from industrial strikes and
boycotting of war work to mass invasions of the airforce bases and naval
ports essential to the military to enable the war to take place. The
mainstream anti-war movements talked of industrial action but in reality,
aside from very tokenistic stoppages on Day X, the only action that took
place was either the result of a few individuals taking the rhetoric
seriously (as in the case of the Scottish train drivers who refused to
transport munitions) or organised by the handful of radical unions that
exist in Europe.[1]

In Ireland, previous anti-war movements had limited themselves to
marching around the larger cities and listening to speeches. This time, we
saw the full range of debate and actions that have been common to
anti-war movements elsewhere for some time. Recognising the huge
public support for the anti-war position, significant numbers of activists
argued for, organised and took direct action against the war machine.
Anarchists were amongst those at the fore of promoting direct action
against the war machine. These actions were successful at driving out
three of the four commercial airlines, which had been flying tens of
thousands of Gulf-bound US troops through Shannon airport, before the
war began. The acting head of the US Embassy in Dublin, Jane Fort,
blamed the "threatening behaviour of protestors" for their decision to
leave. "The combination of two back-to-back incidents of real destruction
would prompt any company to ask if it would put people in harm's way,
people who might be working on planes or riding on planes."[2]

These withdrawals were significant because Ireland's location made it
quite useful for the US war effort. Official government figures revealed
that just over 20,000 US troops were flown through Shannon airport in the
opening weeks of the year. The Wall Street Journal of December 19th
reported that, in the January build up, "more than 50,000 US ground
troops are likely to flow into the Gulf region". It thus appears that over
40% of these may have come through Shannon airport, showing the
importance of this airport to the US military supply chain.

In Ireland, for this reason, almost all of the direct action protests were
targeted on Shannon airport. More than half dozen successful actions
took place, ranging from a large scale breach of the fence in October, to
physical attacks on planes as the build up to war escalated. Shannon has
been a target of Irish antiwar movements before, for it has been used to
refuel US military planes as far back as the Vietnam war. During the
1991 Gulf war, many of us marched around Dublin demanding 'no
refuelling at Shannon' - to no effect. In the years since many things have
changed, not least the growth of a libertarian network and a direct action
Shannon - first steps

A couple of years ago, Irish anarchists in the WSM initiated the first of a
series of conferences, the Grassroots Gatherings, aimed at bringing
together the new groups of activists who could be described as
libertarian in the broadest sense of the word. With the build up to war in
Afghanistan, it seemed obvious that it was time to move from the
traditional passive opposition to the refuelling of war planes at Shannon,
to taking direct action against the refuelling. At the first Grassroots
Gathering meeting, held in Dublin, it was decided to call a protest for
December 15th 2001. About 70 people took part in that first protest, far
less than the 3,000 at the Dublin anti-war march that took place at around
the same time. This demonstrated to us that our first task would be to
win the argument within the anti-war movements that Shannon should be
an important location for protests and not just something mentioned in
speeches elsewhere. On that occasion, as the protest was in progress, a
jet loaded with US marines landed.

The protesters proceeded to the fence near the plane and some of the
barbed wire atop the fence was pulled down. One courageous soul legged
it across the margins towards the plane, but was tackled to the ground
and arrested. The Gardai became aggressive and another protester was
arrested when they advanced on the crowd, pushing people to the ground.

A report written shortly afterwards observed "what we could have done
with 3,000 people will remain in the realms of speculation until those
opposed to war realise that direct action is the way forward."3 This was
a challenge to the other anti-war movements in Ireland as well as to
ourselves. Picking up steam

Demonstrations at Shannon started to become semi-regular from that
point on. In August 2002, during another demonstration (organised at
another Grassroots Gathering), the Sunday Times created the first media
scare story about the protests. The local cops reacted by trying to stop
us getting to the terminal building by blocking the entrance road. We
simply pushed through them. At the end of the day, one person managed
to get over the perimeter fence and make a dash for the runway before
being arrested. This protest were still small, again around 70 people, The
SWP-controlled Irish Anti War Movement continued to "prefer marching
around Dublin than taking the bother to travel to and take action at the
site where the Irish state is directly aiding the US war effort. This needs
to change. With war in Iraq looming it should be possible to organise
major protests at Shannon that could shut the airport for a period of

Anarchists in the WSM consistently argued that while marches in Dublin
were important, in terms of building the movement and giving people the
confidence to publicly display their opposition to war, more was needed.
Specifically, mass direct action protests at Shannon could have the
effect of actually doing something to stop Ireland's involvement in the
war effort. In October the IAWM finally organised a demonstration there.
Over 300 people attended. However, problems with its organisation
detracted from the protest's effectiveness.
Mass Trespass

Firstly the understanding to hold a mass meeting at the gate to discuss
tactics for the day, as had been done on previous occasions, was ignored.
When activists tried to get the meeting together, the IAWM stewards -
most of whom were members of the SWP announced that we were going
to start marching to the terminal immediately. So the meeting never
happened. This lack of discussion resulted in bad feelings afterwards,
both from those who wanted direct action to happen (and would have
liked a chance to organise it properly), but also from those who did not
(who wanted to argue against it or at least insist that there should be
clear division between the two groups). It also set the pattern for the rest
of the war, where the so called 'revolutionary' left within the 'Irish Anti
War Movement' would play the leading role, not only in undermining
specific direct actions, but also in preventing any real dialogue between
the movement they controlled and other activists.

The IAWM intended to confine the demonstration to a very tokenistic
effort to enter the terminal building, followed by the usual speeches from
the usual politicians. This was not enough for some and, as we marched
out of the airport, about a dozen people left the head of the march and
crossed to the perimeter fence. They started to shake the fence and it
rapidly fell away from its supports. Within seconds a 50m section was
down. The Gardai grabbed one activist standing near the fence but, as
they did so, another jumped through the fence and entered the airfield.

After a stunned few seconds she was followed by half a dozen more and
then, seconds later, another 20 or 30. As the Gardai started to chase
those already on the airfield, more and more people started to stream
through the fence until about half the protesters had crossed onto the
airfield, while the other half watched from just behind it.

Inside, the protesters continued to a point near the tarmac where a UPS
plane was parked. There was a quick discussion as to whether to move
on to the runway itself, but it was decided for safety reasons not to do
so. As more Gardai arrived, they initially concentrated on stopping us
moving any further into the airfield. Meanwhile other Gardai, some with
dogs, intimidated and shoved those between us and the perimeter fence
into leaving the airfield.

With most of the protesters back behind the fence, the Gardai
concentrated on the thirty or forty still sitting on the grass. They grabbed
a number of people from this group and threw them into vans, possibly
concentrating on those who they thought were organisers. If they hoped
this would intimidate the others it failed, as it prompted a sit-in on the
airfield as those remaining, said they would only leave if those arrested
were released.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence a group of a dozen or so
blocked the airport road, bringing traffic to a halt. They hoped to put
additional pressure on the Gardai to release the prisoners. This action
was actually opposed by the SWP who ordered their more eager
members off the road. Inside the airfield, two huge fire engines were
brought up and the Gardai moved back a little. They clearly intended to
create the impression that they were going to use them as water cannon
but when the activists still failed to move they retreated again.
Eventually, the police vans drove off with their prisoners and, after a
discussion, the remaining protestors decided to make their way to the
police station to demand their release.

Within minutes of us arriving they started to release those arrested. They
hadn't been charged but were told that charges might be brought later.
Obviously, someone above the level of the local Gardai would have to
make the decision as to whether a messy trial, highlighting the use of
Shannon as a refuelling stop for foreign war planes, was the best
strategy for the state*.

That day was our first real success. For the first time, there was a
trespass at Shannon involving dozens of people rather than simply a
couple of brave souls making martyrs out of themselves. It also revealed
just how vulnerable the airport was to such tactics, there are miles of
perimeter fence, it would take hundreds if not thousands of police to
protect it from a large demonstration.

The deep divisions between anti-war activists on the issue of direct
action also became blatantly obvious as it was increasingly clear that the
IAWM intended to talk tough about Shannon but to do nothing beyond the
usual protests. Those involved in the Grassroots Gathering realised there
was a need to be more seriously organised. A Grassroots Gathering
meeting in Belfast resulted in the formation of the Grassroots Network
Against the War. This called a 'direct action' demonstration for
December 8th.

This was a partial success, in that 350 people or so took part in
something at which there was intended to be direct action. But it also
showed up many of the organisational weaknesses in the Grassroots
Network. The Gathering had decided to leave it up to affinity groups to
organise their own thing on the day, but, with a couple of exceptions,
these were never even formed. This and a substantial police presence
meant that people ended up standing around wishing something would
happen but without the organisational structures needed to get things

Saturday 18th of January saw a second IAWM demonstration at the
airport at which around 3,000 people took part. These numbers
represented the first real possibility of a successful mass action, but the
IAWM took a position of non-participation in direct action in advance of
the day and no real organisational efforts had been made by GNAW. The
idea had been floated that we would simply meet up on the day, but even
this didn't really work out and we proved unable to even march as a block
up to the terminal. This was simply down to the continued failure of many
activists to take the need for proper organisation seriously.

Despite the lack of preparation, two separate actions were attempted.
First a group of protesters occupied the roofs of two buildings near the
terminal, causing Gardai with dogs to charge the crowd beneath. Then, on
the way out of the airport, a group of 30 people charged a poorly guarded
entrance to the airfield, only to find themselves trapped in a dead end.
Although these actions were both poorly focused and uncoordinated, they
did show that there was an increasing number of activists attempting to
go beyond tokenistic protests.
Hatchets & Hammers

As well as the large scale protests it turned out that both individuals and
small groups were planning their own actions. These were to have a very
direct effect on the issue. On January 4th a small group of activists
established a peace camp just outside the airport. Then on January 29th
Mary Kelly, who had been arrested on the December 2001 demonstration
at the airport and had also been part of the peace camp, entered the
airfield. She found a US Navy Boeing 737 on the runway and proceeded
to disarm it by whacking the nose with a hatchet. This damaged the radar
and the state later claimed that this attack had caused 500,000 euros
worth of damage.

In the early hours of February 1st, five activists from the Catholic
Worker organisation entered the airfield and began to tear up the runway.
They then discovered the US military jet that had been damaged by Mary
Kelly, sitting unguarded in a hangar. They entered the hangar and once
more smashed up the more sensitive external equipment with a hammer.
The combination of these events grabbed the headlines and Shannon was
now the subject of public debate all over the country.

As for GNAW, the two failures to organise ourselves seriously - and the
two missed opportunities they represented - did give us the kick up the
arse we needed. Proper planning got underway for the next
demonstration. On the morning of February 15th , in advance of the
100,000 strong march that day, a meeting agreed to plans for a publicly
announced, direct action at Shannon on March 1st.

It was reckoned that it would now be possible to get thousands of people
to take part in such an action. The public nature of the announcement
was intended to make it absolutely clear that what was planned was
mass participation in the direct action, and not something elitist or
involving only a small group.

The plan was simple - to form a line, march over to the perimeter fence
and tear it down. Its success would depend on numbers. If there were
significantly more protesters than cops, it would be possible. Provision
was also made for those who wanted to show solidarity but were not in a
position to participate directly, by forming a second 'observer' line.

Within a day of the plan being released to the media, two of the remaining
three troop-carrying airlines announced that they were pulling out of
Shannon, citing security concerns. The disarming actions, along with the
threat of another mass trespass had obviously caused ructions amongst
the companies making profits out of the war. A successful mass action
at the airport, as proposed for March 1st, had the chance of driving out all
military traffic before the war was even underway. So the call went out to
other sections of the anti-war movement, requesting their support for
such an action.
IAWM Leadership???

We expected a cautious and even negative response from mainstream
political parties, such as Labour and the Greens, and from the trade
unions and NGOs. However, we hoped that socalled 'revolutionary'
organisations such as the Socialist Party and SWP, would support the
action. Alas this was not to be. Their first excuse was that such an
action was 'premature'. But with war set to formally break out only days
after March 1st, the question asked was, "if not now, when?"[5] The
government was, after all, going ahead with refuelling despite 100,000
marching in Dublin.

Alongside this excuse, which could at least be honestly argued for, came
a range of miserable evasions that did their authors no credit. With three
troop-carrying airlines already gone from Shannon, some sought to assert
that such actions could not work! They muttered darkly about state
repression, soldiers with guns, armoured cars with plastic bullets and the
special branch (secret police). What should we have concluded from
this, that we should avoid effective opposition in case a cornered state
strikes back?

Worst of all perhaps was the argument that direct action would alienate
people from the anti-war movements. This ignored the fact that a good
part of the movement-building in Ireland happened through the publicity
that followed the various direct actions, in particular the physical attacks
on planes at Shannon. There was a poisonous insert to this argument.
Some left groups were throwing around the claim that direct actions
would somehow stop workers in Shannon striking against refuelling.
While all of us recognised that this form of action would be the most
effective, there was little evidence that it was any more they a 'pie in the
sky' slogan to pretend they had an alternative.

Some people in GNAW had been talking to Shannon workers. We knew
that those who worked as cops at the airport didn't like the direct actions
because every breach of security got them into trouble for failing to
prevent it. We knew that most workers there feared effective action
against military refuelling because some of the jobs at the airport may
depend on this refuelling. For these reasons, there was little or no talk in
support of anti-refuelling strike action by workers at Shannon. With the
war just days away, to put all our eggs in the 'workers must strike' basket
seemed foolish, to say the least, particularly if it meant avoiding action
that had proved capable of driving out the troop carriers.**

One of the mistakes made by the organisers made was placing too much
trust in the comprehension skills of journalists. The second line of our
plan of action read:*** "This action will be an example of mass
non-violent civil disobedience in the tradition of Gandhi's salt march." We
presumed journalists would understand from this that 'nonviolent' meant

Astoundingly, huge numbers of them decided 'non-violent protest'
actually meant 'violent protest' and headlines to that effect were
splashed all over the media. Chomsky's theory of 'manufacturing consent'
proved to be alive and well and living in the Irish media.

Things turned to real farce at Friday lunchtime, when Sinn Fein, the
Green Party and the Labour Party released press statements saying they
were staying away from the protest for fear of violence. To those of us
involved in the planning, the Sinn Fein fear of violence should have had us
splitting our sides. But unfortunately there was little room for humour, as
we knew that many people thinking of going would presume Sinn Fein
'knew something', and wonder what possible level of violence we could
be planning that would frighten them off!

Perhaps the most farcical of all were the reactions of the SWP and SP.
The least we could have expected would be that, if they didn't support the
action, they would say nothing. Instead things went so far as to have
Richard Boyd Barrett, chairman of the IAWM and a prominent member of
the SWP, publicly belittling the action on national radio, and various
members of both parties criticising the action vociferously in debates on
indymedia and other media outlets.

The sheer level of hysteria, which ran right down to suggestions that the
army might shoot people, seems a little unbelievable now, after the event.
Despite all this and the stopping and searches of coaches travelling to
the protest, over 300 people decided to take part in the GNAW action.
As agreed with the IAWM, we explained what we intended to do to all
those at the meeting point and then left for the airport building ahead of
their march. One of the IAWM activists later told me that our departure
was pretty embarrassing for them as every single one of the large force
of Gardai, who had been waiting at the meeting point, followed us.

We had expected most people with us would be joining the observer line
rather then the direct action line, but this turned out not to be the case.
At least two thirds of those with GNAW chose to march up to the fence.
Approaching the fence, we saw there were a couple of hundred Gardai
waiting for us, including the riot squad. The decision to publicly deploy
the riot squad in the first line in this manner was very unusual in southern
Ireland. Normally, at demonstrations they are sitting in vans, out of sight,
on stand by. It was all the more extraordinary given that the vast majority
of the population of Ireland were opposed to refuelling. The only
conclusion is that the image of the riot squad confronting peaceful
protesters was manufactured not for domestic consumption, but to keep
one man in a White House in Washington DC happy.

Arriving at the fence the agreed plan was put into action. The protestors
linked arms and then slowly walked forward until we came into contact
with the line of Gardai. We had hoped that at this point we would
massively outnumber them and be able to simply walk around them. They
were obviously worried about this as well, as their senior officer was
quoted before the protest as saying that it would be impossible to guard
7km of perimeter with 500 men but they would try their best.

In the event, he needn't have issued this disclaimer as there was pretty
much one cop for each protester. Plus, they had enough to spare to have
a cop every 5 metres or so running up either side of us and dozens more
visible inside the fence. Still it was obvious that, with two or three times
the number, the cops would simply not have been able to keep us all
away from the fence.

After a long period facing the cops, we decided to try something different
and got the whole line moving parallel to the fence. Surprisingly, this
caught the Gardai on the hop and quite a few of them just stared at us
moving off, until their senior officers ordered them to follow us. This
meant one end of our line suddenly found they were no longer facing a
wall of cops, but that there was only one every 5 metres or so. Seizing
the opportunity, people walked up to the fence and threw home-made
grappling hooks onto the top of the fence and started to pull it down.

In the space of a couple of seconds, the fence had started to peel off
from the top and cops had come charging in, rugby tackling people to the
ground, grabbing the ropes and generally shoving people around. Most of
the arrests happened at this point as cops randomly grabbed people out
of the crowd and threw them into vans. There were further arrests of the
few brave souls who attempted to stop these vans moving off, despite
the fact that a sea of cops surrounded them. But, on our side at least,
things remained calm and we offered no violent response to this Garda

We formed up and marched back to the entrance of the airport where we
had a short meeting in the car park outside, to get details of all those
arrested for the legal support team and to discuss how people felt about
the action. Both here and on the coach back to Dublin, the overwhelming
feeling was very positive. Most people reckoned they felt more positive
returning from this protest then from any of the other ones. In the end, the
direct action at Shannon was foiled in its intention to get onto the airfield.
But it demonstrated to us that such an action is possible to organise and
that is a major step forward. Indeed, were it not for the week of 'its going
to be violent' hype from the media, the bishops and even some other
sections of the anti-war movements, we almost certainly would have
succeeded. However, in the days afterwards it emerged that not
everyone was so happy with how things went.
Differences & Disagreements

After March 1st, the anti-war movements found themselves in a difficult
place. The direct action proved to be a catalyst, around which all the
differences simmering within and between the movements surfaced,
often in pretty ugly forms. Within GNAW disagreements arose between
those who though that with a more determined effort we could have
broken through police lines and those of us who thought, given our small
numbers on the day, such an effort would have simply resulted in lots of
arrests and serious charges.

Disagreements also arose about the role played by individuals, including
the author, on the day. The failure of some local groups to appoint any
delegates meant both that democratic decisions making was impossible,
but also that the Dublin delegates, playing out their roles, were seen to
dominate proceedings.

This meant the ability of GNAW to organise future mass actions had
been weakened rather than strengthened after March 1st. Many of the
core activists had been excluded from the whole county of Clare. And the
fact that none of the actions went to plan had inevitably resulted in some
internal tensions as some sought individuals to blame for this. This would
seem to be pretty inevitable in broad networks that lack both detailed
agreed aims and formal organisational structures. When such rows
occur, new initiatives are inevitably stifled as the focus is directed
inwards rather than outwards.

So the immediate aftermath of March 1st and the outbreak of the war
saw a move towards more local actions and internal work to both
increase the numbers involved in GNAW and improve communication
and organisation. Talks started about calling another mass action in the
future - but this time where we had much more time to organise
ourselves. The rapid nature of the war, however, meant that US soldiers
had taken Baghdad before serious discussion of this had even started.
Diversity of tactics Unity of opposition

Going forward, there is a need for all those who oppose war to do things
very differently next time. A few things seem essential. This includes a
clear acceptance that, although we disagree on tactics, we must unite in
opposing the war. The situation where some organisations used their
media access to attack the plans of other groups should not be repeated.
All they succeeded in doing was damaging the movement as a whole and
damaging their own credibility.

In terms of those involved in the Grassroots Gathering, we now have to
recognise that being able to build on this in future requires that we
convince some of the far, far wider forces in the anti-war movement that
they also need to be willing to act. The general model, however, has been
shown to work. In countries where the libertarian movements can claim
thousands or tens of thousands of adherents, it should be possible to
organise similar actions on a far, far larger scale. Above all else GNAW
demonstrated that if we take ourselves seriously we can move from
complaining about the tokenism of the left's opposition to the war to
demonstrating an alternative.

Unfortunately the government has won the battle of Shannon, at least for
now. Up to now Irish aid to US wars has been a dirty little secret. During
the Afghan war, the government was trying to deny that there was any
military material or men bound for that war coming through Shannon. The
US Marines in desert camouflage, spotted during the December 15 2001
protest, we were told were coming back for Christmas from West
German bases. As we all know these are surrounded by extensive
deserts. Through the dedicated work of the anti-war plane-spotters and
the Dubsky[5] court case, the reality was blown wide open for the Iraq
war. We knew tens of thousands of troops were pouring through
Shannon. This in itself was a considerable victory - it's very hard to
organise people to oppose something they are unaware of.

But getting this out in the open should never more have been more than a
first step. The point was to stop it. And here is where the government's
victory lies. On February 16th the state must have been worried.100,000
people had marched in Dublin, polls were showing that an overwhelming
majority opposed the war and there had been a series of militant direct
actions at the airport which had seen over 100 people trespassing and 3
separate attacks on military planes.

But Bertie and co. kept their nerve. They gambled that they could split
the movement by attacking the direct action wing as 'violent' and
demanding that the respectable wing distance themselves from it. The
Green Party had already revealed it was vulnerable to this sort of
pressure when Trevor Sergeant had gone on air to attack the Catholic
Workers after they had disarmed the same US Navy jet that he had
praised Mary Kelly for attacking days earlier!. The secret police were
presumably telling McDowell that they reckoned that even those
trotskyists whom he so hated were unlikely to actually do anything.

The Irish state gambled and won. For the most part the anti-war
movements reacted to the government ignoring the huge Feb 15 march
and the fine speeches by organising more marches and more speeches.
When the small minority who were Grassroots Network Against War
took the only logical route and called for mass civil disobedience at
Shannon, things went like a dream for the government. They played the
violence card and won big time. Not only did the NGO's and respectable
parties queue up with the bishops to denounce the planned 'violence', so
too did McDowell's dreaded trotskyists. Gleeful laughs must have
echoed around government buildings on the last day of February when the
news came through that Sinn Fein was telling people to stay away from
Shannon the next day for fear of violence.
Among activists

In advance of the war there was a lot of 'look at how big the
demonstrations are before the war' talk from activists, with the
implication that the outbreak of war would make them even bigger. I
reckoned this was unlikely. The demonstra - tions before the 1991 Gulf
War in the US were bigger then those during it. Before the First World
War millions demonstrated and it took three years of horrendous
bloodshed before opposition once more reached the pre-war peak. This
isn't surprising. When war breaks out all those who opposed it because
they reckoned it was bad for the national interest will end up backing 'our
troops'. As it is, many of the 100,000 who marched on F15 will wonder
why they bothered. They marched, the government ignored them and that
was that. The (wrong) lesson that many may take is that marching is a
waste of time.

We could have called the government's bluff. All we had to do was show
them that allowing refuelling to continue was going to meet with actual
resistance. Out of the initial arrests at Shannon last year there were no
charges - obviously the state hoped the issue was just going to go away.
They were then willing to arrest and process ten or so at a time, probably
aware that this was a good percentage of those who had declared a
willingness to act. But could they have survived arresting 100's or even
1000's in order to allow refuelling to continue? We have not only let a real
opportunity slip through our fingers, the government has also managed to
bring refuelling into the public sphere. It is perhaps fitting that the last
GNAW action at Shannon to date was based on finally burying the well
rotten corpse of Irish neutrality.

*Months later, after the March 1st action, the cops did finally decide to
prosecute these people.

**After March 1st, some GNAW activists initiated a letter, eventually
signed by hundreds of Irish trade unionists, to the Shannon workers
asking them to take some sort of action and pledging our support if they
did so. Ironically, this was the first such attempt. as the trotskyists, who
had done so much talking about Shannon workers, had not even done
something as basic as this to encourage them to act.

*** Full details are still online at:

More info

The IAWM's dismal leadership" A critique of the politics of Trotskyism
by Dec McCarthy
After months of regularly attending the Irish Anti-War Movement's
marches and particularly after months of listening to the speeches of the
leading lights of the IAWM my head is buzzing with cant and rhetoric
and I have that dejected feeling you get when you know you have just
lost a chance that won't be coming around again for a long time.

* Stop refuelling at Shannon warport (the protests in Ireland)
* Stop the 'War against terrorism' (General coverage of the war)

1 For example, the Spanish CGT called a 24 hour general strike against
the war: http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos11616.html

2 Quoted in the Irish Voice,

3 http://struggle.ws/wsm/news/2001/shannonDEC.html

4 http://struggle.ws/wsm/news/2002/shannonAUG.html

5 Eon Dubsky was convicted of criminal damage to a US warplane. He
spraypainted anti-war slogans on it at Shannon in Sept. 2002

Shannon/DA Timeline

December 15th 2001: 1st Grassroots protest, Shannon airport (70 ppl)

August 17th 2002: Grassroots protest, Shannon (70 ppl)

October 12th 2002: first IAWM protest at Shannon (350), Grassroots
mass trespass (150)

October 27th 2002: GNAW formed at Grassroots Gathering 3, Belfast

December 7th 2002: IAWM march,Dublin (750)

December 8th 2002: Grassroots protest, Shannon (350)

January 4th 2003: Establishment of Peace Camp at Shannon.

January 18th 2003: IAWM march,Shannon (2500)

January 29th 2003: Mary Kelly disarms US warplane.

February 1st 2003: Catholic Worker 5 disarm US warplane.

February 15th 2003: National march against war in Dublin (100,000)

March 1st 2003: GNAW attempts mass direct action (300) IAWM
march (800) Both at Shannon

March 20th 2003: War officially starts. IAWM 10 minute work stoppage.
GNAW activists & others blockade Dáil.

Saturday 29th March: IAWM march, Dublin (15,000)

March 31st 2003: Grassroots protest buries Irish neutrality, Shannon

April 2nd 2003: IAWM blockade of Dail (800)

April 7th 2003: Bush and Blair meet at Hillsborough, Northern Ireland.
IAWM protest (2000)

April 9th 2003: Baghdad regime falls, Televised war ends.

April 12th 2003: IAWM march, Shannon (470)

Note: this list is by no means comprehensive. There were many other
protests and vigils at Shannon airport and marches, school walkouts and
smaller direct actions around the country. This list focuses on those
protests which are mentioned in the articles, deemed particularly
significant, or which involved direct action. The estimates of attendances
are the editoral comittees.

This page is from Red & Black Revolution
(no 7, Winter 2003)
Print out a PDF file of Issue 7

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Workers Solidarity Movement

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