by James Quigley
"Shall we weep, moan, rend our garments, cover ourselves with sackcloth and ashes? Shall we sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of republics? Shall we cower in the shadows and sing glamorous dirges for the 'Lost Cause', for vanished glories and broken dreams?
Or shall we come out fighting, unbowed, heads high, laughing fools to scorn, rejecting at every turn the moral authority of murderers and thieves to rule our lives or determine our reality or act in our name? Let's dispense with lamentation - give not a single moment to that emotional indulgence - and get right back to work, more determined than ever to bear down harder, dig deeper and excavate the radioactive nuggets of truth still glowing beneath the slag-heap of ruin." Chris Floyd, Nov 5, 2004, 'No Ways Tired'.
A national demonstration took place in Dublin yesterday orgainised by Dublin Says No. According to the organisers it was 'A Non-Politically Aligned People's Movement Event' and they called on the people of Ireland to stand together, united against: Evictions, Homelessness, Water Charges, Soaring Rents, Repossessions, Health Cuts, Slave Job Schemes, Child Poverty, Hospital Waiting Lists, Patients on Trolleys, Suicide Epidemic, Socail Injustice, Mass Emigration, Income Inequality, Pensioner Poverty, Politicl Pay & Pensions, Corportate Tax Avoidance, TTIP/CETA, Natural Resources Fleeced." In short a demonstration against austerity measures that have been dished out on the Irish people.
Mr Paddy Healy described it as "a great first step" and said "Maith Sibh go Léir! Congratulations to the participants and to the organisers of the demonstration to-day. It was fitting that it took place on the anniversary of the first meeting of the First (all-Ireland) Dáil . The statement read by Pól Ó Scanaill, National Organiser of the 1916 Societies, was truly inspiring!"
Despite realistic criticism by some marchers and comments on facebook about the size of the attendance at the demonstration, credit indeed must go to the organisers for pulling off this feat at all. Not only was the group of activists operating with scant financial resources but they were up against quite an array of obstacles not least the lack of support from most of the main leftist actors in the present day Irish political scene and some so called progressive forces such as Right2Water Ireland and it's controlling unions.
There was a comment in Right2Water Ireland's facebook page which summed it up, one I wholeheartedly agree with. The comment queries why a notice about the demonstration was put up only 2 days prior to the event. It stated "Mr Ogle you should have gotten behind this protest a lot sooner by advertising on Right2Water's page, all hands on deck for every protest it's the only way we are going to get proper results"
This event marks a defining moment, in my view, a concrete example of a division and lack of unity in left/radical politics in Ireland today. It is one of agenda driven, top down, personality centered protest. This national demonstration was a strike at bringing back the power of protest to ordinary people, a 'bottom up' approach which, apart from the obvious, seemed to be trying to create an effective, united and non-political aligned people's movement.
As such this demonstration was successful and we hope it is indeed the first step.
While armani suited Sinn Féin TD's were in town on the very day of the protest, discussing unity in their 'Toward a United Ireland' event, it was ironic that in reality they practiced disunity by not taking part in such a people's national demonstration. They neither supported it nor did they acknowledge it, not even a little mention in their multifaceted media outlets.
Finally it is depressing to think but it has to be mentioned and the question asked why the Irish left parties such as People Before Profit and Anti Austerity Alliance were noticeably absent from the demonstration and indeed why they did not support it wholeheartedly and call for support for such a people's power protest.