Below is a report on events at the protest at the Labour Party conference in Galway city on April 14th. The report was produced by the anarchist Workers Solidarity Movement who, despite obvious political differences, we regard as honest and sincere comrades. The contributors to this blog were present at the march & protest but did not witness the events described below at the actual conference centre itself. We did notice people heading in that direction from the main rally point but the first we heard about the pepper spraying was when Ruth Coppinger of the Socialist Party (SP) attempted to dissociate the main body of the demonstration from those at the conference centre, without even defending those attacked by the police.
The Red Badger contributors feel this incident highlights the desperate need for functioning internal democracy within the CAHWT as Coppinger presented herself to the crowd as a campaign “organiser” when in reality she had no authority to speak on behalf of the campaign on this matter. The SP is of course free to disgrace itself by not defending victims of state violence out of deference for ‘law & order’ [Edit – Paul Murphy, Socialist Party MEP, rightly condemned the use of pepper spray in a later radio interview.] but they should refrain from presuming to speak for the CAHWT as a whole. While the ‘disturbance’ was minimal in scope this time, and the level of police brutality not terribly severe, such incidents nevertheless demonstrate the need for the campaign to take seriously the threat of state violence and the issue of self-defence.
Anger flares in Galway at Labour Party after protesters attacked with pepper spray
Saturdays Household tax demonstration in Galway at the Labour Party conference saw angry scenes after Garda attempted to keep the protesters out of sight and sound from the conference venue. Students who were being kept off their own campus were particularly annoyed and led a push against the Garda barriers during which several of them were attacked with pepper spray. They did however succeed in removing the barriers with the result that around 1,000 of the 4,000 or so Household tax demonstrators were able to march to the door of the conference center to protest in full sight of the Labour party delegates inside.
We encourage people to support this rally if they can. The Red Badger contributors fully support the right of women to have access to free and safe abortion on demand. The event’s Facebook page can be found here.
Tomorrow (March 30th) is Palestinian ‘Land Day’. We encourage people in the Dublin area to support the events listed below and would like to take this opportunity to express our solidarity with the working and poor people of Palestine and our uncompromising opposition to Zionism.
The Palestinian community in Ireland will be holding a picket outside the Israeli Embassy, 122 Pembroke Road, March 30th, from 11am to 12 noon.
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be holding a vigil at the GPO, March 30th, from 4pm to 6pm.
We would like to echo the support & solidarity offered by the Socialist Party to the brave GAME workers currently taking a stand by occupying 13 GAME stores throughout the country. The Red Badger contributors fully support the demands of the GAME workers. They are a tremendous source of inspiration, just like the La Senza and Vita Cortex workers, and the thousands of people involved in the Campaign Against the Household & Water Taxes.
By uniting such struggles the working class can defeat the EU/IMF-imposed austerity agenda currently being implemented by the Dublin government.
We are pleased to publish an article by a reader of the blog based in Britain. We agree with most of the criticisms made of the Occupy movement in the piece, particularly those relating to its middle-class nature and the limitations this imposes upon it.
Occupy movements have sprung up all over the world attracting large swathes of society, and while we see homeless people, the unemployed, regular workers through to concerned clergy, hippies and even disaffected bankers affiliating themselves with this trend it is largely middle-class in character, at least in Britain and Ireland anyway.
We have posters reading ‘Reform Now!’ and projections telling us to ‘Occupy your mind!’. There is a strong bent towards education, with a library and ‘tent university’ at St Paul’s. They even have a regular newspaper, ‘The Occupy Times’. General assemblies are held: everyone with a right to speak, some on the left could learn here, and democratic votes are held to solidify positions. Anti-violence is key, as the protesters seem to be on the whole very media savvy and PR aware. But how dedicated are these protesters to the eradication of poverty? Is their cleverness and education of the right sort, and are they really the 99%?
On October 5th around 8,000 health workers belonging to Unison held a twenty-four hour strike against the Stormont executive’s cuts to health and education services in the name of “austerity”. “Edwin Poots the Boot into Health!” read one banner at a picket in Belfast.
The Unison members are to be commended for beginning to take the sort of action that is needed in order to defeat the attacks on vital services and working people’s living standards.
Hopefully this is just a taste of what is to come on November 30th and beyond.