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.