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category international | eu | feature author Thursday December 11, 2003 09:50author by Indymedia Ireland Editorial Group - Indymedia Ireland Report this post to the editors

Voices of Dissent emerge as the Irish EU Presidency Approaches


The concept of the EU is still a popular one in Ireland as is shown by the detail of the results of a recent poll on the EU. It is a far less popular concept generally in Europe as is shown by the headline results of the self-same poll. This bodes ill for the ongoing negotiations on a draft EU constitution taking place at present in Italy.

The broad popular movement represented by the European Social Forum has advocated a Europe wide civil society rejection of the way in which Neo-Liberalism is consecrated as an official doctrine in the proposed Constitution as it now stands. The Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements has instead called for a Europe 'based on the recognition of social, economic, cultural and ecological rights'.

Ireland will hold the Presidency of the EU in the buildup to the planned ratification of an EU Constitution in May 2004 and it seems inevitable that Ireland will become a battleground for these opposing conceptions of what Europe is and should be.

Domestic critics of the proposed EU Constitution on both the right (National Platform) and left (Democracy and Public Services in Europe Group) have begun to make their voices heard and it seems that the battle of ideas that raged during the Nice Treaty II debate will most likely be joined again at some point next year when a referendum on the new Constitution is held in Ireland. Watch this space!

Upcoming DAPSE Meeting: Sat 13th Dec
Upcoming 'Another Europe is Possible' Meeting: Sat 13th Dec

author by rory hearne - globalise resistancepublication date Thu Dec 11, 2003 12:30author email rhearne at tcd dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Letter of invitation to first meeting of ‘Another Europe is Possible’

Saturday, December 13th at 2pm in the Teachers Club, 36 Parnell sq, Dublin.

As you are probably aware Ireland takes over the presidency of the EU for a six month period beginning in January 2004. This will involve the Irish Government spending millions of euros on hosting summits of the EU Commission, meetings of the Council of Ministers, OECD Ministerial meetings and possibly a meeting with George Bush and the EU heads of state.

Many groups and individuals from all over the Island of Ireland will want to organise initiatives during the six month presidency and it was proposed at the final plenary of the Irish Social Forum in October to set up an alliance that will try to bring together the maximum number of groups and individuals to co-ordinate common initiatives during the EU presidency.

The EU is increasingly promoting the agenda of neo-liberalism, racism and privatisation (through enshrining them in the new constitution) and war (through the creation of a European Army). This is fundamentally an anti-democratic process as it runs contrary to the wishes and needs of the people of Europe. At the recent European Social Forum that took place in Paris over 50,000 delegates from all over Europe called on all social movements to mobilise against this Europe of neo-liberalism and war (especially on May 9th –the proposed signing date of the new EU constitution).

The Irish government is proposing to make competitiveness one of its key objectives during the presidency and is also promoting Ireland as the role model for Europe to follow. However, we propose that social rights and opposition to Fortress Europe, militarisation and war should be put central to an alternative Europe.

We hope that you are interested in getting involved in this new alliance that will bring diverse groups and individuals together from all over the Island of Ireland in order to co-ordinate common events such as days of mobilisation to bring the maximum number of people together to call for a Europe of social rights in a world without war.

The proposed name of this new alliance is ‘Another Europe is Possible’. The first meeting will take place on December 13th in the Teacher’s Club, 36 Parnell sq, Dublin. Supporting this initiative so far are Patricia Mckenna (MEP), Paul Dillon (President UCD Student’s Union). Also Barry Nevin (Chairperson, Civil Aviation Branch Dublin Airport), John Bissett (Community Worker), Richard Boyd Barrett (Irish Anti War Movement), Andy Storey (Development Studies, UCD) and others will give introductions at the meeting. The meeting is an open discussion of what the alliance can do during the EU presidency. I hope that you can make it and can bring along interested colleagues and friends.

Rory Hearne

author by John Meehanpublication date Thu Dec 11, 2003 13:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Across the EU various parts of the left are co-operating to oppose the EU Constitution and contest the EU Parliament Elections in June 2004.

Among the organisations that have signed the EACL declaration are the irish Socialist Party.


The 7th Conference of the European Anti-Capitalist Left took place on the
10 and 11th of November 2003, in Paris.

After Lisbon, Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Copenhagen and Athens, the Conference
has shown the continuity and development of the radical Left in Europe.
Members present: Red Green Alliance (RGA, Denmark), Socialist Alliance (SA,
England), Socialist Workers Party (SWP, England), Scottisch Socialist Party
(SSP, Scotland), Revolutionary Communist League (LCR, France), Left Bloc
(BE, Portugal), Alternative Space (EA, Spain), Zutik (Basque Country) The
Left (DL/LG, Luxemburg), Movement for Socialism (MPS, Switzerland),
SolidaritieS, (S-S, Switzerland), Party of Solidarity and Revolution (ÖDP,
Guests: the Socialist party (Ireland), Socialist Party (England),
Synaspismos (Greece), Party of Communist Refoundation (PRC, Italy), United
and Alternative Left (Spain), German Communist Party (DKP, Germany),
Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ, Austria).

The agenda of the Conference dealt with four points: (1) Discussion and
decision on the draft EU Constitution; (2) The political situation, the 2004
European elections and the role of the European Anti Capitalist Left; (3) A
discussion on the European Social Forum in St.Denis/Paris, (4) Adoption of
the political statement “A different Europe is possible! A different
European Left is necessary!” (see below).

A different Europe is possible! A different European Left is necessary!

For the first time in 20 years, a counter-offensive has been launched to stop the disasters that are threatening us: war, neoliberal policies, and ecological catastrophe.
Millions of workers, men and women, young and old, organised in a multitude of grassroots movements, trade unions and parties or simply unorganised people, have, by the hundreds of thousands or even millions, occupied the streets and launched massive strikes, sometimes paralysing the state machinery. In the space of three years, the atmosphere has changed. A different world is possible.

In Genoa in July 2001, they tried to crush our movement with fierce repression; but the movement survived and bounced back. In November 2002 60,000 young and not-so-young people from the whole of Europe converged on Florence to lay the foundation stones of a new European social movement. The next day a million demonstrators launched a warning to our rulers: no war! Hands off our rights! Three months later, on February 15, 2003, there were tens of millions of us around the world fighting to stop the barbarism of war. Last year in Florence and this year in Paris/St.Denis, the European Social Forum is providing an organised form, social cohesion and a political direction to this extraordinary explosion of energy and creativity.
This planetary uprising for universal peace took on the character in Europe of a continent-wide plebiscite: facing the EU, people voted for a different Europe, from below, founded on a revolt of the exploited and oppressed in all the member countries.
European big capital has made no mistake about it: its attacks have redoubled in all the member countries and on every front, despite this strong, increasingly coherent opposition.

No to the multinationals’ constitution! Yes to a different Europe – a peoples’ Europe, democratic, social and peaceful!
Fifteen governments are about to impose a constitution from behind closed doors on 450 million people! The so-called Convention – a select club operating behind closed doors – has taken the place of a constituent process, based on a mandate coming out of the sovereignty of the peoples of Europe. This is a break with the entire parliamentary tradition that had grown up since the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries!
Instead of the Social Europe they promised us, they are imposing a European Power on us, founded on wars (the 1991 war on Iraq, the Balkan wars throughout the 1990s, the new US war) and economic conquest (the fall of the USSR and then Eastern Europe).
We say no to this EU constitution and no to this neoliberal EU.

This constitution is dangerous.

First, it consecrates the absolute primacy of the market; it legally forbids any infringement of private property or market relations. It refuses to give legal status to social gains that have been won on the national level through a century and a half of workers’ struggles: basic social rights, laws on working conditions, labour contracts, trade-union presence and intervention within workplaces, the right to strike, freedom of association.... While it centrally supports and institutionalises the functioning of capital, it leaves labour standards decentralized on the national level and makes them obsolete at the European level! This will lead to systematic, no-holds-barred competition among the wage earners of the different member countries and within each country.

Second, budgetary constraints (institutionalised in the Maastricht criteria) will drastically reduce social benefits and hamstring public economic policy. With this as the starting point, systematic privatization of public services and social security will become “inevitable”, because public services will be “unaffordable”. Industrial and financial capital will thus gain a vast, very lucrative playing field. The super-rich will get richer. Working people — workers, youth, the unemployed and casualized, women, immigrants, etc. — will pay the price. In the past 50 years, social inequality has never been as great as now.

Third, the constitution confirms the EU’s semi-despotic, undemocratic character. The real political power remains in the hands of the governments (the European Council) and to a lesser extent the Commission. The European Central Bank is totally independent, functions in total opacity, and is accountable to no one. The European Parliament is not comparable to national parliaments: it doesn’t legislate, adopt the budget, or choose the executive. The constitution doesn’t recognise the multinational character of the member states that deny the right to self-determination of the “nations without states”, in the name of the territorial integrity principle. Admittedly, the EU is a complex structure. But one thing is clear: power in the EU does not emanate from the citizens or peoples, but from governments! That’s the world upside down!

Fourth, the constitution does not recognise citizenship rights, including the right to vote, for citizens of a third country residing in a member state.

Finally, the constitution legally obliges the EU and its member countries from now on to reinforce their military capabilities and act in close cooperation with NATO. This legal obligation will be a bonanza for the military-industrial complex. This is the road to European-style militarism. The “European defence” that France, Britain and Germany are pushing for confirms their political will and shows the space they want to occupy: inside the imperialist system, alongside the USA.

We say no to this Europe; we struggle for a different Europe: social and democratic, ecological and feminist, peaceful and in solidarity.

The responsibility of the European social-democratic Parties
Nobody and no organisation that claims to be on the left can agree with the contents of this constitution.
Yet European social democracy and the Green parties have already taken sides: their response will be “yes”. True, they say, it’s all far from perfect, but it’s the lesser evil and we can improve it.
They put forward three justifications to make us swallow this bitter pill: the EU is an advance over the past, so therefore undermining it means falling into nationalism, European wars, etc.; the EU and particularly the European Commission are defending the “communitarian” dimension of Europe, “therefore” they’re helping the European trade-union movement; and the EU must become an economic and political and therefore military force in the world so as to provide a “counterweight” to the United States.
This “lesser evil” is eating away at politics like a cancer.
In its name, the social democratic parties have swallowed the European bosses’ neoliberal programme and the EU’s steady backwards march. Applying this program on the governmental level has led to the deep demoralisation of the world of labour and the trade union movement. The social democratic parties are profoundly discredited because of the loss of the popular layers in society. This leads us to reject entry into a government with social democracy on the basis of their neoliberal program.

The social democratic parties have not even tried to stop this infernal machine, prevent the neoliberal counter-reform and block this undemocratic European apparatus. They have not even tried to achieve unity in action with the ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) and mobilise on a European scale. It would have been easy for them, especially since at the decisive moment for the EU in the late 1990s social-democratic parties were running 12 out of the 15 governments and dominated the main EU institutions (the Commission and Council).
Today, in opposition, the social-democratic parties are trying to erase their recent balance sheet. But the world of labour, women, young people, immigrants and the rest of us haven’t forgotten the pain that the social democrats have inflicted on us. Blair and Schröder, still in power today, are around to remind us what their true social democratic policies are. The largest Green parties have chosen that road. Joschka Fischer, German Minister of Foreign Affairs and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a key player in the European Parliament, struggle to align all the Green parties behind the neoliberal constitution and the European superpower.

Rebirth of social and labour movements
The “global justice” movement has broken this 20-year-old impasse, creating a left alternative and a perspective for liberation. A new political generation is mounting the barricades. In the last few years in countries including Italy, France, Britain, Greece and Spain, millions of workers and young people have marched shoulder to shoulder in antiwar mobilizations and workers’ struggles. This movement, international from the beginning, has quickly become a reference point in society and a rallying point for a multitude of social forces and organizations. It has given birth to a worldwide antiwar movement on a scale never seen before. At the same time, in Florence, it laid the foundations of a new European social movement. Today the ESF is on the threshold of a convergence with the world of labour in the “rich” countries by taking up two fundamental social issues: the exploitation of labour and the oppression of women.

Compared with the EU, bosses and ruling classes, most of the leadership of the traditional trade-union movement is lagging worryingly behind, in particular the European Trade Union Confederation. Where are the European gatherings, the European responses, the European action programmes, the European actions and strikes and the European strategy that we need to resist the transnational, internationally organised bosses? Why was there no European strike against the war when all the peoples of Europe were taking to the streets of London, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam and Madrid on February 15? How can we fight to win this “different” Europe?

We will need a new mass social movement, a profound renewal of the trade-union movement and a new citizens’ movement to fight the key upcoming battles.

The 2004 European elections
The EU constitution is an issue concerning us all. But the EU is doing everything to avoid the only true test: letting the peoples of Europe decide about Europe! Some governments are even too scared to hold a referendum!
In reality the EU is staking everything on the June 2004 European elections so as to smuggle its project through.
We say: what petty grafters!

We will transform the June 2004 European elections into a huge mobilizing campaign against the EU’s reactionary and regressive constitution and for a different Europe; against neoliberal policies and for an anti-capitalist programme; against imperialist war and European militarism and for peace and general disarmament, starting out in our own countries. Country by country, we aim to provide a strong anti-capitalist alternative which is broad and pluralistic, in order to fight for the European social movement’s demands and perspectives.
Yes, we can have a different Europe — if all the social forces that have mobilised these last four years fight for their demands and programmes in the streets and at the ballot box, through mobilisations and elections.

For the first time in 25 years a huge oppositional, internationalist, anti-capitalist milieu is emerging on a world scale, to different extents in different countries. Nobody and no political party is capable of co-opting or manipulating this proud, conscious force. Yet the fear of being co-opted and manipulated is there. The best way to ward off the danger is to seize political space, and make a collective intervention in the battle during these elections based on the social movement’s central demands, which have already been brought to life in the European Social Forum. Otherwise we risk an absurd outcome: while the social movement fights on the ground, the traditional parties of the neoliberal left walk off with the political “conclusion”.
We need a different European Left!

We need a new political force: anti-capitalist and European
Faced with the traditional Right, which is increasingly aggressive and reactionary, faced with a far Right that is racist and a threat to democratic freedoms, and faced with a social-liberal Left that is totally devoted to the policies of the ruling classes, we need a political alternative that takes up the aspirations of the social, anti-capitalist left. It’s up to the tens of thousands of men and women, young people and old, workers and citizens engaged in the movement and mobilizations to build this new anti-capitalist force for the radical transformation of society. Nobody else can do it in their place. Giving up on the job out of inertia, suspicion, hesitance or incomprehension would mean giving a green light to endless reruns of social-liberalism — which would be a disaster. We have to work together on a radical, unitary and pluralist basis.

The European Anti-Capitalist Left wants, without arrogance, to make a contribution to this project. We are not something different from the social left; we are an integral part of the social left. We have been in the social movement and “global justice” movement from the start, building it and strengthening it.

Our project reflects the different motivating forces inspiring the social movement: anti-capitalist and ecologist, anti-imperialist and antiwar, feminist and grassroots, anti-racist and internationalist. As an alternative to capitalism, we seek a socialist, democratic society, self-managed from below, without exploitation at work or oppression of women, founded on sustainable development as opposed to a “growth model” that threatens the planet. As a strategy, we have a social orientation, very concerned with working people’s daily lives: we demand a stable, fulltime job, a living wage, a liveable social benefit in case of unemployment, sickness, disabling conditions or retirement, the right to housing, education and professional training and quality health care, for everyone. This requires undoing neoliberal policies and breaking with capitalism: (re)developing public services, recasting government budgets and redistributing wealth from capital to labour. In short, in order to reach our social objectives we propose to take all necessary anti-capitalist measures, including replacing private property with social property.

Only a new political and social force on a massive scale across the European continent will be able to impose our social demands and realise our hopes for a better world. A “different Europe” is possible, but a different European Left is necessary.

The following organisations signed this Declaration in Paris, on November 10-11, 2003:

Scottish Socialist Party (SSP, Scotland)
Red Green Alliance (RGA, Denmark)
Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR, France)
Left Bloc (BdE, Portugal)
Socialist Alliance (SA, England)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP, England)
Socialist Party (SP, Ireland)
Socialist Party (SP, England)
The Left (LG/DL, Luxemburg)
Alternative Space (EA, Spain)
Zutik (Basque Country)
United and Alternative Left (EUiA, Catalonia)
Movement for Socialism (MPS, Switzerland)
Solidarities (S-S, Switzerland)
Party of Liberty and Solidarity (ÖDP, Turkey)

author by Indymedia Ireland Editorial Group - Indymedia Irelandpublication date Fri Dec 12, 2003 01:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors


author by surfingpublication date Fri Dec 12, 2003 18:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Over 10 million Catalans speak Catalan without official recognition.
and over 20,000 people signed a petition :
There are regretably signatures like "Pope, Carson Simpsons etc".

To: Dáil Éireann - Irish Parliament
Is é ár n-éileamh go ngairfear teanga oifigiúil oibre de chuid an Aontais Eorpaigh den Ghaeilge.

Le meas,

Muid, a chuir ár n-ainm le seo.

We demand that the Irish language be declared an official working language of the European Union.


at http://www.petitiononline.com/gaedhilg/petition.html.
go sign.
European languages are Europe.

go look at this _really_ interesting site by the Finn Panu Petteri Höglund who studied in Ireland a while.

is maith liom freisin: http://www.geocities.com/faolchu.geo/cataloinis.html

author by statisticianpublication date Fri Dec 12, 2003 20:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

and ripples on the rockpool
of .ie land.
Now some of you have been less than honest about your identities:
uimhir 21163. Higgo
is that the best you could do deputy?
uimhir 21156. Dara, you don't usualy put your qualifications on a petition but I'm sre you're proud of the "Ph.D". well done & gurbh maith agat.
uimhir 21099 Aidan "Smoker". well really.
uimhir 21007 Deirdre the surname would be good.
likewise uimhir 20988, great comment Cian add your surname.

sign @ http://www.petitiononline.com/gaedhilg/petition.html
(let's top 30,000 by weekend)

author by Mael Sechnaillpublication date Fri Dec 12, 2003 21:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's just not a working language of the EU, just like the rest of the Minority Languages.

I'm not singing that stupid petition. There's enough waste and corruption in the EU as it is.

Related Link: http://www.eblul.org/wow/
author by John Meehanpublication date Fri Jan 02, 2004 23:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Another Europe Is Possible – Report of a Meeting

On Saturday December 13 2003 a meeting with the title “Another Europe is Possible” took place in the Teachers’ Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

Rory Hearne of “Globalise Resistance” and the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) issued invitations to the meeting.

Introductory Speeches were made by Barry Nevin (Chairperson of the SIPTU Civil Aviation Branch in Aer Rianta); Paul Dillon (President University College Dublin Students’ Union); Richard Boyd-Barrett (Irish Anti-War Movement and SWP); John Blisset (Rialto Community Worker).

This is a personal report by John Meehan. Other people who attended the event are welcome to add comments clarifications and corrections.

The room was crowded - I estimate the attendance at around 60-65.

The organisers collected contact details from everyone who attended, and have circulated an account of what took place. It has been placed on the Irish Indymedia site.

No attempt was made to go around the room and ask each person to identify themselves, and say what organisation(s) they belonged to (if any). Consequently, I can only make a rough guess about the political balance of the meeting.

A sizeable group of SWP members and supporters were present; in addition to that, activists who participate in the following groups and parties were present : Democracy and Public Services in Europe (DAPSE) ; Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC); Alliance for Choice (AFC); the Irish Social Forum (ISF); the Irish Anti-War Movement; the Labour Party; Sinn Féin; the Green Party; the Socialist Party. In many cases, the categories overlap.

Rory Hearne (Globalise Resistance, SWP) started the meeting.

The following proposals were mentioned :

• Forming a co-ordinating group
• Agreeing a calendar of events
• Public Launch of the Alliance/Coalition

The first speaker was Barry Nevin, chairperson of the SIPTU Civil Aviation Branch in Aer Rianta.

He pointed out that, unlike CIÉ, Aer Rianta had not been a drain on taxpayers – it was a profitable company. The Government proposed to break it up into three parts based on individual airports – Dublin Shannon and Cork. Since 1998, the company has been a “PLC”, and the true owner is the Minister for Finance. New legislation means a worsening of conditions for employees of the company.

A debate is taking place on the building of a second terminal in Dublin Airport – big profits will be made by whoever is warding the contract for building it. But private interests are not interested in running and maintaining the terminal – that does not produce a profit.

Ireland has the lowest airport charges in Europe; the budgets being proposed for the individual airports are too low to maintain existing standards.

A new word is being used : “de-merger” – this is only privatisation by any other name.

Barry concluded with a call for mobilisation against these Government privatisation proposals.

University College Dublin Students’ Union President Paul Dillon, who asked where Education was included in the draft European Union Constitution, followed him.

If it was included, that implied further privatisation of a public service, and we should oppose this.

He endorsed the proposal of the organisers to “spoil the party” the Irish Government was planning for the European Union Presidency.

On the Irish “model” or example for new member states : “God Help” the Eastern European newcomers if they follow the Celtic Tiger model.

Personally Paul was in favour of the European Project, - he felt that overall it had a positive impact – but there were serious problems with the undemocratic features of the European Union – unelected bodies had too much power; the European parliament was effectively “castrated”.

Richard Boyd-Barrett contested Bertie Ahern’s claim to be “anti-war”, and that the major Dublin march on February 15 last was somehow in support of Government policy.

This was a sign of the Government political weakness; after that march, the Government’s popularity ratings fell by 9%. Ahern is worried at the prospect of different strands coming together to oppose their policies.

The large scale of events in Prague and Seattle was stressed, as well as the |Dublin campaign against the Bin Tax, and the large demonstrations in Ennis and Nenagh against threatened hospital closures.

It was necessary to build a coalition against Bush’s “corporate agenda”.

John Blisset, a community worker from Rialto, followed. He stressed the positive experience of being in Florence for the European Social Forum (ESF); we should base ourselves on the principles of the World Social Forum. We should tap into the resources of the ESF, and do the same thing in Ireland.

Tenants in Rialto had gone through an exhaustive process of community consultation about a flat complex in the area – but at the end of it, the Department of the Environment had rejected these proposals in favour of Public Private Partnership. It is clear that the state wants to remove existing tenants and repopulate with private occupants.

The chairperson, Rory Hearne, then repeated the proposals floated by the meeting’s organisers, and discussion began.

Ivana Bacik (Labour Party candidate in the European Elections of June 2004) asked who should we be targeting? While the European Union had some negative features, it also had some good points. The Government the Progressive Democrat/ Fianna Fáil Coalition - is using the “Bologna Process and an excuse for its own right wing domestic agenda.

The draft European Union constitution contains good things as well as bad things.

Raymond Deane of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) spoke in favour an alliance. He highlighted an agreement between the European Union and various dictatorships around the Mediterranean, for example Tunisia. Economic favours are being offered – in exchange, these dictatorships collude with the European Union t restrict the free movement of people.

Brendan Young of Democracy and Public Services in Europe (DAPSE) summarised the threats to health Education and Culture contained in the draft European Union Constitution. At some stage, the Government will seek approval of this document in a referendum. A recent survey indicates that 73% of voters were favourable to European Union membership in Ireland, so we face a big “hearts and minds” issue here. We need to go beyond the existing anti-capitalist movement.

We should discuss how an “over-arching” campaign will be constructed.

Deirdre de Búrca, a Green Party councillor, responded directly to some of the points made by Ivana Bacik. We need to look, in detail at what the European Union Constitution says. Many social democratic and formerly left wing parties are “in denial” over the attacks on public services that are driven by the European Union.

Kieran Allen asked us to look at what kind of Europe we want. He suggested that the Boston/Berlin debate proposed by Mary Harney and others was fake. We should look at what we do during the Irish European Union presidency, and what we do after the six moth period was finished. The European Union Constitution referendum may not take place until after June 2004.

Mary-Lou McDonald (Sinn Féin Dublin candidate for the European Parliament in June 2004) said the new constitution was being promoted under two guises :

1. Simplicity
2. Efficiency

Concerning enlargement, we need to express solidarity with the smaller countries that are joining the Union. It was vitally important not to work with narrow racists and xenophobes, and we had to be careful about the language we use.

The Constitution – as it is worded now is unacceptable.

Owen McCormack (member of the Busworkers’ Union and the SWP) referred back to Barry Nevin’s description of the Aer Rianta workers’ struggle; he also detailed the involvement of the multi-national Connex in LUAS- this firm had recently lost a license in England to run part of the Railway Service because it failed to abide by safety laws. Cut-backs in pension provisions were a European wide issue.

Brendan Butler spoke of the need to accommodate unity and diversity on these issues. Concerning the European Union Constitution, he suggested we should first highlight the issues, the bad content in the draft Constitution – and then explain that because we are opposed to these provisions we are against it. We should do it the other way around – now very few people know anything about it – a big educational job is ahead of us.

Andrew Blackmore (a representative of striking Oxigen workers in Dublin) spoke about how difficult it was to fight on the Union recognition issue. The workers had been tied up in rules and regulations. Picketers had been harassed and physically attacked. Oxigen is set to take over the emptying of the black bins as well. He appealed to householders to stop putting out the green bins.

Barry Finnegan (interim convenor of the Irish Social Forum) stressed the importance of an open dialogue process. He described the way the recent Irish Social Forum Co-operation and Solidarity Summit in University College Dublin was build. It worked well because of this process.

At meetings, everybody introduced himself or herself, said who they were, and so on. Tasks were organised by breaking up into smaller committees, which maximised efficiency. A committee did not control the process – everybody was empowered. Minutes were taken, distributed regularly by e-mail and via the Indymedia site, meetings were held at a regular time and place, and so on.

A similar structure was needed for this campaign.

A second Irish Social Forum Summit is planned for March or April on “How Does the European Union Constitution Affect You?”.

Richard Boyd-Barrett agreed with the tactical approach suggested by Brendan Butler regarding the European Union Constitution; we should base ourselves on a simple programme. We could “work on the structure later”, but he suggested the structure of the Irish Anti-War Movement was “as good a model” as any.

This exchange started a discussion, which brought significant political differences to the surface.

Rory Hearne’s minutes summarise the final decision in this way :

“It was agreed after some debate that the form of the organising committee should be that it is open to all participating organisations/movements and to individuals that are able to contribute. The following people/organisations were nominated. All nominations are subject to ratification by the relevant organisation and/or acceptance by the person in question.”

That is fair enough – we meet again on January 2 2004.

I share the views expressed by Barry Finnegan at this meeting. The organisational structure of the Irish Social Forum – and before that the Alliance for a No Vote during the 2001-2002 Abortion referendum campaign, as well as various forerunners –are the way forward.

There is one point raised during the discussion at this meeting that I wish to answer in a personal capacity.

In the campaigns listed above minutes were regularly produced which contained a record of decisions; this meant that a) people at subsequent meetings could refer directly to the record on what was decided; b) that people who could not attend each and every meeting were kept informed of what was happening; c) people knew who had volunteered to do a job, and whether (or not0 it had been done, proved impractical, the person concerned had slipped up, whatever; d people knew ho had attended various meetings and how representative they were (or were not); e) because the meetings were, as far as possible, regularly held at the same time place and venue, it was easy to link up with the campaign.

Objections were raised to wide circulation of minutes with a list of the attendance; this was dubbed by some speakers as“witch-hunting” or a “McCarthyite” practice. There is no logic in these claims.

Circumstances do arise where individuals do not want the fact that they attend particular meetings to become public knowledge – in such cases arrangements can be made to protect an individual’s right to privacy – for example, where such publicity could endanger a person’s probationary period at work.

However, this does not arise in the vast majority of cases – for example, it is very well know, not least in the pages of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) newspaper, that Bríd Smith is a member of this party – indeed I understand she is contesting the forthcoming local elections for her party, and the very best of luck to her.

An accurate attendance list tells the reader how varied the meeting(s) are {or, are not], and conveys a message that the campaign is (or is not) a front, or glove puppet, of another organisation. And that is a very important reason for including these details in circulated minutes.

I conclude this report with a document compiled by Des Derwin on how united campaigns should be structured – I believe it is a model that “Another Europe Is Possible” should follow.

Campaigns: rules of engagement

The left should consider the elaboration and promotion of a model modus operandi, along the lines below, for joint work by the left in single-issue and limited-issue campaigns, struggles, strikes and solidarity action, and movements (trade union and rank and file bodies, community groups, the women’s, gay, anti-war, ‘anti-globalisation’ and green movements, etc.). For convenience all this joint activity will be referred to as ‘campaigns’.

The principles underlying joint activity in ‘campaigns’ should be cooperation, activity, realism, unity on issues of common agreement, non-sectarianism, equality, democracy, independence of the ‘campaign’ and openness to all individuals who support the aims of the campaign.

It is understood that agreed guidelines like the following are no guarantee against the actions and inactions of organisations and individuals. Still less can prescriptions designed to avoid the negative produce a high degree of positive effort or commitment from any participant in a campaign.

Some of these, or similar and shortened, guidelines should be written into a Standing Orders where possible and appropriate. They are not comprehensive or watertight against various interpretations, and are not meant to be taken absolutely literally or to apply universally to the wide and complicated world of left politics. The guidelines are intended for ‘campaigns’ though they can be adapted for broad political formations, such as socialist alliances, or intermediary bodies, such as social forums or anti-capitalist leagues.
United operations of organisations/parties (on major issues such as Nice or the War) should allow for a) representation of independents/non-members on the steering committee, and b) the active involvement of non-member activists on the issue: the coalition should have its own active organisation (a known place/mechanism to turn up and participate)*.
Campaigns etc. should be initiated by a properly circulated and broadcast call to a preliminary discussion meeting at which the general approach is up for a wide-ranging discussion. Only then should steps be made to getting convenors, committees and policy platforms.
No party should have a majority on the steering committee.
Meetings should be held at a regular place and time (to avoid convention and suspension at the inclination of any one group).
The convenor should be an independent (for the same reason) or, where an independent is not available, preferably from none of the main organisations.
Minutes should be kept (of decisions especially) of steering committee meetings and ‘ruling’ general meetings and circulated soon afterwards (especially by e-mail).
In relation to local groups or new branches of a campaign or alliance those supporting the campaign will agree:
All public meetings will be called under the name of the campaign.
The details of all public meetings and initial local campaign meetings will be forwarded by the organisers to the steering committee (or the main campaign meeting**) a week in advance so that all the contacts available in an area can be notified and speakers may be provided if needed.
Speakers at public meetings of the campaign/alliance will reflect the broad make-up of the campaign and the various tendencies that support it.
Except in very big campaigns and bodies, local groups will probably not be needed in Dublin. The Dublin meeting can organise for the whole city or certainly the city centre and the nearer suburbs.
The regular meeting of activists will be the ruling body (for a Dublin or other single town-based campaign) or (for a countrywide campaign) the steering committee in between regular delegate or general meetings.
Contact lists and attendance lists should be taken away by the secretary only. After meetings they should be given to the secretary. If the secretary is a member of a political group the lists must be available to all committee members and trusted activists. It should become established that party members departing unauthorised with the list will not be tolerated.
For single-issue, individual-membership, broad campaigns, trade union rank and file groups, community organisations, social movements, etc., the body should be clearly non party political and open to members of all political parties and of none. Spokespersons, speaking for the campaign, should not speak for their party at the same time. Where possible the officers, especially the convenor, the PRO, the secretary and the treasurer should be independents.
It should become established wisdom that under no circumstances will a political organisation use a campaign’s membership or attendance list to contact people for party events and recruitment purposes.
In limited-issue, individual-membership, broad campaigns, political bookstalls should be prohibited. In such campaigns we do not expect supporters to be revolutionary socialists. Political literature may be sold at the door. In certain campaigns a mixed table of political literature on the subject of the campaign or movement might be agreed.
* Initiatives based on (at first anyway) calling the left groups together are not excluded. There should be a place for true ‘united fronts’, the organisations uniting and acting through their own organisations.
** Bearing in mind that often the campaign is Dublin based or begun, and that the Dublin committee or regular Dublin meeting of activists often acts temporarily as a kind of ad hoc motherhouse.
Des Derwin
July 2003

author by aidan smokerpublication date Thu Apr 21, 2005 20:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I do actually exist

author by Dave Curran - UCD Global Action / UCDSUpublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 02:10author address author phone 123-4567890Report this post to the editors

I can confirm he does indeed exist. He is a friend of mine, and a member of Global Action society in UCD. He spends alot of time in the Physics department, likes smoking and is a very fine fellow altogether.

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