Independent Media Centre Ireland

Mayday Protests; Edited Extracts from the Dáil Record.

category dublin | summit mobilisations | news report author Thursday May 06, 2004 14:09author by reporter

The Government set out to thwart civil rights this weekend. It did it to frighten people away from their democratic right to protest and to keep numbers down at demonstrations against President Bush. It will not work.

Mayday Protests; Edited Extracts from the Dáil Record.

Dáil Eireann; Leaders’ Questions; 5th May 2004.

Enda Kenny (Fine Gael): Last weekend saw an unparalleled level of security and policing on the streets of Dublin. The Government had an obligation to ensure the security and safety of our citizens and visitors from Europe. The ceremonies were very important. The duty of the Government to enforce law and order applies not only when we have visitors from Europe, but for the other 51 weekends of the year also……………………………………………

Minister for Defence (Michael Smith): I thank Deputy Kenny for his complimentary remarks on the security services provided over the weekend. I compliment the Garda, the Army, the OPW and everybody else who was involved in ensuring that a major international event passed off with the minimum of difficulty. It augurs very well for the capacity of our security services to deal with whatever lies ahead in this area………………..

Joe Higgins (Socialist Party): Over the May Day weekend the Government used thousands of gardaí to put a cordon of steel around the Phoenix Park, allegedly to deal with thousands of violent hooligans whom the Government and the usual elements in the press fraudulently claimed were going to cause mayhem on the streets of Dublin.

Did it occur to the Minister that gardaí may have been facing in the wrong direction on the day? The Government had as its guests the prime ministers of the occupation powers in Iraq which were responsible only five weeks ago for the slaughter of hundreds of women and children in Falluja and for the systematic torture and abuse of prisoners. Did it occur to the Ministers that the Government ought to have directed some gardaí to question these prime ministers about war crimes rather than stuffing them with duck, salmon and Château Lynch Bage?
The Government, for the first time in the history of the State, ordered water cannons to be used against demonstrators. Some said this was an over-reaction. In fact, a calculated decision was made that, at the slightest excuse, the Garda would test the equipment which the Government had supplied. When a few plastic bottles and empty beer cans were thrown by foolhardy individuals, and they should not have been-----

Mr. Kelleher (Fianna Fáil): And bricks.

J. Higgins: May I put the incident in context? Some 23 young people were arrested and all have been charged with extremely minor offences. A constituent of mine was arrested because he got off the bus to make his way home. Far more people were arrested at the rally of the lakes in Killarney during the same weekend and it did not take two thirds of the Garda force and two water cannon to take care of the situation. Most of the people arrested at the demonstration were detained in jail until today. One is charged with the serious offence of being in possession of a Garda cap - receiving stolen property.
How can the Minister justify that? Corrupt colleagues of his who have robbed the State of millions have never darkened the doorway of a courthouse, yet the Government treats young people like that. Did it occur to the Government to send the water cannon into the boardrooms of the major banks to flush out millionaire executives responsible for the real theft of €1 billion of taxpayers' funds?
The Government set out to thwart civil rights this weekend. It did it to frighten people away from their democratic right to protest and to keep numbers down at demonstrations against President Bush. It will not work.

M. Smith: Last week in the House, Deputy Joe Higgins was asked to request people who wished to dissent or protest to do it in a peaceful way but he refused, quite blankly, to do that.

J. Higgins: That is wrong.

M. Smith: I am happy to withdraw the remark. The people to whom I have spoken in the Garda and the security forces, everything I have read and people I have met from many different countries have been complimentary of Ireland and of the way the events of the weekend were managed. It is with some regret that I listen to Deputy Higgins decry people who worked overtime-----


J. Higgins: They were paid the overtime.

M. Smith: A number of the people involved gave up their weekend holiday.

M. Smith: Again, I compliment the Garda, the Defence Forces and everyone associated with the handling of a wonderful weekend for this country. No one in this House has the right to decry it or present it in any other way. The problem associated with the dissent of protesters was dealt with in an efficient and speedy manner, with minimal problems for protesters. On behalf of the Government and people, I am proud of the manner in which the security services handled the situation over the weekend.

J. Higgins: For a full month before May Day, there was a deliberate and orchestrated campaign by the Government, members of the security forces and sections of the media to terrify the citizens of Dublin, particularly families, so they would not exercise their right to peaceful protest. This was because the Government was seriously embarrassed on 15 February last year when more than 100,000 people came out in protest against the impending invasion of Iraq. In response to this protest, the Taoiseach tried to convince the Dáil that the 100,000 protesters were virtually card-carrying members of Fianna Fáil who took to the streets to support him. That did not work and will not work on the occasion of the Bush visit when, I have no doubt, massive numbers will want to protest against the outrageous atrocities taking place in Iraq and the disaster which Bush has brought on its people.
The Government campaign is to stop peaceful protest and to do so on the occasion of the Bush visit. This is why the Government brought in water cannon and used them without legitimate excuse, and had a ring of steel around the Phoenix Park. Despite this, I call on the people not to be frightened out of their right to peaceful protest and to come out again in large numbers.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy's time is concluded.

J. Higgins: The Minister said nothing about the fact that 20 young people have been scandalously kept in jail for the most minor of offences. Will he address this?

M. Smith: The Government has no problem whatsoever with peaceful protest.

Comments (42 of 42)

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author by FGwatchpublication date Thu May 06, 2004 14:27author address author phone

And FGers wonder why people see them as irelevent!?

Fair Play Joe! At least there is one man in the Dail willing to be a real opposition!

author by Dennispublication date Thu May 06, 2004 14:52author address author phone

If we want to get the numbers out on the day we must ensure that the government can not manufacture a repeat of the deliberate scare campaign which resulted in attracting the type of trouble they wanted.
We must make it clear to everyone that the intention is for the Bush demonstration to be totally peaceful. To do that we must get all the groups involved in organising the demonstration to agree on tactics as soon as possible. And the only viable tactic this time is total non-violence.

author by conor - yfgpublication date Thu May 06, 2004 15:09author address author phone

we are an opposition- opposed to the shite Joe Higgins comes out with. He has no respect for the Gardai or the rule of law.

author by Joepublication date Thu May 06, 2004 15:15author address author phone

What are you on about Denis?

It was made quite clear in advance of the May protests that all the events in general and the Farmleigh march in particular would be peaceful. And still we get the 'Anarchists plan gas attack' headlines. And still we got sections of the left repeating media divisions into good protesters and bad protesters.

Wake up and put the blame for the media scare where it belongs. On the governments door. Of course they will do the same thing for the Bush visit. Just as they did for March 1st when the media were incapable of understanding the meaning of 'non violent direct action' (as were Sinn Fein, the SWP. the Green Party and the Socialist Party). Just as they did for the two RTS parties that followed the May 6 police riot.

Times have changed and the time of regimented one size fits all protests has passed. You can keep joining in the scare tactics to undermine non violent direct action protests and in doing so cut your own throat. Or you can respect the fact that different groups will adopt different tactics and defend rather than attack those who have different methods than your own.

author by Davidpublication date Thu May 06, 2004 15:18author address author phone

you kill one person and its murder, you kill 10,000 and its liberation.

The biggest criminals and terrorists will be at the Bush Summit in June.

The "law" is irrelevent

author by SP member - personal capacitypublication date Thu May 06, 2004 15:35author address author phone

"He (Joe Higgins) has no respect for the Gardai or the rule of law."

Absolutely correct. Why should we respect the law and the Gardai when they are implementing law that protects the rich and the powerful.

author by Curiouspublication date Thu May 06, 2004 16:47author address author phone

What about Shannon?
Whatever happened to your 'workers in uniform' line?
You'll be back toeing the line before long!!

author by A different SP memberpublication date Thu May 06, 2004 17:36author address author phone

Just in case your questions are seriously meant and not just some more trolling -

The Socialist Party does not support every march or every direct action or every other political action. We decide such things by considering whether or not they will help the overall aims of the movement. We opposed a particular proposal for a direct action at Shannon because we felt that it would play into the hands of the government. A few weeks earlier we applauded the actions of the people who "decomissioned" a US warplane at the airport. A few months later we were to play a central role in the biggest campaign of direct action that this country has seen in a very long time - the anti-bin tax blockades.

It is perfectly reasonable to argue that we should have supported the direct action at Shannon, on the basis that it would help the anti-war movement, although I would on balance disagree with you. There is not however any contradiction between our attitude towards that action and our participation in many other direct actions. For us direct actions are tactics that we evaluate on a case by case basis.

The shorthand "workers in uniform" (to describe soldiers, police etc) is not one that the Socialist Party has officially used in a long time, although individual members I'm sure have on occasion. The underlying argument that the term was a shorthand for remains the same, but the term itself is one sided and gives a misleading impression of our view.

Our view is that soldiers, the police etc play a contradictory role in society. On the one hand they are forced to sell their labour to survive, just like any other worker. On the other hand they are used as the repressive arm of the capitalist state. The phrase "workers in uniform" unfortunately seems to give much greater weight to the first part of that description.

I hope this helps. If you have any serious questions about either of these points I will be happy to deal with them. I won't respond to trolling or abuse however.

author by observerpublication date Thu May 06, 2004 17:41author address author phone

They only used this when they were supporting the British war machine in the north. Apparently the Brits only become baddies when they are far away from Peter Taaffe and "Peter Hadden"

author by gojoepublication date Thu May 06, 2004 17:44author address author phone

Fair play to Higgins.. he's got my vote next election when hopefully those corrupt bastards will be ousted.

author by Joepublication date Thu May 06, 2004 17:47author address author phone

I think there are two different complaints about the SP and March 1st in Shannon.

1. You made the wrong decision. This as you seem to acknowledge above is a matter for debate. The obvious question 'If not now, when?' that was asked at the time remains. Also in terms of your own politics it doesn't make a lot of sense to support the secretive actions of a small group or lone individual and oppose a public call for a mass direct action. But that is water under the bridge.

2. The more serious problem was the way you handled the disagreement. Along with the SWP you worked to undermine the action planned through individual members posting the most alarmist rubbish to indymedia. We remember the warnings coming from SP members of people being shot etc.

Then as people were being arrested one of your leading members (Joe Higgins) was attacking them on the media as 'virtual warriors pulling down virtual fences'. The arrests that day show this to be a lie but in any case it appears that what was going on was on the one hand alarmist predictions of violence and on the other an attack on the protesters for being 'all talk' when our discipline meant that violence never materialised. The sort of crap we saw coming from the Star in relation to Mayday in other words.

People can forgive you for the political disagrements found under 1. What is hard to forget or forgive is the complete lack of solidarity found under 2.

author by A different SP memberpublication date Thu May 06, 2004 19:04author address author phone

The division of the Shannon issue into two separate criticisms is a better way of looking at the argument. Unfortunately it isn't actually the basis on which it normally comes up here. The two are normally intermingled.

That makes it necessary to explain what the Socialist Party's attitude to direct action actually is: We support it when we think it will help take a movement forward, we oppose it when we think it will damage a movement. We opposed the Shannon action in March 2003 because we thought that it had the potential to do serious damage to the anti-war movement and no potential to succeed. That's an assessment that is up for discussion and I have heard perfectly reasonable arguments against it although in retrospect I think we were right.

You seperate from that discussion an accusation that we "worked to undermine" the direct action at Shannon. That's a strange and skewed way of putting it. We opposed that particular action and we argued against it - as we have every right to do, don't we?

When a section of the anti-war movement tries to implement a tactic that we thing will be damaging to the movement as a whole we have not just a right but a duty to argue against it. That goes for people who wanted the anti-war movement to beg forlornly for United Nations involvement or some similar idiocy just as much as it goes for supporters of what we saw as a rash adventure.

We don't believe that each section of a movement should just do what it wants to do and refrain from criticising other sections of the movement no matter what they do. Each part of a movement is interlinked and what one part does impacts on every other part.

So, what precisely are you objecting to?

The examples you give are that a couple of individual members of the Socialist Party argued on Indymedia that the state could provoke violence or just attack the protestors at Shannon. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that nobody officially speaks for the SP on this site, this begs a serious question. Were those SP members wrong to argue that a police attack was a strong possibility? And do people within the anti-war movement not have a right (and a responsibility) to raise such an issue?

The other example you give is that Joe Higgins used the phrase "virtual warriors" to describe the Grassroots Network in Shannon. What he said was: "Those virtual warriors, before they go pulling down fences on the Internet, should really think that the media is out there, sections of it, waiting for a chance to discredit and smear", which colourful language aside strikes me as a perfectly reasonable piece of advice. The media did in fact seize on the plans of the GN to "discredit and smear", didn't they?

In fact, Joe H's brief aside about the rash behaviour of the GN was a tiny part of a much longer speech , attacking the government for allowing the use of Shannon by the US miitary, for scaremongering in the press and for effectively militarising the whole area. Joe H, as always, was well aware of who the real enemy is but that doesn't mean that we are under some kind of gagging order when it comes to criticising the tactics of our allies.

author by Mojopublication date Fri May 07, 2004 10:06author address author phone

"Fair play to Higgins.. he's got my vote next election when hopefully those corrupt bastards will be ousted."

I didn't know there was elections to the troika?

author by Joepublication date Fri May 07, 2004 11:43author address author phone

Nice try but I'm afraid SP members did not simply argue that "a police attack was a strong possibility?" They argued that the army would probably shoot people!! And the 'individual member' thing does not wash, not only were there repeated calls on the SP to clarify their parties position but on other occasions when individual members have drifted off topic its not long before a member of the trokia posts to 'clear things up'.

In other words if you disagree yes it makes sense for you to honestly express this disagreement. This is very different from the tabloid style scare mongering that your members engaged in at the time. Under your logic the Sun could justify its 'Anarchists plan to gas 10,000 Dubliners' headling on the grounds that it didn't want the protests to go ahead.

Your attempt to re-spin Joes words (and I note re-edit them) some 15 months after they were uttered is not convincing. Mind you there is a bit of a history of this in the CWI is there not, some of us still remember when you threatened to 'name, names' in the aftermath of the great poll tax riot.

BTW is the SP still propping up the SWPs anti war front?

author by observerpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 11:51author address author phone

Didnt you know that the EC is the trotskyist equivalent of the College of Cardinals. Way above anything so crude as an election.

author by A dspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 15:11author address author phone

Joe, I went back through the Indymedia archive on the subject before replying to you. It appears that you have managed to build what was said on this site into something of a myth, more powerful than mere reality.

In fact a grand total of two individual members of the Socialist Party took any serious part in the debates on this site around the issue of the Shannon protest in March 2003, (BC and DOH). Neither had discussed their contributions with anyone else in the SP for the simple reason that SP members only ever contribute to this site off their own bat. Both argued that there was a real risk of violence at the hands of the cops and that could seriously damage the anti-war movement.

Looking back through those discussions, one of them (DOH) was putting a very rigid case against direct action which I wouldn't really agree with. Your reference to "shooting" is a distortion of a single sentence in a single post from DOH where he pointed out that with the airport effectively militarised, and with a substantial part of the Gardai there, that the ERU nutcases could well be deployed. That's not an assessment I would agree with but it is hardly a campaign of scaremongering.

Once again on this site, the power of myth to overcome reality is apparent. Trolls and the genuinely mistaken repeat something over and over until what actually happened is forgotten. Then when someone points out the truth they are accused of trying to doctor the past. Go on Joe, take a stroll through the archives. Read what was actually written.

Similarly, you accuse me of "re-editing" and "re-spinning" Joe H's speech. In fact my quote of the single sentence from his lengthy speech which was critical of the GNAW was a direct cut and paste from the Irish Times report. It is a fact that Joe's speech correctly concentrated on the use of Shannon by the US military, on scaremongering by the government and on the militarisation of the airport. He also included a brief aside pointing out the folly of the GNAW playing into the hands of a media just crying out to "smear and distort".

As I said above, the SP does not subscribe to the idiotic philosophy that some other sections of the movement seem to hold to. We don't think that every part of the movement should just do its own thing and refrain from criticising any other section no matter what they do. Every part of a movement is linked and the mistakes of one section impact on all the rest. We will always criticise people, who try to push parts of a movement in what we regard as damaging directions. We will also always remember who the real enemy is. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The complaint here seems to be rooted in a belief that we don't have the right to criticise you when we disagree with you. That all we should do is shrug our shoulders and say "that's their business". The strange thing about that attitude is that it never for one second stopped people associated with GNAW from attacking the strategies of other parts of the movement.

author by Joepublication date Fri May 07, 2004 15:28author address author phone

I think its pretty clear that I'm not arguing you have no right to express disagreement. You might find that easier to argue against but its clearly not what I;m arguing.

I also think its pretty clear that the problems I have are with

1. Spreading tabloid style alarmist rumors about people being shot. This spawned a huge amount of comments at the time and while SP members have the time to point out this was not the party line some 15 months after the event none found the time back then.

2. Calling people virtual warriors
a. while they are being arrested for doing what they always said they would do
b. while they are doing what they said they would do rather than following your absurd predictions of violence.

You can spin all you like on this but you not fooling anyone!

author by A dspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 15:58author address author phone

I think this discussion may be coming to the end of its useful life. You don't appear to be at all willing to actually engage with what I have said. You are just repeating the same claims over and over. Again, I invite you to look through the archive at what was actually said rather than relying on whatever Indymedia myth has obscured your memory.

I am however entertained to see that your objection to Joe's brief comment seems to be less about the the point he was making - that GNAW were playing into the hands of the right wing media - and more about the language he used. We weren't "virtual" warriors we were real warriors! I had been under the obviously misleading impression that you were raising a serious point.

author by Joepublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:06author address author phone

but we seem to be seeing different stuff!

As to your having problems with the 'virtual warrior' point I'll explain it one last time.

In advance of the day SP members predict the GG action will cause all sort of violence.

On the day Joe Higgins denounces the GG for being 'virtual warriors pulling down virtual fences' (ie for not having caused the all sorts of violence predicted).

Damned if you do and damned if you don't it seems.

Perhaps a more recent parallel would help.

In advance of the Mayday the Star predicted the Wombles would be responsible for all sorts of violence. Post Mayday they said the lack of the predicted violence had shown the wombles were frightened away.

Get it yet? Or will you keep spinning?

author by A dspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:14author address author phone

No I get what you are saying, I just can't take it very seriously.

Joe's criticism of the GNAW was not that you had failed to cause mayhem. I mean just think about what you are arguing for a second! His criticism of GNAW - as can be very clearly seen from the full sentence - was that GNAW were playing into the hands of the media's desire to "smear and distort".

The description "virtual warriors" was perhaps a little unkind, but it was a reference to the internet posturing that provided raw material for the media rather an attack on your, ahem, "warrior" status. I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt your pride.

As for the archives, I'm glad that you are looking through them. I look forward to you either admitting that your claims had no basis in fact or producing the actual quotes from SP members arguing that the army would shoot protestors.

author by Raypublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:18author address author phone

Does this mean that adsm (ooh, let me guess) would not be annoyed if Joe Higgins was described as a "self-styled 'socialist'". Even if this description came from a speaker on a demonstration? From someone who was supposed to be on your side?
The Voice gave plenty of coverage to the SP members being imprisoned over the bin charges, and rightly so. What would the reaction have been if, for example, Gerry Adams, had described this as 'toytown politics', and 'playing at civil disobedience'? Your heads would have exploded.

The attitude of SP members to the Shannon demonstrations went far beyond disagreement over tactics. SP members sought to scare people away, and senior SP figures sought to downplay the seriousness of GNAW, making light of their tactics and their treatment. It was reprehensible behaviour, and the time to criticise it (Mr adsm, man of mystery) was 14 months ago.

author by Democratic Socialistpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:24author address author phone

You may be democratic but alas your party is not.

The leading members of the SP (funnily enough, not voted into that position by any means that the rest of us would view as democratic) despise GG/GN.

Without using the archives, I've got one of those things, called a memory. Your leadership hated the thoughts of militant action down in Shannon. Your line on NVDA was no different than the SWP's and that is one of the reasons why your organisation is still propping up the SWP's anti-war 'movement'.
Joe meant the 'virtual warrior' taunt because that is what the leadership of the SP thinks.
So democratic socialist party member have you asked why the SP is still propping up the SWP's front?
Do you not think it funny that your party directs a lot of venom towards the SWP, yet is silent on the democracy of the IAWM.
And you call yourself democratic.

author by A dspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:33author address author phone

Another person associated with GNAW has arrived to make much the same comments, again without engaging with any of the things I have already said. I don't have all day to go over and over the same ground.

Two SP members argued on this website that what GNAW were proposing was a rash and foolhardy adventure. They took this view because they felt that there was a strong possibility of violence (almost certainly started by the Gardai) and that such violence could be very damaging to the anti-war movement. They also felt that the proposals had no possibility of success. They had every right to make those arguments here. I can't imagine that either of you are going to seriously argue that there was not a possibility of violence are you? Instead you just repeat that it was "scaremongering" to argue something that in all honest was fairly obvious.

As for someone calling Joe a "self styled socialist", he's been called a lot worse over the years and he will be again.

author by A dspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:35author address author phone

Sorry "Democratic Socialist" but I don't discuss anything with trolls. If either of the two serious people from GNAW have anything new to say, I will get back to them.

author by Raypublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:40author address author phone

"I look forward to you either admitting that your claims had no basis in fact or producing the actual quotes from SP members arguing that the army would shoot protestors."

Not what was claimed. One of your members said that protesters were in danger because the Garda (not army) Emergency Response Unit would be there, and muttered about remembering Abbeylara.

He didn't come right out and _say_ that protesters would be shot (anymore than Bush _said_ there was an imminent danger of WMD attack from Iraq), but it was strongly implied.

The same member (IIRC) several times asked whether GNAW had sufficient first aid personnel/equipment.

He didn't ask this about the IAWM march, either the one in Dublin or the one in Shannon, just the GNAW demonstration. Again, the clear implication was that people going on the GNAW demonstration would be injured.

We didn't have senior-but-anonymous SP members coming online to criticise this either. But 14 months later, adspm is here to criticise us for being too sensitive.

A common council tactic is to suggest that people who don't pay their bin tax will be dragged to the courts. This is possible, but very unlikely. Of course, when the council do this kind of thing, the SP are happy to call it scaremongering (and they don't wait 14 months either)

Of course, everyone expects their _opponents_ to try to undermine their work by scaremongering. You just don't expect the same thing from people who are supposed to be on your side.

author by Joepublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:41author address author phone

doheochai - Socialsit Party Tuesday, Feb 25 2003, 8:19pm
"there are large numbers of armed plain clothes cops in this region who will be there and it is also likely that the Emergency Response Unit will be redeployed from Limerick (and remember what they did at Abbeylara)"
[Abbeylara was when the ERU shot John Carthy dead]

doheochai - Socialist Party Tuesday, Feb 25 2003, 10:50pm
"The fact that GG appear blinded to the possibility of the cops using violence against the demo because of RTS is laughable if it wasn't so serious. Someone talk about the army not being mobalise to suggest that there would be no guns on the police lines, I was pointing out that this is not the case. It is extremely unlikely that any guns will be involved but accidents can happen and will you and GG take responsibility if people get hurt. There is a difference between being brave and being stupid!"

oheochai - Socialist Party Tuesday, Feb 25 2003, 12:32am
"accidents can happen. Deliberate actions can also happen. It is impossible to predict what will happen if and when the fence is breached"

author by Joepublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:44author address author phone

He was claiming the ERU might shoot people rather than the army.

author by Democratic Socialistpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:47author address author phone

I won't get into personal opinion (no matter how correct I am). I will ask one question.

Why is the SP still on the steering committee of and still in the IAWM?
That's not trolling. That is asking a plain and simple question that other people want to know the answer to.
A recent edition of the Voice had an article denouncing the SWP (homing in on the bin tax campaign), yet you prop them up in the IAWM. Why?

author by Raypublication date Fri May 07, 2004 16:53author address author phone

"Two SP members argued on this website that what GNAW were proposing was a rash and foolhardy adventure."

They went further. They tried to scare people away. That goes beyond constructive criticism, that's doing the state's job. What they did around Shannon is no different from what the tabloids and the gardai did around May Day - hyping up the threat of violence to scare people away.

Why is one bullshit but the other 'responsible'?

"As for someone calling Joe a "self styled socialist", he's been called a lot worse over the years and he will be again."

And if you're working in a campaign with someone, do you expect them to call Joe a "self styled socialist" while addressing a crowd on a demonstration? On a demonstration which you support? While Joe was being arrested? Bullshit.
You wouldn't put up with that shit. Don't expect us to.

author by A dspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 17:18author address author phone

Before I start I have two points to make to Ray:

1) I have no idea who you think I am, but I can assure you that I am not a particularly senior member of the Socialist Party.

2) Joe's precise claim was that "I'm afraid SP members did not simply argue that "a police attack was a strong possibility?" They argued that the army would probably shoot people!!". I was pointing out that this was simply false. Something that I'm sure you accept.

Joe, congratulations on finding a second quote (from the same source) dealing with the possibility of armed cops being present. I missed that one. DOH argued that (A) armed cops would probably be there, (B) that the use of guns would be "extremely unlikely" and (C) that it was not however impossible.

In my view he shouldn't have made that statement. Although there may well have been ERU members held in reserve (I don't know if there were), in the context of the popularity of the anti-war movement I think that the use of guns in any circumstances short of an attempt to burn down Shannon would in fact have been impossible. That's my view, but given events in Gothenburg a year previously I can understand why DOH took a slightly different view.

In Gothenburg, the police attacked demonstrators with baton charges etc. Some protestors did their best to fight back. Eventually the Swedish cops, who had no previous record of shooting at demonstrations, shot three people with live rounds. I'm sure that most of you remember and I'm very sure that DOH did.

So, Joe originally claimed that the Socialist Party argued that "the army would probably shoot demonstrators". On closer examination things appear very differently. One individual SP member argued briefly on a website that there was a very remote possibility that in the context of serious police-provoked violence that armed police could be used. Such an assessment - which was in my view incorrect - was not mad or malicious.

Still, it wasn't put forward by any other member of the SP, in any forum. Nor was it expressed by our party publications. When any other member of the SP commented on the action, the point of view put forward was consistent. We argued that there was a real possibility of the police starting violence and that a ruck could seriously damage the anti-war movement. We also argued that the GNAW plan had no chance of success.

That was the point of view argued here (with two abberations from DOH). It was the point of view argued on other internet forums and it was the point of view argued in our publications. It's that point of view and line of argument that I defend.

author by adspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 17:35author address author phone

I forgot one point when replying to Ray, although really I shouldn't have to make it. He asks why DOH felt that it was more likely that people would be injured on the GNAW action than on the IAWM marches. The answer is simple - the GNAW action was running a much higher risk of police attack or provocation leading to violence. Surely I don't have to explain this.

Democratic Socialist - when you ask a reasonable question you get a reasonable response. The Socialist Party has been involved in the IAWM for a long time. We helped build the organisation and have consistently fought against attempts to dominate it by the SWP. Not always supported by some of the people who are now the SWPs fiercest critics, I might add.

The SP pushed vigorously for a quick General Meeting of the IAWM which could discuss all of the problems with the organisation and hopefully deal with them. That EGM will take place this weekend and a new steering committee will be elected. We are of the opinion that all of the people who have been involved with the IAWM should attend that meeting and argue their case and the case for democratic reform.

author by Raypublication date Fri May 07, 2004 17:37author address author phone

When DOH argued that it was 'extremely unlikely' that the gardai would shoot anyone, he was the only person to bring this up. And he brought it up three times!

When you repeatedly introduce the possibility of a certain event, even if you then say that the event is unlilely, you are planting an idea in the minds of your audience. If I went to a bin charges conference, and three times suggested that the SP _could_ be hiving off money from the campaign (though it was unlikely), people would get the message. If I went on to ask if Joe Higgins will pay back any money embezzled by the SP, if the SP turn out to be embezzling (which is extremely unlikely), I'd be fighting off rabid SP members for weeks.

What, did you never have to study Mark Anthony's speech in school? Have you never noticed how Bush's administration continually suggested a link between Iraq and 9/11, without coming right out and saying it. Pro forma denials just don't cut it sometimes. You're an adult, you know what the word 'implication' means.

And when these implications of disaster coincide with IAWM spokespeople going on radio to talk about GNAW being small and badly organised, and are followed by a leading SP member writing demonstrators off as 'virtual warriors', its no wonder that people conclude that the SP have gone beyond 'comradely disagreement'.

author by Joepublication date Fri May 07, 2004 17:39author address author phone

Well as you have got the argument down to hair splitting (was it the army or cops who might shoot people) allow me to point out that I never claimed what you write above.

That is I did not write "the Socialist Party argued that "the army would probably shoot demonstrators".

I did write

"Along with the SWP you worked to undermine the action planned through individual members posting the most alarmist rubbish to indymedia. We remember the warnings coming from SP members of people being shot etc."

Pretty clearly pointing out that individual members were making the alarmist predictions. In any case as a democratic centralist party you are responsible for what individual members say in the name of the party. And the tag 'Socialist Party' was used in the three posts above. Even us anarchists are careful to either leave out our organisational affliliations or put 'pers. cap.' for personal capacity when we write in our own name! If the statements were not in line with party policy it was up to you to correct this, you had several days to do so. This ''correction' 15 months later is not convincing.

More fundamentally I think Ray makes a good point that can be expanded on. Imagine if during the debate on tactics in the bin tax individual SWP members had started to post that 'The cops will beat people off the streets and maybe even shot them'. Would we have said 'fair enough argument' or would we have accused them of dishonestly seeking to undermine that which they could not stop by other means. Thats a rhetorical question BTW.

But by all means keep digging.

author by adspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 17:51author address author phone

Ray, you are again putting an extremely skewed angle on the issue.

Firstly, DOH did not raise the issue of guns three times. He raised the possible deployment of armed Gardai once. Someone responded to him and he responded again in turn. Those are the two mentions of armed cops that he made. The other quote that Joe dug up in fact refers to the possible use of dogs or water cannon.

He raised the issue once, in my view incorrectly. No other member of the SP ever raised the issue. That does not constitute a campaign of insinuation from him, let alone from the Socialist Party.

I have already dealt in detail with what Joe's speech actually said, not that it seems to have registered with you in the slightest. Would repeating it again help?

I am left with the overwhelming impression that the GNAW, having predictably failed in their direct action, were left casting around for someone to blame. They chose those who told them from the start that they were doing something pointless and dangerous.

author by DSpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 17:52author address author phone

The SP belongs to a International, something, which most socialists (SWP excluded) in this country find amusing but each to their own.

But seen as they do, I wonder what their comrades in other countries think, where there is no real pretence of democracy like there is here of their scaremongering when it comes to Shannon.
What do their comrades in Nigeria do, stay at home, when it comes to protesting? Any answers Matt - the Irish Co-ordinator of CDWRN?

On your reasonable answer:

"The SP pushed vigorously for a quick General Meeting of the IAWM which could discuss all of the problems with the organisation and hopefully deal with them. That EGM will take place this weekend and a new steering committee will be elected. We are of the opinion that all of the people who have been involved with the IAWM should attend that meeting and argue their case and the case for democratic reform."

Either you are lying or you don't know what you are talking about. This is a scheduled meeting. This meeting was due to take place anyway, so stop the grandstanding the SWP didn't put this meeting on because you vigorously pushed for a quick meeting. It's not an EGM.

author by adspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 17:59author address author phone

Two quick corrections:

Joe, I did not misquote you in any way. I refer you to the first two sentences of your posting entitled "re: Another SP member" which read:

"Nice try but I'm afraid SP members did not simply argue that "a police attack was a strong possibility?" They argued that the army would probably shoot people!! "

That was, as I have said, and you yourself have demonstrated utterly false.

DS, you aren't getting another reply from me because you have gone back to trolling. I don't discuss things with people who trade in abuse and accusation.

I will however offer this correction: When the two disruptive members of the IAWM steering committee were suspended, the SP argued for an immediate General Meeting to sort the issues out in March at the latest. The SWP wanted to wait until August for an AGM. Eventually it was agreed that a General Meeting would take place in May. That is now taking place.

author by Raypublication date Fri May 07, 2004 18:09author address author phone

1. At a time when GNAW was organising a peaceful protest against the war, SP members' idea of comradely support is to suggest that demonstrators might get shot or otherwise injured if they took part.

2. When these demonstrators are being arrested for their peaceful protest, Joe Higgins is making a speech to the media and an anti-war protest. He criticises the US government, the Irish government, and who else? Oh yes, some other anti-war protestors.

3. The SP's position on this today is "Gosh crikey, you anarchist chappies do take things seriously, don't you? Its not as if we actually called on the police to shoot you! We're all mates together now, eh? Eh?"

Would the GNAW action have succeeded if the SP had shown some balls? Impossible to know. It is certain that the scaremongering by the gardai, the media, and yes, some 'socialists', probably had the effect on lowering numbers on the day. It is certain that if more people* had taken part the police lines would have been stretched. Perhaps even broken, but who's to know?

We do know this. You could have helped, but you didn't. You didn't even stay neutral. Instead, you undermined, belittled, and impeded the Grassroots action. Thanks a bunch, comrades.

* the people scared away, but also those proud revolutionary socialists of the SWP and SP. People who think the tradition of Connolly and Larkin means not pissing off the police. People who stick Che Guevara's picture all over the shop, but run away from direct action.

author by DSpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 18:09author address author phone

You don't have to answer the International questions, although I'm still sure some of the members of your International would have been amused (and your erstwhile Scottish comrades who protest outside a nuclear submarine base in Faslane in a NATO country) at your actions when it came to March '03.

But you know as well as I do that the IAWM intended to have another meeting before the Bush visit, not August. You are grandstanding as to the fact that you had an input to this meeting being called early. Let's face it the SWP must have had a free date in their diary, that's all. Your propping it up and that will become even clearer tomorrow.

author by adspmpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 18:27author address author phone

The bitterness really is flowing now, isn't it Ray? And it seems that you are intent on proving a point I made to Joe much earlier in the thread about misrepresentations of the Socialist Party's attitude to direct action.

The Socialist Party, you may remember, has a very long record of taking direct action. We were central to more than a hundred (way more, I can't be bothered counting) blockades during the bin tax just last year. Our attitude to direct action is not about "having balls" or whatever other macho litmus test you want to apply. We assess each direct action on a case by case basis. Will it help or hinder a movement?

Our opposition to the GNAW plans in March 2003 was based on two factors. Firstly we were of the opinion that the plan could not hope to succeed. Secondly we were of the opinion that in failing it could give the state an opportunity to lash out at the anti-war demonstrators, portray us as violent thugs and put the fear of God into the thousands of people who were just coming into the movement.

That meant that our attitude to the proposed direct action wasn't just a shrug of the shoulders and a wish of good luck. We felt that the proposals were taking a silly risk with the health of the movement as a whole.

This has nothing to do with courage or "having balls" or any other such foolishness, although that you choose to describe the issue in such terms is in itself revealing about the moralistic rather than strategic thinking that underlies some activists views on direct action. Who cares about the consequences, we are "resisting"!

Now it is perfectly reasonably to argue that we misjudged the likely consequences of the action, but that's a different argument altogether.

author by wagpublication date Fri May 07, 2004 19:29author address author phone

i'm sure that's a direct action everyone might agree with

author by Raypublication date Mon May 10, 2004 13:31author address author phone

" ...the thousands of people who were just coming into the movement."

What thousands of people? Where are they? Did they ever turn up to anything after the war started?

They didn't. The SP's opposition to the GNAW action was always either dishonest or stupid. The war was about to start. When the war started, the possibility of mass protests would stop. (Or have the SP kidnapped all of these protesters?) The time for direct action was March the first, or it was never.

The SP, worried as ever about how the media would portray them, reducing every tactical discussion to the level of "how will it play with our voters in Finglas", decided it was better for Joe to look like the loyal opposition than for the Socialist Party to to do everything it could to end Ireland's involvement in the war. And having decided that, it went on to portray anyone more active and radical as disorganised and dangerous.

But we shouldn't be bitter - after all, all's fair in electoral politics!

author by Anti-War observerpublication date Mon May 10, 2004 14:13author address author phone

I'm sure adspm will be on here shortly to tell us the successes the SP had at democraticising the IAWM at Saturday's meeting.

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