What is the Dublin Grassroots Network?
A brief look at the who, what, why and how of the DGN
In the run up to the Dublin 2004 Mayday protests, the Dublin Grassroots Network suddenly leapt to prominence and almost became a household name. However, despite all the coverage, there was little examination of the nature of this network that organised most of the Mayday protests. This text briefly describes the network, where it came from, who is involved, how it works and where it is going. For those who want to find out more or get involved, we hold fairly regular public meetings and details are always posted to Indymedia Ireland
What is the Dublin Grassroots Network?
Dublin Grassroots Network is a network of activists and groups who come together to fight for a better future, based on the Grassroots principles (see below). Many of us come from campaigns around specific issues such as environmental issues, the anti-war movement, community work, housing conflicts, traffic campaigning, anti-racism, pro- choice activism etc; others got involved in the run-up to the May Day events. Some of us are anarchists, feminists, socialists, ecologists etc.; others have no particular affiliation. We're part of the Grassroots Gathering, which meets three times a year, and the Grassroots Network Against War, one of the groups that organised direct actions at Shannon Airport.
The Grassroots principles stress a rejection of top-down organisation, solutions which involve ordinary people controlling their own lives, workplaces and communities, and arguing for a sustainable environmental and economic system. In line with this, we do our best to operate in an open and democratic way, where everybody has an equal say. Decisions are taken by the people who turn up to meetings, and things are done by the people who care enough about them to make them happen.
What does DGN believe in?
The groups and individuals involved in this Grassroots Network are united by a vision of a better future, one without bosses or governments, be they in Dublin or Brussels; one in which all local communities are directly run by the people living in them and all workplaces by the people working in them; a future in which everyone has control over their own lives and an equal say in the decisions that affect them.
We are talking not just about receiving an equal share of what is produced, but also transforming the quality of life, doing away with long working hours and increasing free time. We struggle for a genuinely sustainable economy and an end to environmental policies in which every "solution" must be corporate-led and profit-driven.
People like us all over Europe are fighting for the same things. We are taking to the streets not only to build our resistance in Ireland but to forge links throughout Europe. Tens of thousands of people in Ireland have already been involved in resisting the race for wealth that is capitalism, which robs so many of us of our voice, our dreams and our aspirations.
We believe that people should control their own lives and work together as equals. This means that we aim towards a network which:
- Is based on the principle that people should control their own lives and work together as equals, as part of how we work as well as what we are working towards.
- Within the network this means rejecting top-down and state-centred forms of organisation (hierarchical, authoritarian, expert-based, Leninist etc.) We try to sustain a network that's open, decentralised, and really democratic.
- Calls for solutions that involve ordinary people controlling their own lives and having the resources to do so: the abolition, not reform, of global bodies like the World Bank and WTO, and a challenge to underlying structures of power and inequality.
- Organises for the control of the workplace by those who work there.
- Calls for the control of communities by the people who live there.
- Argues for a sustainable environmental, economic and social system, agreed by the people of the planet.
- Works together in ways which are accessible to everyone, rather than reproducing feelings of disempowerment and alienation within our own network.
Who is involved in DGN?
Dublin Grassroots Network grew from the national Grassroots Gathering, which occurs three times a year since 2001. Many of us are involved in the Grassroots Network Against War, which has organised direct actions against US military use of Shannon Airport. There are other local Grassroots Groups in Belfast, Cork and Galway and maybe more on the way!
Some DGN activists are involved in specific groups and campaigns, such as Critical Mass, Reclaim the Streets, Gluaiseacht, Grassroots Network Against War, Workers Solidarity Movement, Direct Action Against Apathy, Food Not Bombs, Magpie Collective, Mujeres Libres, Organise! Alliance for Choice, Anti-War Ireland, Campaign Against the Racist Referendum, Residents Against Racism, Cork Anarchist Group and others. Others have become active through the preparations for the May Day protests. We work together with other groups in Ireland and internationally who organise in democratic, non-hierarchical ways.
How can I get involved?
We don't have any kind of formal membership, so there is nothing to sign and no fee (which doesn't mean that we don't pass the hat round when we decide something needs doing!) Someone is in the Network if they agree with the Grassroots principles and get involved, in whatever way works for them. Different people have more or less time available, think of themselves as good at different things, and care about this or that issue more. And that's fine.
Some people love coming to meetings, others love taking action (and of course it takes a bit of both to make things happen democratically). The BIG rule is that we do things ourselves. It's not anybody else's job to make things happen - so if you think something should be done, the best thing to do is see if other people agree, then get together with a few other people and make it happen.
We have reasonably frequent meetings (as often as we have the energy for them!) as well as a public mailing list with announcements of events etc. We've got this website and often we post up flyers and ask people to print them out and distribute them. So it's easy enough to get involved.