This was by any standards a remarkable turnout for Dublin. The mood of the meeting was militant and angry, angry with the US war preparations, angry with the Irish governments support for them and angry with the terrorist bombing of New York. It had been organised by the Leninist Socialist Workers Party and their chair opened the meeting by saying the attacks on the US were an "action that has to be completely and utterly condemned".
Speakers at the meeting included Denis Halliday, the one time administrator of the UN 'Oil for Food' program in Iraq who resigned because he considered that program " incompatible with the UN Charter, with the Convention on Human Rights, with the Convention on the Rights of the Child...." Somewhere between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 Iraqis have died as a result of sanctions since the end of the Gulf War. He considered that the rage felt against the West "reflects the fact that we allow absolute poverty throughout the world"
[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement member, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written]
Andy Story speaking for AfRI (an anti-arms trade group) pointed out Naomi Klein's statement that there was "rage at the persistant asymmetry of suffering" in the West's wars against the third world. This would make any military action counter productive even in its own terms. He highlighted the fact that those in the room would be divided on many issues, in particular around the UN and so to maintain unity it was necessary to accept diversity in whatever campaign emerged.
Deirdre de Burca of the Green party emphasised the importance of empathy with those who died and with their grieving relatives. She also read out a definition of terrorism which she had found on the internet which she thought was useful but which I though was dangerous as it included property destruction as terrorism. This would equate the Genoa Black Block with bin Laden, something which many of our rulers are all too keen to do.
Kieran Allen for the Socialist Workers Party said we had to reject the choice between bin Laden and Bush. He pointed out that Bush's cabinent includes people involved in terrorism including one of the US organisers of the Contras (who bombed hospitals and schools in Nicargua). He said the attack had shattered the myth of invunerability that the US had constructed at home, the idea that foreign interventions could be carried out without any loss of US life. The western governments had seized on the attack to push their own agenda which included criminalising dissent and in particular the 'anti-capitalist movement'. One element of the EU legislation had a definition of terrorism which included "trying to overthrow the structures of government".
John de Curcy Ireland was by far the oldest speaker, no one dared to say how old. He spoke about the hypocrisy of Bush and Blair claiming to be Christians but ignoring the bible. More relevantly he talked about his own experiences in the merchant navy after the First World War and how that war had been ended by the German people when the German navy revolted and refused to sail to battle.
Kevin McLoughlan for the Leninist Socialist Party also emphasised sympathy for the victims of the attack. He pointed out that the attack had come on the anniversary of the Chilean Coup of 1974. This made a useful contrast between western attitudes to the war criminal Pinochet and bin Laden. He thought the name to the campaign should be "The campaign against War and Terror" to make it clear that we also opposed the attacks on America.
Around ten to fifteen people spoke from the floor including the writer. I pointed out the lack of publicity for the international Gallup poll that showed the vast majority of people in Europe opposed a military solution. This poll showed the massive potential for an anti war movement but the fact that almost no newspaper had mentioned it showed the level of self-censorship already in place. Other speakers included Irish people who live and work in Afghanistan and Pakistan and a women who was arrested at Shannon airport for praying against the war! She announced that they were setting up a peace camp there, starting at 6pm this Saturday.
Globalise Resistance has already called a demonstration for 3pm this Saturday at the Central Bank off Dame street in Dublin. Many of the speakers mentioned this and said it was vital this demonstration was as big as possible. It seems that a huge amount of people will attend this, it should be one of the largest political demonstrations that the city has seen for some years. Make sure you get along, there should be a very good anarchist presence on this demonstration.
You will find lots of extra information including a link to the Gallup poll at my Stop the War web page at http://struggle.ws/stopthewar.html
This page also includes a number of anti-war PDF files you can print out and distribute