The Workers Solidarity Movement is supporting this action and will be taking part in it as will many other groups and individuals around the island. We would STRONGLY encourage you to come to Shannon and take part, the nature of the plan means it can only work with large scale participation. With war likely within two weeks of this protest this may be the last chance to end Irish involvement before the outbreak of war. You'll find details of some of the buses heading to Shannon for the protest at http://www.indymedia.ie/cgi-bin/newswire.cgi?id=30362
Detailed plans for direct action on March first. A few weeks ago Grassroots Network Against War called a 'direct-action' protest at Shannon Airport. We have undergone a debate within the island-wide network to formulate, in as democratic and open a way as possible, a plan that we can propose to people in advance. Following this process of debate, culminating in a delegates meeting this weekend in Galway, we can propose the following plan.
We will attempt to engage in a mass trespass at Shannon airport. This action will be an example of mass non-violent civil disobedience in the tradition of Gandhi's salt march. It will be a purely peaceful protest. We intend to signal our opposition to US warplanes refueling at Shannon airport and to indicate that we refuse to sit back while our government, acting in our names, gives material assistance to a war that will be both brutal and unjust.
We intend to dissemintate this information widely so that people who come to Shannon on March 1st can make an informed choice as to whether they wish to participate in this action, and if so on what level they wish to be involved. This is not a secretive or elite action, nor are we hijacking anybody's movement. Since calling this protest we have met with other anti-war movements and have always been clear that direct action will be part of our protest on March 1st. Since we called this protest, other anti-war movements have called demonstrations for the same time at Shannon, which will operate on a different basis. We respect their right to organise protests in a manner that they see fit and will continue to do everything in our power to co-ordinate with them to ensure that there is no confusion among or between the protests.
We reject suggestions, carried in some of the media that this indicates a split in the anti-war movement. Within any such broad movement there are a range of different viewpoints on suitable tactics and methods to employ. We see this diversity as a sign of strength rather than division. If others within the anti-war movement wish to distance themselves from any approach that goes beyond symbolic protest, we will continue nonetheless to seek unity of purpose in the movement and respect for diversity of tactics.
Here is the detailled plan for the direct action on the day:
1) The assembly point for the protest will be in the carpark of Shannon Shopping center at 2pm. As soon as the crowd has assembled we will address the crowd and explain this plan again and indicate how people can participate and on what levels they can do so.
2) We will form into 2 sections, one for people that wish to take part in the action (signalled by white flags) and one for people that wish to support the action and show their solidarity but do not wish to take part (signalled by pink flags). These 2 sections will proceed to march to the airport with the white section in advance and the pink section behind.
3) Once inside the airport and parallel to the fence on the main approach to the airport, those in the white section will link arms and form a line, one deep, facing the fence. The pink section shall retreat to a safe distance behind this line to observe.
4) The line will walk towards the fence with arms linked and once we reach the fence we will attempt to pull it down. Once the fence has been dismantled we shall cross it and shall remain in the grass verge on the other side of the fence. We will not attempt to occupy the runway or to reach any planes, the purpose of this action is to demonstrate that the state can not secure the 'warport' against the anger of the people.
Q. What can I do?
For this action to succeed we need a critical mass of people. We need you. Direct action means YOU do it. However, you do not have to be a super brave commando to take part in this action. There are a number of different levels that people can participate on and all of these are important to the success of the action. Everybody has a part to play.
A) Take part in the trespass. Join in the line. Help pull the fence down. Step across the fence.
B) Take part in the line but do not trespass. You can show your solidarity with the action by linking arms and joining in the line but not participating in the dismatlement of the fence and not crossing the fence once it comes down. This would mean that you have not broken the law while still taking full part in the action.
C) Take part in the trespass but not the line. For those who do not wish to be involved in confrontational acts, stay back from the line but engage in the tresspass once the fence has come down and the situation has calmed down somewhat.
D) Be an active observer. You can take part in the action as an active observer by not taking part in the line but observing it and being ready to respond to events, linking up and swarming about to prevent the police from attacking or arresting people. Create diversions, look out for others, chant, sing.
E) Be a solidarity observer. A space will be set aside, marked by pink flags, where people who do not wish to run any risks of arrest or physical commotion can stay and observe the protest, and show their solidarity with those willing to engage in civil disobediane. This is very imporant since the presence of observers makes it much more difficult for the police to engage in violent or aggressive behaviour towards the peaceful protestors.
We should emphasise that, although this is going to be an entirely non-violent protest, those who participate in it do face certain risks. The risks to solidarity observers should be very small, while for those who take part in the line, there is a certain risk of arrest or violence from the police. We believe that, given the current political climate, the state will be very reluctant to be seen to be overly aggressive towards protestors, therefore we do not think that the risks are exceptional. However, it is up to everybody who participates to seriously consider the risks before they take part in anything of this nature.
Together we can do it. We can form a force to free the skies of Clare from the US war machine.
Grassroots Network Against the War. A non-hierarchical network of groups and individuals active against the war, formed at the Grassroots Gathering in Belfast in September 2002.