Stopping the war

Polls show most people in Ireland oppose the war, and refuelling at Shannon, yet the government continue to provide support for the US and British war drive. This is yet another demonstration of how meaningless parliamentary democracy is. Unless we are talking of marches of tens or hundreds of thousands we won't frighten the government into a change of policy. If the Iraq war is like other recent imperialist ones - where the actual fighting happens over a period of weeks rather then years - then its unlikely we will see tens of thousands mobilised. There is one way we can stop the war - this is mass direct action.

While a march of 5,000 or even 10,000 in Dublin won't effect government policy, similar numbers tearing down the fence in Shannon and taking over the entire airport would. With those sort of numbers we could physically stop Shannon being used and physically dismantle any war planes we caught on the ground. The government would then have to choose between militarising the airport and arresting hundreds or asking the US to take its war planes elsewhere.

This would have an important direct impact on the war as it's clear that considerable war supplies and troops are moving through Shannon. But in Europe it would also have a massive political impact in encouraging the use of the same methods elsewhere. If even half the 300,000 who marched in London started closing down British war bases then Britain would effectively be taken out of the war.

But it's also not a question of counter posing direct action to mobilising the largest numbers we can. Instead we need to look at how the two can help each other - the media attention received after the last Shannon direct action will hopefully encourage people to go on the Dublin demonstrations. Hopefully the Dublin demonstrations will be used to encourage as many people as possible to head to Shannon to help shut down the airport.

Of course the tactics used also have more general implications for the future. We want to see people take power into their own hands rather then relying on a few good men in the Dáil. A victory on refuelling as a result of a Dáil vote would be a step forward but would have a limited long term impact. A victory on the basis of thousands of people stopping the use of Shannon themselves would transform politics in Ireland.

Joe Black

See also


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This edition is No73 published in November 2002

WS 73 front cover