Kieron Barry reviews 2003, a busy year for Irish Anarchists

Anarchism on the Move

2003 saw a big upsurge in anarchist activity across the country. A small but growing number of anarchists are building opposition to the status quo based on the politics of freedom and equality. We want, and know it is possible, to create an alternative to the politics of bluff, lies and shady deals. Justice will not fall from the sky- it will have to be fought for here and now. That's why anarchists are involved in a wide range of campaigns and are active in the day-to-day struggles of our communities and in our workplaces. We also know that to build a different society requires imagination and initiative and so we are not content simply to criticise what is- over the past year we showed what can be achieved through grassroots democracy and direct action.

Throughout the year anarchists were busy organising meetings, demonstrations and direct action against the war. The main focus of this activity was the use of Shannon by the US military on the way to wage war on Iraq. Anarchists and other activists decided to publicise this fact and undertook to stop the misuse of Shannon. A peace camp was established and following the smashing up of a military plane by Catholic Workers and Mary Kelly, and other security breaches during demonstrations, three of the four carriers responsible for shipping the US military through the airport temporarily pulled out of Shannon. The government responded by deploying the Irish army and riot police at Shannon to defend the use of a civilian airport by a foreign army in a "neutral" country. Anarchists were also involved in a series of actions against Top Oil, an Irish company that directly benefits from servicing the US war machine.

In Dublin when the council tried to impose a bin tax as the first step to privatising the service, direct action was once again the order of the day. People all over Dublin, including anarchists, set about resisting the non-collection of bins through blockades, demos and pickets. This has, so far, stopped the full implementation of the bin-tax.

Predictably, the state has victimised activists involved in these campaigns and a lot of energy and time has been put into the defence of those dragged in front of the courts. A group called Anarchist Prisoner Support has been established to offer solidarity and support to those imprisoned for their political activity.

Irish anarchists took part in the protests against the G8 in Evian and the EU in Thessaloniki and the WTO in Mexico. The mistreatment of protesters arrested in Thessaloniki resulted in five of them going on hunger strike and there was a welter of activity internationally, including Ireland, to put pressure on the Greek state to release the prisoners. This was successful and the protesters are now out on bail. A demonstration at the Italian embassy was organised to mark the second anniversary of the killing of an anti-capitalist protester in Genoa and in solidarity with the protesters in Evian. Anarchists also attended the Irish Social Forum, which promotes discussion and debate about globalisation.

Reclaim The Streets threw three street parties with a point in 2003 and the police response to dancing in the streets was muted in comparison to 2002- no Garda riot, just over the top surveillance. The Mayday party was so successful that it inspired some of Dublin's inner city residents to launch their own version of RTS.

The CAZ provided a space for Cork radicals to discuss and plot by the lovely Lee. The organisers of the CAZ are currently look-ing for a new venue. In Dublin the Magpie squatters transformed, with a bit of imagi-nation and hard work, a derelict house into a home, a library and a social centre where people can meet and organise. Towards the end of the year Belfast anarchists opened up a series of temporary squat cafes.

2003 also saw workplace and union activity including support for firemen on strike in the north, Palestinian and Latin American solidarity work, anti-corporate initiatives, anti-racist activity, eco-activism, the de-fence of archaeological heritage in Carrick-mines, lots of free grub courtesy of Food Not Bombs, events held by TCD and UCD anarchists and the UCG ecology society, the defence of the commons on the old head of Kinsale, the formation of a new anarchist group, Organise! and the further development of alternative media. And if all that sounds a bit too worthy there were a load of social events as well- gigs, cabaret, films, the annual anarchist summer camp and anarchist picnic and hundreds of people attended the three Grassroots Gatherings held in Limerick Dublin and Galway for the workshops, debates and booze.

To build on the successes of the past year and ultimately to build a genuine anti-capitalist, non-hierarchial movement we need more people to get involved in 2004. So find out about anarchism and help us build an alternative to a world dominated by greed through solidarity and direct action.

To get in touch with Irish anarchists, see the list of events and contacts on page 6.

See also The anarchist movement in Ireland

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This edition is No79 published in Jan 2004

Workers Solidarity 79