Building a Mass Democratic Anti-War Movement

by Michael O'Brien, Irish Anti-War Movement steering commitee THE 15 February demonstration in Dublin is a clear indication that the movement against war in Ireland has now reached mass proportions. The mobilisation has gone well beyond the usual parties, groups and activists and has been embraced by tens of thousands of people from cities, towns and villages throughout Ireland many of whom have never before being involved in political activity. Already, on foot of a meeting of various anti war campaigns, a variety of activities are in train for the coming month. These include a further protest in Shannon on 1 March, a protest at 6.00pm in every town and city centre the day the war begins; the call for a ten minute protest in workplaces, collages and schools the following day at noon and bigger protests in the regional centres the following Saturday. The tactics for the Shannon protest on 1 March need to be seriously discussed. The Socialist Party will continue to argue strongly that the power to impede the use of Shannon by the US military lies in the hands of the workers in Shannon above all else. The building of a strong popular sentiment against the war can be crucial in pushing the trade unions, especially SIPTU, to defend and back workers who refuse to facilitate the US military. A trespass of the runway and further individual attacks on warplanes are, without doubt newsworthy and a source of embarrassment for the Irish establishment but are not the key initiatives that will succeed in ousting the US military. This new potential also presents new challenges for the Irish Anti War Movement and the other campaigns around the country. While some individuals and parties have done very important work over the last months, in reality the IAWM is only now being really established with this significant influx of people into activity. The success or failure of the IAWM will be judged primarily by how many new activists it can involve in the movement. A broad campaign is not just a collection of parties and organisations, it is one that has real roots in the communities, amongst students and in the workplaces. The Socialist Party believes the IAWM has enormous potential. We believe new local groups should be established around the country where currently there are none. In Dublin despite some activities the local groups have up till now not been strong enough to exist as independent entities. Post 15 February they should be reconstituted in a coordinated way at public meetings in the next weeks and anyone who has joined the campaign from that area be formally invited to participate. There the activists can decide what activities they should do and who should represent the local group on the central steering committee. This open and democratic approach is absolutely necessary in order to take account of the changed conditions of the last weeks and in order build the IAWM as a really broad campaign. If the reconstitution of the IAWM in Dublin is resisted by groups on the basis that strong local groups already exist, that would represent a politically sectarian view and would cut across the potential of the IAWM. Similarly the national steering committee must also reconstitute itself so that it becomes representative of the new anti war groups springing up around the country. As it stands it is somewhat Dublin centred and dominated by the political affiliates. Socialist Party members will be to the fore at steering committee and local level in arguing for a democratic and inclusive Anti War Movement and for stepping up its strategic orientation to the organised working class.

Created By: Brian Cahill