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Mayday marches in Ireland

category ireland / britain | the left | news report author Tuesday May 04, 2010 17:12author by Various - WSM - personal capacityauthor email wsm_ireland at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

Reports, images, video and audio from the 1st of May demonstrations in the Irish cities of Dublin, Derry and Cork republished from the WSM site.

Arthur Scargill leader of NUM during 1984 Miners strike speaks in Dublin (audio below)
Arthur Scargill leader of NUM during 1984 Miners strike speaks in Dublin (audio below)

Spirit of May Day flourishes in Derry in spite of dinosaurs   

In a development that may well herald the gathering of momentum in the fightback against cuts and job losses in Derry and the north west, around 100 people marched to celebrate May Day, on Saturday May 1st. This was the first such march in the city in 8 years, and with a hundred plus people taking part in a march, and greater numbers at the rallies before and after, it was regarded as a successful event.

The march had been called by the Derry Trades Council, with the support of unions NIPSA, UNITE, Unison, the FBU, the INTO, GMB and the NUJ, and coincided with the conclusion of the Biennial Conference of the NI section of the ICTU in Derry. However the march itself was attended largely by rank-and-file members of the unions, community activists, local campaigns and political groupings such as the IRSP, the SWP, members of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the SP, Organise!, the Workers Solidarity Movement and others. Prominent at the march was the locally organised grassroots Communities Against Cuts.

A significant force in the preparations for the event  was the SWP co-ordinated People Before Profit (PBP), whose candidate in the forthcoming Westminster elections is veteran Trades Unionist and activist Eamonn McCann. Astonishingly, given his central role in the organising and his ability to deliver an inspiring and eloquent speech, McCann did not speak at the rally afterwards. Instead we heard  some speeches of varying quality by some Trades Union full timers. And inspite of the high spirits of the march itself, the only real inspiration from the platform came from a very upbeat and defiant local Communities Against Cuts activist, Pauline Mellon.

The explanation for Eamonn McCann’s absence from the platform , it emerged, was that he had been ‘disinvited’ from the platform by the Derry Trades Union Council leadership who had come under pressure from Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin had objected to McCann’s presence on the platform on the grounds that as a Westminster candidate, it would give him an unfair advantage over theirs. Sinn Féin, not satisfied with an offer to have their own speaker on the platform, threatened to disrupt the rally if McCann went ahead and spoke, so the DTUC relented and his invitation to speak was withdrawn.

The march itself was a spirited and colourful demonstration of the range of issues, groupings and interests represented, spearheaded by a samba rhythm and guitar musical squad led by Paddy Nash. The music and vocal chants of  “they say cutbacks, we say fightback” and “defend every job, fight every cut” gently rocked a city that otherwise seemed to be slumbering through a jazz festival while in the throws of a recession.w


Created with flickr slideshow.

 

Clarification

Clarification: My article above could give the impression that an invitation  had been issued to Eamonn McCann as People before Profit candidate, and then withdrawn. Eamonn McCann, as one of the Derry Trades Union Council (DTUC) organisers of the march, had been an original nominee of DTUC on the platform. Also asked to speak on behalf of DTUC was a SF member of DTUC, who however declined. It was later that DTUC asked McCann to step down as speaker. Neither speaker would have been there speaking on behalf of their political parties. It was not a case of either Sinn Fein or People Before Profit being invited to nominate speakers to the platform.


Mayday in Dublin

This year May Day fell on a Saturday, meaning that the Dublin march would take place on the day itself. Almost a wash-out (owing to two hours of quite heavy rain right before the demonstration) the march was essentially going through the motions of a Dublin May Day from beginning to end.

This year May Day fell on a Saturday, meaning that the Dublin march would take place on the day itself. Almost a wash-out (owing to two hours of quite heavy rain right before the demonstration) the march was essentially going through the motions of a Dublin May Day from beginning to end.

Owing to very poor advertisement that led to much of the promotion in advance of the march being Facebook led, and thus the whole event going over the heads of most working people, the turnout was something in the region of 400 individuals, with a contingent of WSM members and other anarchists present. A particular banner, which has begun making regular appearances at trade-union demonstrations, called for NO NAMA, NO CUTS AND NO ICTU SELL OUT. From talking to trade union members on the day, two things were clear. Firstly, a belief that May Day should be a large show of strength from our movement and isn't at present, and secondly that a huge gap has emerged between the trade union leadership and the rank and file membership, with many feeling sold-out by the decisions of leadership in recent weeks, not least owing to the 'Croke Park Deal'.

While Arthur Scargill (President of the British National Union of Miners during their year long strike in 1984) is such a larger than life presence, another speaker received a wonderful response yesterday. A speaker from the Migrant Rights Centre spoke of the terrible employment conditions that migrant workers endure in this country, and the need for our movement not to stand for any divisions on the ground of race or background. In the midst of an economic recession that has handed lifelines to the far-right in many European countries, there is an urgent truth in this.

In 2007, a large May Day march in Dublin was followed by a bookfair at the Custom House and a day of Trade Union events. All this happened as a result of a large push in advance of the rally. Like many European cities, where May Day can bring out thousands of workers, we need to push for the Dublin demonstration to be a show of Union strength, and a day when ordinary workers come out behind their Union banners and demand that our Unions fight on our behalf.

 


Created with flickr slideshow.

"As we walked down O' Connell Street, I commented that it's not often that I walk behind the police- they usually follow me!" -Arthur Scargill.

This audio recording from the Dublin 2010 Mayday opens with some comments from those present on the organisation of this Mayday followed by Arthur Scargill's address. He concentrates on the need for the unions to be ready to break the law and giving the example of the Pentonville 5 who defied the laws and forced the British queen to pardon them after 2 million workers went on strike after they were jailed.  The audio ends with an introduction to the anarchist history of Mayday. Listen to the audio


Mayday in Cork

Cork's May Day public activities began at 12 noon at Solidarity Books when Noel Murphy of the IWU spoke on workers' rights in Ireland today, followed by a very informative question and answer session. The audience then repaired across the road to the beer garden of Fionnbarra's (thanks once again!) to share a community meal prepared all morning at Solidarity Books by a hard-working volunteer crew as well as salad and cakes brought by generous Cork socialist activists.

After the multitudes were fed, back at Solidarity Books Claire McCarthy of Nasc gave an overview of migrant workers' rights today. She was followed by Joe Moore of the Cork Anti-Racism Network who talked on Racism in Ireland today - a class-based perspective, and the afternoon's programme of talks was concluded by James McBarron of Cork WSM who spoke on the partnership process, its legacy and the state of the Irish trade union movement today. All of the talks were followed by lively discussion and questions to the speakers, and all the day's talks were well-attended, which made for a little bit of a crush at times.

There followed a fancy-dress march from the bookstore on Douglas St. over to Lapp's Quay to join up with the IWU-organised main march at its starting point. The numbers attending the march this year were down a bit on last year; this was perhaps due to the march being on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend, the 'pro-capitalist' showery weather, or maybe this was symptomatic of the demoralisation Irish working people must surely feel when the big unions' leaderships which should be defending their interests instead capitulate to the government and attempt amongst other betrayals to sell the Croke Park 'deal' to a public service workforce already punchdrunk from assaults to their pay and conditions of service. In any case the May Day marchers paraded proudly down the city's main streets to Daunt Square once again, to remind friend and foe alike that there are working people who remember well how the few rights and freedoms the common man and woman still enjoy today were won, who won them for us, and how dearly they were paid for.

The May Day marchers then listened to short speeches from elected representatives, local political activists and spokespersons from several campaign groups active in Cork. Among those who spoke were city councillors Ted Tynan(Workers Party) and Mick Barry (Socialist Party), James McBarron (Workers Solidarity Movement), Alan Davis (Cork Women's Right to Choose), Anne McShane (Hands Off the People of Iran) and Ray Hanrahan (Cork Shell to Sea). This was then followed by Jamie on guitar singing and playing the 'Internationale' and DJ music in the square for an hour or two afterwards. There was also a free rock gig organised by the IWU (& allies) at the Spailpín Fánach on South Main St. tonight, which wrapped up Cork's 2010 celebration of the heritage of the global working-class liberation movement. 

Also, we wish to remember a friend and visitor to us in Cork from Oaxaca/Chiapas in Mexico, the late Alberta 'Bety' Carino, who was murdered by right-wing paramilitaries this week. We honour her memory and grieve over her loss to her people and to us, half a world away but part of the same struggle which unites us all in blood and love.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Related Link: http://www.wsm.ie/mayday

Mayday in Cork
Mayday in Cork

Mayday in Derry
Mayday in Derry

Embedded Video Description: Video of Dublin Mayday and part of Arthur Scargill speech



Dublin Mayday 2010 including Arthur Scargill speech

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