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Recent articles by Andrew
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Massive National rally of community campaign against new Household tax in Ireland
Saturday's National Rally against the Household Tax in the National Stadium was literally filled to overflowing. As well as nearly 3,000 people crammed into every possible space in the Stadium another 4 to 500 were in the car park at the side, unable to fit into the building. And the thousands who attended were angry, energized and expectant of victory. The National Stadium normally hosts boxing marches but the atmosphere on Saturday topped that of watching a home fighter coming out on top in a close fought bout.
From an hour before the event it became clear rally of the grassroots activists that make up the campaign was going to be huge. Stewards were hearing of additional buses coming from places around the country and the expected buses were starting to arrive, slowing traffic on the North Circular Road to a halt. As people started to stream through the doors a 600 strong march arrived from the nearby districts west of the conference from Rialto, Inchicore & beyond. All 2200 seats were rapidly filled with hundreds more standing in every available remaining space and hundreds more in the car park.
Although a lot of the speaking time was dominated by the politicians supportive of the campaign this was really a day that gave a voice to the thousands of ordinary people whose day by day organizing over the last months is what will give us victory. In the time given over to speakers from the floor many of them expressed both their anger at the government and their belief in victory. There were also several speakers from trade unions and both the Dublin Council of Trade Unions spokesperson and the UNITE speaker said workers who refused to implement the charge should be supported by their unions. It was notable that there was some heckling of a couple of the unions speakers, arising it appears from the sense of many that after the public sector strike and the massive demonstrations the unions failed to act to stop the austerity drive.
After the rally we talked to one of the Workers Solidarity Movement members active in the Wicklow campaign about what they thought needed to be done next to ensure victory.
Q: Joe what can people do in their local campaign groups to make the campaign more effective?
Joe: Where you are involved with your local campaign group, ensure that it meets up regularly and that decisions are made democratically and through discussion, so that people really have a sense of ownership of the campaign. This method of organising actually encourages participation, as people being sent tasks to carry out such as leafleting through an email or text message is disempowering and feels much like orders being given as opposed to a group of people working towards a common goal to benefit themselves.
Q: How do you think things like co-ordination and democracy can work in a campaign of this size and geographic spread?
Joe: Where there is a case in your area where several local groups are looking to work together (probably a county-wide area), and in regards to having representation on the national committee, try to encourage a democratic structure based on recallable and mandated delegate meetings in your county area, and delegates from this grouping to the national committee. The local campaign groups should be open to and made up of all the members of the campaign in a given area, and the membership of the campaign should have the final say on how their local campaign is run.
A delegate is a person who is given a mandate by the local campaign group to convey the local group’s opinions and decisions, and to meet up with other delegates to co-ordinate activities. Delegates should be rotated around the members of the group, and should be instantly recallable if they go against their mandate given to them by the group.
This has been put into effect in the Cork Campaign Against the Household Tax, a report of which can be found at this web address: http://tinyurl.com/6uomhx7
Q: The WSM has put a lot of emphasis on people needing to see themselves as campaign Organisers rather than just activists who turn up to events. What do you see this meaning in real terms?
Joe: Talking face-to-face with your neighbours and co-workers is absolutely key for the ideas of the campaign and boycott movement to spread; often an anonymous leaflet put through a letterbox isn’t enough. To this end, calling around to your neighbours doors with a leaflet to ask them to join the boycott should be a priority activity. However, a small group of activists slowly canvassing a whole town or area will not succeed in time, nor will it grow the campaign or empower people to get involved. Rather, when a neighbour or co-worker is supportive of the campaign, they should be asked to talk to their immediate neighbours and encourage them to get on board, join the campaign and put the “Not Paying” window posters in their windows. This encourages a “chain-reaction” of local organisers who work in their own communities, and encourages self-organisation.
For more information on this method of organising, the “organiser model”, please see the article at the following web address: http://tinyurl.com/79bac6j
Q: There are loads more protests coming up including the march on the Fine Gael conference, how important are these for winning?
Protests and public meetings are fantastic and should be part of any protest movement, but the main tactic that will win this struggle is encouraging a massive boycott of the household tax. This is the only way the tax will be beaten. Also, encourage direct action within your local campaign group, and don’t be afraid to protest inside your local TD’s office!
As anarchists, we think the mass direct action is absolutely brilliant. This campaign has shown so far that people really are capable of organising themselves and their communities, and are taking power back into their own hands from our elected “representatives” and the government who sit in the Dáil. We think that society should be run by those who live and work in it, and that ordinary people are perfectly capable of running society themselves.
Sun 02 Aug, 06:17
People in deprived areas 3 times more likely to take their lives in Northern Ireland 15:36 Thu 13 Sep 0 comments
People in deprived areas in Northern Ireland are three times more likely to take their lives. Health minister Edwin Poots said, ‘Unemployment rates in deprived areas further affect people and this is a major concern. Studies indicate that a 1% increase in unemployment is met with a corresponding 0.79% increase in suicide.
Hundreds of Garda deployed to protect Shell's machine from the people of Ireland 15:47 Wed 01 Aug 0 comments
A huge secretive Garda security operation last night swung into operation in Dublin Port as Shell's Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) left the port as part of a huge convoy of Garda vehicles. News of the operation had leaked at the last minute meaning that with only an hours notice a handful of Shell to Sea campaigners managed to get down to the port entrance despite the pouring rain. Most of us were pulled over and questioned by Garda at least once and the Garda helicopter stayed overhead as various Garda vehicles including a van load of riot cops with the door open drove past us repeatedly.
Council tries to silence protest by threatening Rossport Solidarity Camp with eviction 15:54 Tue 22 May 0 comments
In a new twist to the decade long struggle against Shell Rossport Solidarity Camp has revealed that Mayo County Council (MCC) has issued an eviction notice to the landowner of the field where the Rossport Solidarity Camp is located. Mayo farmer Gerry Burke has been threatened with fines of over €12,000 and two years in prison. Despite these theats the annual June Bank Holiday solidarity gathering will go ahead in a couple of weeks.
Dublin: The eviction of the Occupy Dame Street camp 21:19 Thu 08 Mar 0 comments
A large force of Garda and council workers were deployed at 3.30am today, International Women's Day, to clear Occupy Dame Street (ODS) camp. The camp was completely demolished in the course of the eviction, campers intimidated and their personal property stolen. This was a level of force way out of proportion with the numbers in the camp (about 15 people) and stands in contrast with the lack of resources put into investigating what happened at Anglo, the collapse of which has left a debt of 26,000 Euro on every single person in the country. [Italiano]
Detailed account of Shell's prosecution of 19 more people for ongoing resistance in Erris, Ireland 21:14 Thu 08 Mar 0 comments
The end of February saw 19 Shell to Sea campaigners, including a WSM member, being prosecuted on 80 charges for civil disobediance against Shell's decade long attempt to impose an experimental high pressure raw gas pipeline on the communities of Erris. Over 8,000 euro in fines were handed down by this special sitting of the Belmullet court and Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway was given two 3-month prison sentences under section 8 of the Public Order Act for blocking the road on two seperate occasions, a 'crime' that anyone following the struggle will be aware Shell's private security company committs three times a day with the co-operation of the Gardai. (Image: Community show support in advance of the court cases, J Bender, RSC)
Report from 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday March 17:56 Thu 02 Feb 0 comments
Despite the opposition of the governing SInn Fein party, relatives of families of the victims of Bloody Sunday and political supporters, including Irish anarchists, marched in remembrance last Saturday. A report from the anarchists present and a background to the issues behind those determined to continue the annual commemoration. [Italiano]
The Household Tax: Don’t Register, Don’t Pay 23:30 Fri 27 Jan 0 comments
Mid-December saw the eventual publication of the long-threatened household tax legislation. The first three months of 2012 will present every household in Ireland with a choice: whether to succumb to this new home tax, which along with the proposed water tax will rise to approx €1,200 per annum within a couple of years, or to refuse to register, refuse to pay and make a stand against the costs of bailing out bankers and developers continuing to be hoisted on our shoulders.
The liberation of a former Bank of Ireland building in Belfast 17:29 Wed 18 Jan 0 comments
Occupy Belfast seized the initiative Monday by re-possessing the former Bank of Ireland building in Royal Avenue gaining media coverage both here and across the world. Around a dozen protestors including a WSM member entered the building, unfurled banners and put up barricades despite early attempts by the police to illegally evict us. A WSM member who took part gives us his views on the occupation below.
Occupy 'x' arrives in Ireland with Occupy Dame street 23:56 Wed 12 Oct 0 comments
The 'Occupy X' movement arrived in Ireland over the weekend when a core group of around 50 people set up camp at the Central Bank Plaza on Dame street. Numbers grew to a few hundred at times over the next days and nights as supporters came down to join in for a while and the curious stopped to see what was going on. Issues highlighted by participants included the bank bail out, IMF intervention & the ongoing Great Oil & Gas Giveaway.
Galway sees Day of action against Fine Gael think-in 22:04 Fri 09 Sep 0 comments
The Fine Gael party was confronted with angry scenes at not one but two different blockades during a meeting of the parliamentary party in Galway city yesterday. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his cabinet were attending their pre-budget think-in at the luxury Radisson hotel when some 30 students from the NUIG Free Education for Everyone (FEE) group and the Students’ Union blockaded the entrance in protest at the government’s policy of education cuts, registration fee increases and the ever-looming prospect of full fees. They were joined by two dozen members of the Save Roscommon Hospital Alliance who were equally intent on showing the Fine Gael party what they think of their callous indifference to the welfare of the working class.more >>
A WSM talk about the development & future of the campaign against water charges, a mass campaign of resistance to privitisation of water and an austerity tax that has emerged in southern Ireland involving hundreds of thousands of people.
Dublin City Council have new by laws to permit officials to interrogate members of the public as to how they are disposing of their rubbish. When the councils started charging for waste disposal years back numerous people refused to pay, the councils then withdrew their collections and ultimately the service was privatised. At the time of the introduction of a fee for rubbish collection some environmentalists argued it was a good thing that would lead to greater recycling and lower waste production. The councils began charging for recycling also of course.
The future of the CAHWT - Making Democracy Work Jun 14 0 comments
Almost a month has passed since the national conference of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT). While on the surface things look pretty quiet, this is a critical juncture for the campaign. The momentum that has been lost by the attachment of the CAHWT to the unsuccessful No referendum campaign will only be rebuilt when the government make their next move, but those active in the campaign need to use the coming weeks to prepare for that eventuality.
Single Issue Campaigns, Community Syndicalism & Direct Democracy Jun 14 0 comments
There’s been a lot of talk lately about participatory and direct democracy. Renewed interest in alternative forms of organising society has arisen from increasing dissatisfaction with mainstream politics and the domination of the economy by a few corporations. This dissatisfaction has found its expression in the Arab spring, the May 15th movement in Spain and the Occupy movement in the English-speaking world. Where the anti-capitalist movement of the last decade focussed almost exclusively on the power of the corporations and finance capital, this current tendency is to also focus on politics and the state.
Household Tax- planning to win - democracy is the key May 19 0 comments
The National Conference of the Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes this Saturday will be making some key decisions that will determine the future success of the campaign. The ultimate objective of our campaign should be to ensure that everyone who gets involved in it can have an equal input into our decision-making. This will make for a more democratic and far more efficient Campaign which large numbers of people will feel direct ownership of. That will mean a far stronger Campaign and one capable of winning. On Saturday we will be distributing this text which explains the case for direct democracy as a leaflet to those attending the conference.more >>
Why we are leaving Campaign Against Home and Water Taxes (CAHWT) Jun 26 WSM 0 comments
The Workers Solidarity Movement has decided to withdraw from the Campaign Against Home and Water Taxes. Please see statement below. We have made a donation of €1,000 towards paying off the debts of CAHWT.
Scotland's for Council Housing! Glasgow Demo, 24th September Sep 18 Liberty and Solidarity & IWW 0 comments
With the full backing of the Glasgow chapter of Liberty and Solidarity and local community newspaper 'The Burgh Angel' , Hamiltonhill Action Group will be holding a demonstration with the Scottish Tenants Organisation on Thursday 24th September, against the Glasgow Housing Association's (GHA) refusal to invest money in their community.
The Libertarian - issue 2 Aug 28 WSM 5 comments
The second issue of 'The Libertarian' a local newsletter distributed in Dublin 8 by the WSM is online.