Report on the March Against Austerity – Saturday 26 November

I’d say the size of the demonstration was about 4k with the distinct ULA contingent, which I marched with (behind the Cork ULA banner), being a bit under 100. There was a separate, slightly smaller, SWP contingent immediately behind us but as far as I could see there was no separate SP contingent on the march.

Both the SP and SWP had large paper selling and leafleting teams, with a smaller ULA leafleting team (made up primarily of SP & SWPers from what I could tell).

I was very surprised to see ICTU President Eugene McGlone as one of the key-note speakers given that ICTU had done virtually nothing to build the demonstration. For instance my own union, IMPACT, had only sent out an email with the march details at 13:33 on Friday 25 November – the day before the march!

McGlone was spouting the usual reformist rubbish with not a word about the need for militant class struggle. Given ICTU’s encouragement, at the mass demonstration in Dublin on 27 November last year (where the ICTU leaders were booed by a sizeable part of the crowd), to vote Labour as the answer to our problems, rather than militant class struggle, I was surprised by the degree of respect McGlone got from this crowd only a year later with Labour in a coalition continuing the attacks of the previous regime, especially as the supposedly left-wing component was a much larger proportion this time.

Another thing I found strange was the compère from the Dublin Council of Trade Unions giving a special thanks to S‌inn Fein and the ULA for helping organise the demo (are SF in the Alliance Against Austerity?). Sinn Fein has a contingent on the demonstration. It was near the back and I only had a brief look at it but it seemed similar in size to the ULA contingent.

The union contingents, such as were present, were the biggest blocs on the demo (SIPTU and INTO being the two largest I think). The Workers Solidarity Movement, Workers Party and Republican Sinn Fein were other smaller contingents I noticed. I presume éirígí were there but I didn’t see them. Socialist Democracy were distributing their paper and I saw a lone Spart whom I approached to buy a Workers Vanguard, much to his surprise as he seemed to otherwise be being mostly ignored. He was a visitor and didn’t recognise me.

The Alliance Against Austerity had announced that they would be facilitating a “general assembly” at the end of the formal part of the demonstration. I missed the transition between the formal speakers to the “general assembly” as I was handing out ULA leaflets to the passers-by at the time but when I came back to the front of the stage it became apparent that the bulk of the demonstration had left with little more than 1k remaining.

My wife, Anne McShane, had been one of the first to put her name forward to speak at the “general assembly” but in scenes reminiscent of the worst of the SWP’s undemocratic procedures she was not taken to speak, despite reminding them repeatedly. The fact that Kieran Allen was in constant communication with the two SWP women formally responsible for organising the speakers list was obviously not accidental.

The speakers who did get to participate in the “general assembly” seemed to be mostly pre-arranged from single issue campaigns which I presume have joined with the ULA in the new Alliance Against Austerity. These were interspersed with SWP and SP speakers, though mostly not identifiying as such. I thought the best of these were the SP speakers though I noticed that even they seemed reluctant to use the “S” word…

The Campaign Against Household & Water Taxes did not have a speaker, or indeed any separate presence at the demonstration, which was quite surprising given that both the SP & SWP have supposedly made it a top priority. I also wasn’t aware of either a People before Profit or Enough! presence.


12 Responses to “Report on the March Against Austerity – Saturday 26 November”

  1. November 30, 2011 at 11:48

    Thanks for the report, I didn’t stick around for the ‘assembly’ because I rather suspected it would be as you describe it. SWP equivalent of corporate Greenwash I guess!

    On the numbers I think your being rather over generous, there were three proper counts I was aware in all coming in between 2000 & 2500(mine). I have a report on the day on the WSM site at http://www.wsm.ie/c/dctu-anti-cuts-demonstration-11nov

  2. November 30, 2011 at 12:11

    I must confess my estimate of the size was a bit of a guess, I’ll accept your more scientifically based correction.

    Saw your report – thought it was a pretty good assessment of the reasons for the low turn-out

  3. December 5, 2011 at 11:17

    Anne McShane’s analysis of the demo and associated political problems is available at http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004640

    • 6 D_D
      January 12, 2012 at 17:54

      Folks, only now have I come across this thread. In December I had stumbled upon Anne’s post on Indymedia which led me to her report in the ‘Weekly Worker’. I didn’t take it lightly, nor do I think such public allegations should be made lightly. I drafted the following to Anne but never sent it. I should have, or sent something similar to the ‘Weekly Worker’. Perhaps I may transmit it now, as an open letter, on this thread as it has reproduced and suppoted the original material.

      Dear Anne,

      On Indymedia and in the British publication the ‘Weekley Worker’ you
      published the following direct and serious allegegations about the
      conduct of the Assembly which followed the march and rally on the 26th
      November 2011

      “The chair announced people should contact the organisers and give
      their names to take part – everybody would have their say. In fact it
      was almost completely orchestrated and dominated by the SWP. Although
      a couple of Socialist Party members spoke, including MEP Paul Murphy,
      the other contributors were in the main SWP – or any ‘Joe Soaps’ they
      thought would not say anything controversial. Names were carefully
      filtered under the supervision of SWP leader Kieran Allen.

      Needless to say, although one of the first to put my name forward, I
      did not get to speak. I waited and asked and asked and asked, but,
      alas, there was always an excuse.”

      As I attended the organising committees for both the Dublin Council of Trade Unions march and
      the Alliance Against Austerity assembly, and as both events were co-ordinated and organised
      in conjunction, I am concerned that it is claimed, and publicly
      claimed, that a political party dominated and orchestrated the assembly
      and that a named leader of that party, not designated for this
      function, supervised the choice or rejection of speakers. I am also
      concerned that it is claimed that you were not chosen to speak though
      you were one of the first to put you name forward and then asked
      several times to speak.

      Before, or at least in tandem with, publicly reporting these serious
      matters, which are serious for the integrety and reputation of the
      DCTU and the AAA, and the ULA which was the largely responsible
      for the AAA, these matters should surely have been complained of to
      the DCTU and the ULA, or at least the ULA. Is it your intention to do
      so? Is it your intention to bring these matters formally to the
      attention of the ULA, AAA and the DCTU? If what happened actually did
      happen there should be an investigation at least.


      Des Derwin.

      • 7 D_D
        January 12, 2012 at 18:05

        The last line makes no sense and should have read ‘If what is claimed happened is a serious claim that it actually did happen there should be an investigation at least”.

        [It’s probably too late for all that now. Though what’s been said was said, and publicly. We are supposed to be serious people, not playing games and saying ‘yah! yah!’ to each other in the schoolyard.]


      • January 12, 2012 at 22:57

        As far as I am aware there are no formal structures within the ULA for raising such criticisms and the AAA is not actually a real organisation so it is unclear how, or to who, such a complaint could have been made. The DCTU had left the scene by this time and was not involved so do not come in to the picture.

        If the ULA was more of a real organisation with proper internal structures then I would agree with you and I would have availed of such structures.

        I suspect Anne might have still gone ahead because of her allegiance to the CPGB’s fetishisation of “openness”.

        But leaving that political difference aside, in this concrete situation the use of a variation of the “open letter” tactic seems reasonable to me.

  4. 9 D_D
    January 12, 2012 at 18:22

    BTW I agree with Andrew’s numbers and would always trust his count. There was a point I think where the attendance might have gone higher, and 4k would not be the biggest exaggeration ever for march 🙂

  5. 10 D_D
    January 13, 2012 at 14:09

    And I think we will leave it at that then.

  6. 11 redarmyleader
    February 16, 2012 at 05:46

    How I happened to find this blog I really don’t know but am happy I did. Very interesting to know what issues and struggles are happening around the world. It has only been recently that in the U.S. the major news media discovered the continent called Europe, so any information gotten about other countries had to be from primary sources. Of course, the U.S. news media says little about Ireland and definitely nothing about the ULA and other organizations and radical tendencies since they report from U.S. Imperialism’s point of view.

    I have a thousand questions, though I suspect I ought to educate myself more about the ULA and situation in Ireland in general before I ask them. I do have two questions that I would like to ask now. One question I wanted to ask now though is regarding this anti-austerity march; is it just me or was the march mostly composed of older people? I hardly saw any young people, especially those organizations and student unions who were part of the actions against tuition hikes a couple of years ago. If this was the case, then why?

    And how would you describe the mood at the march? From the footage I saw it seems there lacked a real sense of militancy. I know people are angry over the austerity measures, but I certainly could not tell that from footage of the march or statements, save one statement from a community organizer who spoke.

    • February 22, 2012 at 22:32

      Apologies for not replying earlier.

      Been very busy with the anti-household tax campaign.

      You would be correct to note that the demographic of the demonstration was older than you might otherwise expect – and this is being repeated in the anti-household tax campaign. As to why I am unsure exactly. I suspect it is some combination of emigration being seen as “the answer” for young people and the impact of 20 years of “Social Partnership” teaching a whole generation that class struggle, even in the most limited trade union sense, is a bad thing.

      I would agree that the mode on that march was surprisingly subdued. I can however report that is not the case with the more recent anti-household tax campaign meetings and demonstrations I have been at and seen video of – there are now the first signs of a real anger and desire to fight. Things might be starting to change for the better – in terms of class struggle returning to Ireland.

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