10
Feb
13

Impressions of yesterday’s ICTU initiated protest in Cork

So about 5,000- 6,000 on the Cork demonstration called by ICTU yesterday. Made up of about 4-5000 behind trade union banners, followed by a few hundred behind community group banners and 1,000 or so in the CAHWT contingent at the end.

The main march was for the most part pretty quiet with most (all?) of the chanting coming from the community group and CAHWT sections.

I was wearing a few hats on the protest. Helping organise the Cork Women’s Right to Choose Group contingent, bring one of the banners and the leaflets. Marching with the Cobh CAHWT contingent, though I got separated from them with a few other Cobh people for a good part of the demo. And also distributing my leaflet, mainly at the start and the end – around 450 in total given out.

The trade union leaders had a conscious plan of isolating the CAHWT contingent on the demonstration with us being placed last and this was compounded by a bizarre decision by those leading the CAHWT participation on the day to separate from the main rally at the end and hold a separate rally a few hundred metres away. A good few CAHWT activists either didn’t notice this sectarian stunt was taking place, or like myself simply ignored it, and went into the main crowd. The alternative CAHWT rally looked like a joke next to the main rally containing the vast bulk of working people who had come to the protest.

I went into that main rally with one of my fellow Cobh activists who had brought his own double-sized placard:

Begg, O’ Conner & Buddies
Fat Cat Collaborators and Betrayers of the People
Where is your leadership?
Call for National Protests NOW!

We, along with other CAHWT activists in the main crowd, heckled the platform speakers when they were making their more atrocious statements. We got some support from the non-CAHWT activists around us so it was clear to me that if the full CAHWT contingent had come into the main rally it would have had quite a different flavour.

The platform speeches were politically very weak to say the least. No criticism of the Irish government combined with a “programme” of begging the European capitalist elites to be nicer/fairer to us. However I guess that is to be expected and of more concern was the tactics of the leadership of the CAHWT contingent.

The following is an email I sent this afternoon to the wider Cork activist list. At the time of posting there have been 4 responses, all agreeing with me.

I would like to register my disagreement with the decision to have a separate rally at the end of yesterdays march.

There were thousands of ordinary working class people on the demonstration yesterday. It was bad enough that the trade union misleaders managed to isolate us at the end of the march through their stage managing of the order of contingents but it was a serious mistake to actuallly facilitate that ourselves by holding this separate rally.

Those thousands of working class people were not all hostile to us, as the open reception I got to my leaflet headed “Mlitant class struggle to defeat austerity” would indicate. Our main priority should have been to maximise our integration with these workers and to encourage dissent against the sell-out being presented from the platform. The small number of CAHWT activists who did this by heckling the speakers were able to garner some support from others, non-CAHWT activists, in the crowd. If we had done this as a bloc I am sure this would have been greater and encouraged those who had concerns to look to us as an alternative but as it was the campaign only looked like some pathetic sectarian side-show.

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