Article from the October 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
Socialist Youth - reports on building the socialist alternative
US warplanes still using Shannon - HUNDREDS PROTEST By Cillian Gillespie
ON 24 September a protest took place at Shannon Airport against the continuing occupation of Iraq and the Irish government's active support for it.
The airport has been used for the past three years for refuelling US warplanes. Over 500,000 US troops have used the airport on their way to and from Iraq. Another example of the Irish government's complicity in the war is that it spends E10,000, every day subsidising the US military to use Shannon. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bush's envoy to Ireland, Richard Hass, stated that Shannon is crucial to US operations in Iraq and would be difficult to replace. Over 400 participated in the protest. Although the numbers on the protest were down compared to previous anti-war demonstrations, there was a considerable number of young people from Shannon town who marched. Undoubtedly, the presence of the US military machine on their doorstep has had an effect on their political outlook.
Socialist Youth and Socialist Party members, North and South, participated on the protest. We had the most youthful contingent on it, with lively chants. We were the only group on the protest to point out the link between the capitalist system and the war in Iraq, along with arguing for a socialist alternative to both.
Socialist Youth organised a bus that came from Dublin, with mainly young people on it. Members from SY and SP also came on buses from Belfast, Cork and Limerick, and leafleted schools in the lead up to the protest. In one case, this resulted in a Socialist Youth member in Limerick being "disciplined" by the school authorities for actively opposing the war in his school. However, the school authorities were forced to back down after we organised a letter writing campaign in protest.
Roisin, 18 years old, told an SY member, "It was a great. Straying into politics for the first time, socialism is starting to look appealing." James, 21, said. "I am against the use of Shannon, a civilian airport as a US army base. As a result Ireland has become a terrorist target".
VICTORY for school student action By Cian Prendiville, Limerick
IN RECENT weeks secondary students in Ardscoil Ris, Limerick stood up against ageism and totalitarianism in schools and we won. Eight of us gave leaflets to students from our school as they left school. Then the principal tried to punish us, thinking she could get away with it, but she was wrong.
We were reprimanded and our parents were called. The real issue, however, was clear to some parents: there is no reason, law or rule stopping us leafleting on public property in our own time. This is to be expected from the ageist, conservative and undemocratic school officials. We refused to let this go and decided to take a stand. Through the web, SY and other groups, hundreds of supporters emerged in a mater of hours. We also had some media, solicitors and Socialist Party representatives on our side.
We prepared a campaign, which included phone calls, letters, emails and press coverage - hitting them from all angles, and we won the right to leaflet our school.
This important victory shows how we can beat education officials in future by standing up and fighting our ground. Now what we need is to organise throughout the country - setting up student action groups and linking up into a national, fighting school students' union and political force.
ASBOs...ASBOs...ASBOs...ASBOs.. Kill the Bill
By Paul Murphy, Dublin
MICHAEL McDOWELL is pushing ahead with his plans for the Criminal Justice Bill, which includes the introduction of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs). He wants to have this legislation on the statute book by Christmas if possible so he can start a further crackdown on young people's rights.
ASBOs in Britain have already been used to criminalise protest, having been granted against protestors at the world's largest arms fair and Palestinian rights campaigners. They have also been used in Britain to criminalise young people wearing hoodies and playing loud music! In Ireland, these orders will be another weapon in the repressive arsenal of the State to crack down on dissent and protest.
Young people have a vested interest in opposing this Bill. ASBOs will be employed predominantly against us. Instead of criminalizing young people, the government should be providing much needed youth facilities to help combat anti-social behaviour.
Over the next months, Socialist Youth will be trying to mobilise young people around the country to demand the scrapping of this Bill. We will be doing campaigning stalls and holding public meetings around the country, trying to get young people active. If you are interested in campaigning alongside us, contact 086 1688050.
University/Student Work - Report on Freshers' Fairs THE SOCIALIST Society, a student organisation which was set up by members of Socialist Youth, intervened at the end of September in university freshers' fairs. Already having a sizeable presence in Queen's University Belfast, we decided to branch out this year to the campuses of Jordanstown and Coleraine in the University of Ulster.
In response to not being allowed to hold our stall in Queen's, letters of protest were sent from Cllr. Mick Barry and Joe Higgins TD forcing the students' union to back down. 29 students joined the Society. This will mean that we have a bright prospect in the Students' Council elections but, more importantly, a large platform to put our ideas forward to the mass of students and campaign on a number of issues.
In the campus at Coleraine, 23 students joined the Socialist Society, which we can use to build a branch within the university. However, Jordanstown proved more difficult as our members were forced to leave the premises and were denied their freedom of speech by the undemocratic Students' Union management. We will be working with our new members there to build a presence in the campus so that next year we can ensure a stall at fresher's fair and develop our organisation within the student population.
Our stalls openly displayed socialist ideas. We discussed our politics with students and our stall was by far the most approachable and informative of the left groups on campus. The Socialist Society will continue to be the most active left-wing student organisation in the North.
Why I joined Dean D'Arco, 16, Belfast
I've been in Socialist Youth for just over a month now. I'm a strong believer in human rights and equality for all. Watching the news these days, I'm becoming more and more angry over issues such as the war in Iraq, the crisis in Niger and the disasterous handling of Hurricane Katrina by the Bush administration.
Over $200 billion have been spent on the occupation of Iraq and NASA recently spent $80 billion to send another mission to the Moon. Meanwhile, a million are left homeless in New Orleans and Niger is starving. Can you believe the audacity of capitalist governments?
Right-wing capitalist politics have failed to provide a fair and peaceful world. A glimpse of what can be achieved can be seen in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, where the wealth from the country's massive oil production is used to benefit the masses rather than going into the pockets of the super-rich. This has resulted in huge improvements in living standards, education and healthcare and shows the benefits of public ownership of society's resources.
That's why I joined Socialist Youth, and I would strongly recommend that you do the same. After all, we are the future.