Bush not welcome here!

Thousands march in Irish cities against Iraq occupation

Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Youth, Ireland

Up to 20,000 people protested in Dublin on Friday 25 as Airforce One landed at Shannon Airport for an 18 hour EU-US summit. George W Bush is the first US president not to receive a warm welcome on an official state visit from even a small section of Irish people.

The main purpose of the visit was to try and mend the strained relations between the US and the major European capitalist powers. However Bush also hoped that images of him being welcomed throughout Ireland would boost his support amongst Irish-American voters in the run up to the Presidential elections in November. In this sense the visit was a spectacular failure given the size of the protests against him. The US Embassy has also lodged a formal complaint with state television company, RTE for airing an interview, which painted Bush in a bad light. Apparently the US Ruling class don’t like answering tough questions!!

As Airforce one touched down in Shannon, 20,000 people marched through the centre of Dublin in one of the biggest mid-week demonstrations in 20 years. The authorities did all they could to make sure that no one heard of the demonstrations. A draconian byelaw was enforced that banned any postering for the demonstration in Dublin. There was also a ban on advertisement for a gig that was organised in order to raise funds for the Irish Anti-War Movement in the week running up to the visit that was expected to attract 8,000 people to it. As a result the organisers of the event had to move to a smaller venue.

In the single biggest security operation in Irish history, 2,000 Gardai (police), 4,000 Irish troops, Scorpion tanks, two security companies along with hundreds of CIA and FBI agents descended around the Shannon area, to deal with the ‘threat’ of violence. The total cost of the operation exceeded 10 million euro – enough money to keep Ennis Regional Hospital – which the government plan to close - open for ten years.

The Socialist Party and Socialist Youth had one of the biggest and liveliest contingents on the demonstration in Dublin, which included many young people from both the North and South of Ireland. As always our TD Joe Higgins received an excellent response when he spoke from the platform. Joe lambasted the role of Bush and US imperialism in Iraq and role of the Irish government in supporting them. He also got an enthusiastic response when he said that real democracy would not exist in Iraq until there was a complete withdrawal of US and foreign forces and where the wealth of Iraq would be under the democratic ownership and control of the Iraqi people.

We also had contingents on anti-Bush demonstrations in Cork and Shannon Airport the following day. Many young people expressed an interest in getting involved with Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party throughout the weekend. In the weeks ahead we will be continuing our campaign against the occupation of Iraq.

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