Government 'badly exposed' by US support
About 1,200 people took part in a peaceful anti-war march in Shannon amid tight security.
Irish Times, March 3rd 2003 [extract from this article.]
Deaglan de Breadun, Foreign Affairs correspondent.
The Government was in a 'badly exposed' position politically because it was continuing to support the US war build-up when the vast majority of the Irish people were opposed to an attack on Iraq, Socialist Party TD Mr Joe Higgins told a peace demonstration at Shannon Airport.
About 1,200 people took part in the non-violent march from Shannon shopping centre to the arrivals hall of the Airport on Saturday afternoon.
The protest was organised by thr Irish Aanti War Movement (IAWM) and was seperate from the civil disobedience protest at the airports perimeter fence, organsed by Grassroots Network Against War, in which 10 people were arrested and charged with public order offences.
Referring to the large security presence, Mr Higgins told the IAWM protest: "What an absolute outage that on this day we have, mobilised around Shannon Airport, Garda helicopters, a Garda riot squad, gardai on horse, armed men, all pointing in the direction of this peaceful protest."
But they were looking in the wrong direction, he added. Elsewhere in the airport complex they could find, "violent men and machinery on their way to wreak on the people of Iraq the most horrific destruction." He added, "If you want to stop violence, go out and arrest them and send them back to the United States."
He found it incredible that Labour, the Green Party, Sinn Fein, and other organisations had allowed themselves to be "panicked" into staying away from the protest because of the "hype" and scare stories in the news media.
Referrring to the Grassroots group, which was trying to tear down the airport perimeter fence nearby, he said: "Those virtual warriors, before they go pulling down fences on the Internet, should really think that the media is out there, sections of it, waiting for a chance to discredit and smear."
Mr Higgins accused sections of the media of trying to "frighten away the tens of thousands of ordinary people who are absolutely opposed to what the Irish Government is doing."
Ms Aisling Golden, from an organisation called Youth Against the War, said history was made in the mass protest on Fenruary 15th. "The irish Government may try to dismisss the anti-war movemnt, that may try to ignore it with bad stuff in the media, but this is only getting to make the young people of Ireland more determined and more willing to come out and raise our voices."
[reports of other speakers...]