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Art of protest politics alive and well


A number of events took place over the weekend that underline the continuing relevancy of participative politics to people across Ireland.

Firstly, nearly five thousand people took to the streets of Belfast city centre to demand equality for the Irish language and its proponents in the occupied area.

Hundreds marched in Dublin in support of the people of west Mayo in their continuing battle against Shell Oil and the 26 County government’s shameful give-away of our natural resources.

Also in Belfast, a packed hall heard former Guantanamo Bay political prisoner Mozzam Begg recount how he and his fellow hostages drew strength from the heroism of the H-Block hunger-strikers of 1981.

Meanwhile, famous US folk singer David Rovics entertained crowds around the country with his searing criticisms of imperialism and injustice.

In all, thousands of Irish people have engaged themselves in some form of collective action over the last few days. Not in extraordinarily large numbers but in significant figures nonetheless.

The point now is to start joining the dots. While the issues at hand over the weekend may seem disparate, they are all, in fact, inextricably linked. What it essentially comes down to is people’s control, or lack thereof, over the society in which they live.

For example, discrimination against Gaeilgeoirí in the Six Counties may seem like an anomaly directly related to the injustice of British occupation and partition. And it is – the obvious solution being the democratic resolution of the national question.

However, the situation in west Mayo (in a Gaeltacht community no less) is a result of the same unjust system – the culprits this time being foreign multinationals and a complicit native government.

If imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, both ideologies must be defeated if we are to build a truly democratic Ireland. Only then will speakers of our national tongue, whether in Belfast or Ballinaboy, gain the respect they deserve. Only then will our natural resources be deployed for the benefit of all the people who inhabit this island.

Not forgetting the international aspect, the removal of all US forces from Shannon Airport would be the best act of solidarity the people of Ireland could give to our fellow citizens – particularly in the Arab world.

 The state of radicalism in today’s Ireland isn’t in its ideal mode. However, it is important to remember that it could be worse. By keeping active, building alliances and constantly analysing where we want to go, we are preparing the ground for more fruitful times.

The art of protest politics hasn’t gone away you know!


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“If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of our prisons or graves we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps, raise a force that will destroy you! We defy you! Do your worst!”