March for a Decent Public Health Service report


Appoximately 5,000 people turned out for the “March for a Decent Public Health Service” held on Saturday, 29th March in Dublin. Various Trade Unions, patients groups from around the country and political organisations were represented.The Workers Solidarity Movement were also present as part of a sizeable anarchist bloc. We considered the march to be an important opportunity to build momentum behind a campaign that would fight for quality public healthcare for all and to end profit-driven medicine,. We produced and distributed 10,000 leaflets explaining why we thought people should take part.

Of course, 5,000 is a relatively small number for an issue as fundamental and topical as health. It would probably have required three times that number to send a strong message to the government that “enough is enough”. Unfortunately, it was very wet right up to the start of the march which must have had some effect on numbers. Also, the lack of a clear and concrete aim of the march, beyond venting some anger at the two-tier system, meant there wasn’t a compelling reason for people to take to the streets.

Further regional marches have been organised for various towns around the country for Saturday, 26th April. At the time of going to print, it is unclear how successful these can be. Can they act to build momentum, confidence and a sense of the potential of a national health campaign among workers and patients?

As anarchists, we have argued and continue to argue for a campaign built from the bottom-up. Workers and patients know what the problems with the health system in Ireland are. We know that co-location is the first step towards an American-style system of for-profit medicine. We know that everyone deserves a medical card. We don’t need to be told what to do. We don’t want to be sold-out or bought-off by opportunist union leaders or wannabe politicians. Partnership deals or electing “the right person” will do nothing to stop the drive towards privatised healthcare.

A campaign will only be successful if it based on open and democratic local groups in towns and suburbs across the country, that come together on an equal basis to make decisions and organise for action. This is the kind of empowering campaign that we should be encouraging people to build, not one of marches followed by yet more marches.

This article is from Workers Solidarity 103, May - June 2008

PDF of the southern edition of WS103
PDF of northern edition of WS103