Seomra Spraoi - What the hell is a ‘social centre’?


Mark Malone spoke to Workers Solidarity about Dublin’s social centre. He is a member of the WSM and also of the Seomra Spraoi Collective.

Q. Mark, what exactly is Seomra Spraoi?
Seomra Spraoi is a self-managed, self-funded project on Belvedere Court, just off Gardiner Street in Dublin’s north inner city. It’s a project that functions both as a resource to different campaigns, groups and individuals to use for meetings and workshops, as well as being home to a radical cinema, cafe, internet access and library. This month there will be a creche opening too.

Q. Why did you get involved with the project?
Along with other people, I recognised a need for physical spaces that embody anti-capitalist ways of working, not just in the future, but in the here and now. In 2004 when we first started, there were no visible, self-managed social centres in Ireland. We were responding to our own needs as well as making a project that was open to all who wanted to get involved. It was a form of direct action, with a rejection of paid labour and hierarchical structures.

Seomra Spraoi is designed to be an entry point for a largely depoliticised population, and offers a living example of how people can work productively together without bosses or a profit motive. At the same time we wanted to take on some of the issues of social relationships that often get ignored in revolutionary politics, like actively challenging sexism, making the project family friendly and increasing accessibility - things that are often invisible barriers restricting people’s involvement in political and social life.

We work on a basis of direct democracy and hold weekly open meetings where decisions are made. We have working groups dealing with events, the cafe, cinema nights etc. that break up the running of the project into manageable chunks. Since starting in 2004, we have developed aims and principles through a process of discussion and consensus and anyone who respects and agrees with these can use the space. We are funded through donations and standing orders from supporters.

Q. How have anarchist ideas influenced projects like Seomra Spraoi?
Projects like this don’t work on political purism, as many people are coming from different personal and political places themselves. Although many people who use Seomra wouldn’t call themselves anarchists, it’s fair to say that anarchist ideas are at the heart of what we are about. Rejecting the exploitation and greed of capitalism, working democratically as equals and challenging oppressive social norms are central to anarchism. These are things we embrace and encourage.

Q. How can people get involved?
We have weekly meetings on Thursdays at 7.30pm and anyone is welcome to come along. For more details and a map see

This article is from Workers Solidarity 107 Jan/Feb 2009

You can read WS107 online or download the PDF file