Thousands March in Dublin against War in the Lebanon

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The Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) and the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), called for a national demonstration against Israeli war crimes. This is a brief report of the march.

The march was preceded by a rally at the side of Parnell Square. Most of the crowd listened with interest, while around the edges those more used to political events chatted among themselves.

The meeting was chaired by Richard Boyd Barret of the Socialist Workers Party, wearing his Irish Anti-War Movement hat. He called for a boycott of Israeli goods, the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and for the US military to leave Shannon Airport. At one point he was heckled by an onlooker who asked what about the 3, 000 African children who die each day. To the cheers of the crowd he said that the billions spend on war by the US and Israel would provide enough money to feed every child in the world.

Other speakers included a representative from the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign who called for the end of the occupation of Palestine, for an immediate ceasefire followed by negotiation and a solution in line with international law. A Lebanese speaker (perhaps he was the Lebanese consulate?) asked people to support Lebanon, to raise their voices in solidarity, to stop the arms trade in supply parts and the use of Shannon airport and demanded an immediate ceasefire. He was followed by an Arabic speaker who was cheered by the Arabic speakers in the crowd. There was then a speaker from the Palestine community in Ireland, from Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation and a former US solider speaking on behalf of Iraq Veterans against the War. The final speaker was the Catholic Worker, Ciaran O’Reily, fresh from his acquittal on charges of causing damage to a US military plane on Shannon.

By the end of the 45 minutes, however the entire crowd seemed to be wearing of the endless addresses and seemed impatient to move off.

The crowd then marched the traditional route, down O’Connell Street around by College green, ending up at the Central Bank. I saw Lebanese and Palestine flags as well as banners and placards from the Irish Congress of Trade Union youth group, the trade union SIPTU, the Labour Party, Sinn Fein, Socialist Youth, Irish Socialist Network The Socialist Party, the Communist Party, Socialist Worker and their front group People Before Profit and of course the Workers Solidarity Movement. Members of the WSM also carried a banner that read ‘Resist Israel’s War of Terror, Support Israeli Refuseniks, Organise for a Just World’.

Foot sore and thirsty, I escaped the closing rally and headed towards the pub instead (as is also traditional). Over an hour later, stragglers from the rally arrived. When asked how many speakers there were, one replied wearily ‘hundreds’. Another reported that Kieren Allen, head of the SWP, to cheers from some quarters of the crowd, had condemned the left for not supporting Hamas and Hizbollah as a national liberation movement. Unlike previous marches in Dublin however, there didn’t seem to be any Hizbollah flags present.

Walking up to the march I asked my friends how many they thought would be there. I was pessimistic, predicting a turn out of 700, and suspecting that afterwards people would blame the bad weather and summer holidays for the lack of interest. My more optimistic friend predicted 1,100 but was concerned at the lack of posters advertising the event. It had however received some publicity in the Irish Times. Both of us however, were overly gloomy. On the march, almost nobody I asked was prepared to say exactly how big it was, but numbers mentioned ranged from 1,500 to 2,500 – a respectable turnout for a Dublin march. Not embarrassingly small, but neither impressively large.

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