Right to Work protest fails to bring out the numbers


Just over 300 people took part in the SWP's Right to Work demonstration last night. This was a considerable drop in numbers from the first two demonstrations which saw around 1000 take part and last weeks which saw 600 or more march. This is despite the massive postering effort that had gone into the march. James O'Toole of the SWP said from the stage that 30 people had been involved in postering the city. There was certainly an impressive quantity of posters up all the way out to the canals and beyond. 

It had been said from the stage at last weeks Right to Work rally that several coach loads of people would be coming up from Waterford this week. This hadn't happened and when James was challenged on this by a heckler in the crowd he replied that there were people from Waterford present.  I failed to spot any obvious contingent in the small crowd so perhaps the coach loads had become a car load?

After the first Right to Work march ended with the Gardai attacking a small group of protesters who had tried to enter the Dail carpark with batons generated extensive (and often hysterical) media coverage it seemed likely that numbers would turn out for the subsequent protests.  Then unsuccessful attempt of the Gardai to prevent the first of the Anti-Capitalist bloc's marching to the Right to Work protest added to this sense that there was a need to defend the freedom to protest in particular as we had also seen the Gardai attack on the éirígí occupation of Anglo Irish.

There was no Anti-Capitalist Bloc feeder march called this week as the organisers felt both that the two blocs had made the needed response to Gardai attempts to prevent protest at Anglo Irish Bank and that it was a mistake to simply repeat the bloc until numbers dwindled. Wandering through the crowd at the Right to Work protest I recognised many people from the blocs of the previous weeks.

Also announced from the platform was the intention to delay the next protest for three weeks until June 23rd when Brian Cowen is meant to be having a dinner with IBEC at the Mansion house. IBEC is the PR organisation of the Irish capitalist class that has flooded the media with material intended to set worker against worker and weaken our resistance to the attacks on our pay, jobs and services. Disrupting their dinner while only symbolic in effect would be a pleasure and if it involved huge numbers could give a useful boost to the moral of those who want to fight back.

However we have to be wary of simply looking at building resistance as a question of moving from one stunt to the next. The capitalist assault is massive and can only be turned back by an organised and united working class response involving hundreds of thousands if not millions, most probably in the form of a general strike. The trade unions leaders have demonstrated they will argue and organize against such a response so building towards this requires a genuine united front, not just of the left but also of union branches, community organisations and campaign groups united around struggle and a desire to make the rich pay. It's unfortunate that to date the left parties and individuals have only been interested in building fronts that they can control rather than building towards the eventual launch of such a united front at the point where it would be a real power rather than a paper tiger.


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