Protest at Labour Party Ard Fheis 14th April 2012

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Thousands gathered from the length and breadth of Ireland to protest at the Labour Party Ard Fheis at the continuing austerity. From the household tax, to hospitals, education, neutraity and the treaty. It was a glorious sunny day. Much was made of the ‘violence’ but keystone cops isn’t a message that some want put out there.

It was a magnificent day of protest with upto 4,000 marching, some media claiming 5,000, with about a thousand pushing through a small police line up to the door of the Labour Party conference.

Every age was there and the anger stronger and more bitter than at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis which took place two weeks previously.

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9 Responses

  1. Jose Ospina

    April 17, 2012 1:53 pm

    Sure, there was more anger and bitterness because the Sovereign movement in Ireland and the right wing media have chosen to make the Labour Party the scapegoat of the current crisis. It is outrageous that so called defenders of working people should be attacking police and attempting to disrupt a peaceful forum where committed activists are trying to influence the government to positive reform. To see this as revolutionary action is beyond a joke. it it playing straight into the hands of reactionaries that want the country to be ungovernable.

  2. John Goodwillie

    April 17, 2012 2:39 pm

    I think Jose is making two points which are not at all the same. One is his defence of the Labour Party, which I could not follow all the way. The other is his criticism of “attacking police and attempting to disrupt a peaceful forum”. Just as the right to free speech does not include the right to shout Fire in a crowded theatre, the right to free assembly does not include the right to assemble inside somebody else’s member-only meeting. I got the impression that the only reason the meeting room was not invaded was because someone managed to lock the doors in time. And to describe this as “up to the door of the Labour Party conference”, Paula, seems to imply that the invaders would have stopped meekly when they reached the door. Maybe, I wasn’t there. But it is hardly wrong for the police to act in order to prevent an invasion.

    None of this should take away from the fact that, by all accounts, the majority were holding a peaceful demonstration outside and did not attempt an invasion.

  3. vincent wood

    April 17, 2012 3:35 pm

    It is hard to accept that ‘committed activists’ within Labour are making much headway in terms of either tempering the zeal of Fine Gael or defending the core achievements made by ordinary people over many decades at at great cost.

    The vitriol directed at Labour is because of their faiure to defend most of us against this continued neoliberal assault. Add that to the centenery anniversary and all that brings to mind and people’s understandable frustration, helplessness and anger and this protest was inevitible.

    Those ‘commited activists’ are badly needed outside of this neoliberal government fighting a much bigger battle for a better future. Their efforts inside the tent (so to speak) and any relative policy adjustments psle by comparison.

  4. Jose Ospina

    April 17, 2012 5:01 pm

    We are really dealing here with separate interpretations of reality aren’t we. What Marx called subjectivism. The demonstrators perceive their actions as revolutionary because they really want things to change. There is no objective evidence that their actions lead to positive change, in fact, there is some argument to say that the fact they are in de facto Alliance with the likes of Ganely and Farage their actions are likely to be fairly counterproductive. But the fact that they “feel” rebellious and revolutionary seems to be enough. I think that any objective analysis would sow that the work inside the Labour party pushing the agenda of government to the left is objectively far more important to well-being and human rights. But time will tell..

  5. vincent wood

    April 19, 2012 11:20 am

    Jose. Perhaps the Labour Party are not doing a good job of spelling out how they have pushed the agenda of the government to the Left. Any softening of policy is lost against the bigger battle here. Even the most basic social democratic safeguards that my generation enjoyed have been dismantled or are in the process of it before our very eyes.

    There becomes a point when the defence of ‘realpolitik’ translates us ‘we give up on any real attempt to remember what brought us into politics in the first place – a touch of if we can’t beat them join them.’

    Having said that, I believe in the broadest possible alliance of the progressive left and engage on the basis that we should talk to each other positively. All of that becomes more difficult when it seems that Labour are acting as a security cordon around FG.

    I usually get flack for trying to reach put to Labour activists by comrades who will no doubt be telling me that I am wasting my time. I still think that most people who joined the Labour Party did so on the basis that they want to change the world for the better. No harm in telling them that they’re not doing that presently.

  6. Conor McG

    April 19, 2012 1:03 pm

    Jose:
    You speak of a de facto alliance between the protesters and the likes of galey and Farage. I would contend that such a de facto alliance exists, but will humour you and make a point. By the logic displayed in your assertion, the Labour Party are in something more cohesive than a merely de facto alliance with not only Fine Gael, but also the representatives of international and European capital, the EC, ECB and IMF. To ignore this extension of your logic is disengenious.
    Also, provide an example of how Labour is pushing the Governement agenda to the left?

    John Goodwille:

    Its easy known from your post that you were not there. The first thing the 100 or so protesters, who initially breached the barricades, did was sit down outside the conference. The second breach, of approximately 800 people, broke through three separate metal fences and 2 lines of gardaí and private security operatives. The combined crowd of almost 1,000 peoplle, with another 3,000 people not 150 metres away, were approx six foot from the glass doors of the building. There was 26 guards between them and the conference. They had just broken through a line of many more guards and private security. Had they wished to, they could ahve easily gained access to the conference.
    Its clear that the demonstrators were determined and angry, but peaceful and non-threatening. They only wanted to protest within sight and earshot of the labour politicians, and not tucked away in a carpark behind a number of buildings.

    Also, the vitriol and bad feeling displayed towards Fine Gael delegates at their Ard Fheis was not visible at this protest. A number of delegates and observers were locked out of the building by Gardaí and, displaying their cards and lanyards, mingled freely with the crowd. Protesters realised that many grassroots members of the Labour party are decent working class activists, and their anger was directed at the craven leadership that holds near dictatorial power within the party.

  7. John Goodwillie

    April 19, 2012 1:15 pm

    Conor, I already said I wasn’t there. I accept your assertion that there would have been no invasion of the conference room. But it’s hardly surprising that the police did not assume that. And it’s hardly surprising that the media gave the impression that there would have been an invasion. And, not having been there, I cannot judge whether the conference could have proceeded with a peaceful but probably noisy demonstration outside the room.

  8. Sean

    April 23, 2012 12:41 am

    People are understandably angry, but seem not sure where to direct that anger, which only serves to increase their frustration.
    Attacking the minority party in a government which is try to plug the holes caused by the previous administration seems like misdirected anger.

    A protest can only be effective if it has singular aims.

    E.g. Better regulation, transparency & accountability.

    House charges etc only happen because of the lack of the above…