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ISN Disaffiliates from IAWM

category national | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Tuesday March 23, 2004 13:54author by Irish Socialist Networkauthor email irishsocialistnetwork at dublin dot ie Report this post to the editors

The Irish Socialist Network, a Dublin based radical socialist organisation committed to participatory socialism, has disaffiliated from the IAWM. [ Ed note: I had to change the title from all uppercase/caps. Please don't do this. Uppercase/caps are considered SHOUTING and it's rude. The submissions form specifically asks contributors not to do this. Thanks and sorry if this sounds scolding: it's more of a public announcement just to remind people. R Isible]

The Irish Socialist Network, a Dublin based radical socialist organisation committed to participatory socialism, has disaffiliated from the IAWM and welcomed moves to create new inclusive and democratic anti-war structures.
The following letters, sent to the IAWM secretary, outline the reasons and timing of the ISN disaffiliation.

Colm Stephens,
Irish Anti-War Movement

1st March 2004

Dear Colm,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Irish Socialist Network, an affiliated organisation of the Irish Anti-War Movement. At our most recent meeting on 28th February, a discussion took place with regard to our continued affiliation of the Irish Anti-War Movement. We have been unhappy for some time about the direction of the IAWM but have always been prepared to accept decisions at both steering committee and at the delegate meetings that have been made democratically. When we were represented on the Steering Committee we frequently put forward a different perspective to that of the majority in an open and constructive manner.

We were heartened at the broadening of the organisation that occurred at last year’s conference. Although we differ in analysis, method and principle from both the Socialist Workers Party and some of their opponents within the IAWM, we welcomed moves towards greater democratisation of the organisation. We are, therefore, very concerned at recent events, namely the resignation of Dr. Fintan Lane as PRO of the IAWM, the disaffiliation of the Cork Anti-War Alliance and the suspension in dubious circumstances of two members of the Steering Committee.

Two of our members were present at the national meeting of the IAWM on January 31st. In terms of the issues debated and voted on, the ISN delegate took a variety of positions, determined, not by which ‘side’ was making a proposal, but the merits of each proposal as seen from a participatory and democratic socialist position. The report of the ISN delegates confirms that this was indeed a chaotic and bad tempered meeting. Although the Steering Committee found fault with the behaviour of two of its members, the ISN delegates made clear that there was fault on all sides. We do not condone the intemperate and insulting language used by those involved, especially that directed at the guest speaker Raymond Deane of the IPSC. However, it was clear to the ISN delegates that there was also an attempt by the Socialist Workers Party to pack the meeting and that some prominent members of that organisation also engaged in insulting and childish behaviour, including the labelling of opponents as ‘agents’.

We view the action taken by the Steering Committee as one-sided and would like to know whether there are any inquiries taking place at Steering Committee level to investigate the behaviour of SWP members at this meeting and the blatant packing of the meeting. We are firmly opposed to bureaucratic means of dealing with political differences and condemn the reported suspension, without prior notice, of the two members by a small minority of the Steering Committee.

In light of these developments the ISN is reviewing its affiliation to the IAWM. However we feel it only fair to write to the Steering Committee expressing our concerns before we make any final decision. The ISN wants to see a genuinely broad, democratic anti-war movement in this country; we have worked with like-minded people both within the IAWM and outside. We will continue to do so. We would appreciate a reply at your earliest convenience.

Yours Sincerely

Paul Moloney
Irish Socialist Network

Colm Stephens
Irish Anti War Movement

15th March 2004

Dear Colm,

I wish to inform you that the Irish Socialist Network has disaffiliated from the Irish Anti War Movement. This follows our previous letter expressing our concern at recent developments in the IAWM and the regrettable failure by the Steering Committee to respond to our communication. We find it disturbing that you have failed to even acknowledge a letter in which we indicated that we were considering disaffiliation.

The ISN has been affiliated to the IAWM since 2002. We believe that we have played a constructive role despite the fact that we often found ourselves in disagreement with the dominant force in the organisation, the Socialist Workers Party. During the period when we were represented on the Steering Committee our delegates frequently disagreed with the SWP and others over a number of key questions including; the correct balance between direct action and mass protest, the lack of internal democracy and the uncritical relationship with the Labour Party and trade union bureaucracy. At last years AGM we decided not to put a candidate forward for the new Steering Committee but to remain affiliated. We were, however, heartened by the diversity of the newly elected Steering Committee.

During all this period we continued to work with anti war activists outside the IAWM, in particular the Grassroots Network Against the War. We successfully brought together people from various political backgrounds in Finglas to build for the 15th February demonstration in Dublin. Our members participated in direct action initiatives in both Shannon and Dublin. Our position has been both in theory and practise, that there is no contradiction between these two forms of activity and that it is mistaken to make a fetish of either.

As an organisation which is founded on the principle of participatory and democratic socialism we can no longer remain affiliated to the IAWM. The manner in which the chaotic and bad tempered national meeting of 31st of January was packed by SWP members, the underhand manner in which two steering committee members were suspended, the lack of accountable democratic structures, the intolerance towards differences of opinion, the dogmatic attitude toward direct action and the attitude towards protests at Shannon, leave us with no alternative. The recent disaffiliation of a number of groups and individuals renders the IAWM as little more than an SWP front. We urge the remaining affiliated organisations and individuals to leave the IAWM and play their part in the renewal of the anti war movement.

We wish to acknowledge the fact that two members of the Steering Committee contacted the ISN privately and to express our appreciation of their efforts.
The ISN has not taken this action lightly nor have we been stampeded into action. We have taken time to analyse the situation and draw the appropriate conclusion. As a small organisation, we have no illusions about the impact of our decision but we hope to play a positive role in building new anti war initiatives that are firmly based on democracy and respect for theoretical and tactical diversity. We will continue to work in a constructive manner with all those who are opposed to war and imperialism.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Moloney
Irish Socialist Network

PS: In order to avoid undermining the success of next Saturday’s anti-war march in Dublin, we will not announce our disaffiliation publicly until next week.

author by non-allignedpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 15:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

- "Meeting packed by SWP members"
I was never offered any proof of this. Every SWP member I saw there was a delegate.

- The underhand manner in which two steering committee members were suspended
Those 2 members engaged in threatening behaviour to others at the meeting- I witnessed one shout at another person at the end of the meeting and pointing his finger in her face, another on front of everyone insulted a well respected activist raymond deane, which you admit

-The intolerance towards differences of opinion
I hope you are referring here to the continuous shouting down and disruptive behaviour of people by many of the people who now have dissafilliated. Including a incident where a certain member of Fairview anti war- continually interupted another delegate during the meeting and insulted him.

- The attitude towards protests at Shannon
A decision about Shannon was just put off until a later date, not ruled out.

author by democratpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 15:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Every SWP member I saw there was a delegate"

They were but they were delegates of phantom groups. 'Cats and Dogs against the war', 'candlestickmakers against the war'. Or there is also the practice of breaking up groups that do have real members into several groups so 'Dun Laoghaire against war' becomes, 'Marine Road Against War', 'Ballybrack Against War', 'Bray and Cabinteely against the war' ....

Sometimes the SWP delegates even forgot who they were meant top be representing. Once I remember one particular SWPer saying he was with Dun Laoghaire against the war and then later saying he was 'Clonakilty against the war'

author by Dominic Carroll - Clonakilty Against the Warpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 16:02author email clonakiltyagainstthewar at eircom dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

To the above contributor (Democrat): Which member of the SWP said they represented Clonakilty Against the War? Our group was not represented at the meeting in question. Please elaborate on this allegation of impersonation.

author by Alignedpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 16:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Non-aligned is a liar. But then again, so are most members of the SWP.

author by Truthpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 16:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes Democrat please elaborate, answer the man's quetsion- I was there and nobody claimed they were representing Clonakilty. If you do have fact back up your allegations. Don't just make up shit and prove nothing as is the basis of most this farcical sectarian crap.

author by Truthpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 16:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

My points been proven again by comment below- "non-alligned is a liar." just a blnak statement with no backing.

author by Joepublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 16:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seems to me that 'democrat ' has set up some strawmen that the SWP can now easly knock down and so 'prove' that nothing is wrong.

author by Clonakilty puddingpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 16:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It must by David Lorden who is the SWP's equivalent of Mick O'Sullivan and Laurence Vize rolled into one.

author by Chekovpublication date Tue Mar 23, 2004 17:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As somebody who works in the South Inner city and who lives in the North inner city I can state with a fair amount of certainty that "South City against the war", "Drumcondra against the war" and "Phibsboro against the war", all of which had delegates at the meeting, do not exist in any meaningful sense. All three were never anything more than SWP branches that briefly called themselves anti-war groups towards the start of 2003, and then resurrected themselves as anti-war groups for this 'delegate' meeting. The delegates were representing the SWP, not any anti-war group. There were no meetings to mandate the delegates (or if there were they were held in secret without posters or any other form of advertisement)

Since this is true of all three groups from my area, I assume that the chances of it being true of the other 'delegates' is also true.

author by OISINTApublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 00:43author email omegaman133 at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

We marched in 1969/1973/1978/1982/1988 and here it comes around again. Same old tune.

All We Are Saying................Give Peace A Chance.

When will They Ever Learn, when will they ever learn.

In twenty/thirty years the same old tune will be played once more. And who really gives a shit.


author by Andmoreagainpublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 01:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is the same old tune, previous hippie, for a reason. I like the letters from the ISN. I don't know any of these people, but they sound like types I would like to know. The criticisms are reasonable and nuanced and deserve credit. The SWP has succeeded in radically fragmenting the movement, and now people are reclaiming it. Without meaningful debate on how to run a movement, a movement would die. Sixties platitudes really don't work in the 21st century. Keep on marching, but spare us the cliches.

author by Fintan Lane - Cork Anti-War Campaignpublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 01:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm not surprised to read that the ISN received no response to their initial letter to the IAWM (SWP) steering committee. My resignation as PRO, and from the steering committee, was not acknowledged in any sense, except that I was immediately deleted from the IAWM SC emailing list. No letter, no email, no phone call.

The disaffiliation of the Cork Anti-War Campaign got their attention, but only insofar as they wanted to know if we were still organising a bus to the Dublin march (which we were).

At the very least, I found their behaviour to be discourteous, but there is clearly more to it than that.

author by John - ISN- personal capacitypublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 11:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am the organiser of Finglas Against the War, a broad grouping that organised a number of activities in Finglas. I asked Richard Boyd Barrett for a list of names of anybody from finglas that joined the IAWM or attended meetings so I could contact them to get involved. I requested this information on several occasions. I asked Paul Moloney to raise this at a IAWM steering group meeting, he did so and was assured the names would be forthcoming. They never arrived. I met with Richard Boyd Barrett and Kieran Allen early 2003 (13th May) at their request to discuss their "left block proposal" during this meeting I mentioned the fact that RBB had not forwarded the list of names. RBB said it was just an oversight and implied I was being paranoid about the whole thing. He reassured me the list was on the way. Well one year later and -guess what -it never surfaced.

The only conclusion that I have made is that the SWP have decided that the IAWM is a tool of theirs. They control it in every way they decide who speaks at public meetings, who issues press statements and who has contact with the "non aligned" anti war general public.

Its a great pity that they operate in this way. RBB is a very capable communicator. I saw him on Q&A and he did the anti war movement proud but I know that the steering group, or whatever the leadership is called, didn't decide who would go on Q&A . I doubt that the invite was even discussed.

Maybe some good will come from this fiasco. Groups will be more reluctant to affiliate to "umbrellas" without first discussing its "internal dynamics", how decisions are made, who holds what responsibility, who can affialiate, what constitutes a group etc. Personally, I won't be supporting any participation by the ISN in any "umbrella groups" unless I am clear about its democratic credentials.

author by IAWM watchpublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 11:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The musicians union just affiliated.
Deckchairs - Titanic - 'Nearer my God to thee'

author by Pablo Montana - nonepublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 12:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The problem is that the lazy media will continue to call on RBB to coment for the Irish Anti War groups even though the IAWM is as good as dead and is little more than the SWP now.

author by Anonymouspublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 12:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors


As if everything else with the IAWM (Swp) was not disappointing enough as it is, their lack of response to the CAWC disaffiliation only adds to the disappointment with their behavior. I saw one response from Aoife Ni Fhearghail posted up on Indymedia from "Badman". Have you seen this?? But I'm not too sure if this was an internal response and not a direct response to the CAWC. Apart from this I am aware of no other response from the IAWM (Swp) to any of the other groups and individuals who disaffiliated from the IAWM.

It is great to see Richard Boyd Barrett coherently and professionally put forth the anti war case in the media. It is good too, to create one recognizable face and name for the public.

However, it is such a shame that the Swp have attempted to undo all their good work with their subsequent undemocratic behavior. This behavior, for the more important longer haul, must be changed.

But, as always, I encourage the Swp to be worked with for common goals, eg. the Bush visit. The government are doing their utmost to quell the rapidly growing left and anti-war movement in Ireland. They know we are becoming a threat. Their undemocratic crackdown on posters and leaflets in Dublin being the obvious current case in point example of this at the moment. Another example is McDowell, who reads this site - I once heard him comment on it on radio while I was driving down to the big Shannon protest, a year ago in March. His hugely defensive, near hysterical and critical remarks on Indymedia, I believe, betrayed his worries of "us" becoming a threat.

Whatever our internal grievances, I believe they must not allowed to become personal and the government (both here and abroad) must be challenged, opposed and defeated in a strong, coherent, professional and organized manner.

Regards & Solidarity,

author by Anon anonpublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 13:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"But, as always, I encourage the Swp to be worked with for common goals, eg. the Bush visit. "

I think people have to get out of the mindset of 'working with the Swp', its time we were in the position to say we've got no problem if the Swp work with us but first things first, here's a few democratic ground rules.

author by Joanpublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 17:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think anybody would have a problem working with the SWP if they were genuinely open to it. Unfortunately, as is obvious by their ignoring of Fintan's resignation letter and that from the ISN, they don't view non-SWP activists with any respect. It seems that you either agree with them 100% (or keep your dissent private & quiet) or they'll piss all over you.

The SWP see the antiwar movement as a way of gettting their own organisation and leading members airtime and attention in the newspapers. But what is the objective of all this? If Brid Smith and Richard Boyd Barrett win council seats (COUNCIL seats!) how is that going to help the antiwar movement?? The answer is 'not at all' because in reality this is all about giving the SWP a leg up.

They're standing on our backs to build their organisation.

author by Anonpublication date Wed Mar 24, 2004 23:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Who is left on the IAWM/SWP committee now besides SWP members? Are the SP still involved? Raymond Deane? Colin Coulter?

author by Cult Watchpublication date Thu Mar 25, 2004 12:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yes the SP and the IPSC remain the only significant organisations affiliated. Not a peep from either of them, officially at least, about the suspensions, SWP manouverings etc. Looks like they are keeping their heads down hoping it will all blow over.

Non SWP individuals remaining on the Steering Comm. are Colin Coulter and Glenda Cimono. Its not clear whether Mary Van Leishout is still involved and the Greens seem to have ended their semi-detached involvement. It's a SWP front full stop. None of the groups or individuals mentioned have challenged the SWP over their disastrous handling of this crisis.

author by no 6publication date Thu Mar 25, 2004 14:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"But, as always, I encourage the Swp to be worked with for common goals, eg. the Bush visit. "

Bollocks faffing about on indymedia about solidarity and unity, and pleading "why can't we work together" does not mean you're encouraging unity, what pratical work are you doing to achieve this you lazy anonymous git???

"I believe, betrayed his worries of "us" becoming a threat."

Yeah he's terrified of someone who won't even sign their name on a website. Don't kid yourself that hanging around here spouting crap is making Mc Dowell lose sleep...

"Whatever our internal grievances, I believe they must not allowed to become personal and the government (both here and abroad) must be challenged, opposed and defeated in a strong, coherent, professional and organized manner."

*Sound of vigorous wanking coming from Anonymous terminal*
as he believes by spouting shite about unity on indymedia that he's actually making a difference

author by RBB ina shuipublication date Thu Mar 25, 2004 18:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

..... a steering committee of 4 SWP members, one SP, one IPSC and one non-aligned.
Very representative of the movement!

author by Long-time Palestine activistpublication date Thu Mar 25, 2004 19:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I haven't attended many IPSC meetings recently so perhaps I don't have the right to comment because I've clearly missed the discussions on this issue. However, I think it does our campaign a serious disservice to be associated with the IAWM. From everything I've heard and observed, it is very obviously an SWP front organisation. The issue of Palestine should not be used cynically to bolster a small ultra-left party. I don't understand why the IPSC is still affiliated. It shouldn't be.

author by IPSC member - IPSC (personal capacity)publication date Mon Mar 29, 2004 01:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The IPSC affiliated to the IAWM as the most effective way of contributing to the broader anti-war movement. We had also previously agreed to be a supporter (i think that was the term) of the NGO Peace Alliance, but had never paid an affiliation fee. Personally I would have felt the NGOPA was much more suitable as a home for us, in terms of the style of organisation etc, but by the time the question of how best to play our part in the anti-war movement and whether or not to affiliate to the IAWM came up the NGO Peace Alliance had in my view utterly disgraced itself in their response to non-violent action in Shannon, and I think most members of the IPSC felt the same way. This left us with the IAWM as the best way of playing our part.

I don't, and I suspect most members of the IPSC don't, want to be drawn into internal feuds in the anti-war movement. I don't see what purpose would be served by our disaffiliating from the IAWM. At the same time, I'd be supportive of our geting involved in Irish Anti-War. And I think the SWP really need to rethink their approach - but what's the chances of that? Roll up, roll up for the Stop Bush Campaign... sigh...

author by Joe J.publication date Mon Mar 29, 2004 02:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The point of the IPSC disaffiliating from the IAWM is very simple: to make it clear to the SWP that we will not allow them to use issues like the war on Iraq and Palestine in a cynical manner for party-political gain.

If the IPSC doesn't disaffiliate it's accepting the rigging of meetings by the SWP and the completely underhand way they have operated within the IAWM. Does the IPSC want to play the role of SWP stooges? Yourselves and the Socialist Party are the only ones left and I doubt if the SP will be staying for much longer.

Anyway, a new more open movement has emerged from amongst genuine anti-war activists. Why don't you get involved in Anti-War Ireland?

author by jantypublication date Mon Mar 29, 2004 18:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SP have no love affair for the SWP. If the IAWM turns into simply another SWP dominated front then I am sure they will follow the ISN and others and leave, or at least become inactive in it. If another broader anti war group emerges that does get wider support then I am sure the SP will be active in that.

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