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Anti-war hangover in Dublin - reports and images from yesterday's march.
Most of the population would have been getting out of bed this morning with a raging hangover. Mid afternoon people would be wiping the crust from their eyes, and making their way into town for a fry up, trying to recollect all the hazy memories of the night before, when the crowds were out and everyone was fired up with enthusiasm.
Thus I couldnt help but think that this day was very fitting for the anti-war march in Dublin. Approximately eight hundred people marched from the Garden of Remembrance to the end of Grafton Street, stopping briefly on O'Connell Bridge for a barely-registered two minute silence, then looped around back to the GPO. At the start of the rally where people assembled for speeches, there were numerous references made to three years ago where 100,000 people marched in town. This march today just seemed like a bad hangover for the Irish anti-war movement (no capitals). Hazy memories of when the crowds were out and everyone was fired up with enthusiasm, now long lost to the mists of time.
People give out about marching and saying that direct action is a better way to get results. I think marches are important now and again but they have to be happening in a continuum of other actions. People were paying attention on the streets today, stopping to watch and listen, curious and perhaps secretly hoping for some disorder like last month; but marching around town on a Saturday once a year is simply not enough. Even the choice of the location for the end of the march has never varied much, either the GPO or Merrion Square. Top Oil, the company involved in refuelling the planes in Shannon, run a station on Amiens Street. This could easily be the finishing point for speeches - thus having your rally -and- shutting down a business profiting from war. Alas, this never happens. The level of adventurous thinking by the groups involved in antiwar activities seems to be very low.
There was a small red and black bloc of about 60 who branched off at the bottom of Grafton Street, up towards the Dáil and then the Department of Justice on Stephens Green. I dont know if anything happened with this or not, but even when they split off, I just felt there was something... inevitable or predictable about the way it happened. The stewards freaked out for a minute, and the rest of the crowd were briefly confused about what way to go or what was going on, but then just rejoined the larger section and marched on. Nobody seemed really interested in why the bloc was splitting off, what they were doing, or possibly even joining them.
I remember once at some meeting or other about three years ago, someone made a point about how the antiwar movement needed victories. There havent been any at all... and I guess this is demoralising. When it emerged late last year that the CIA had used Shannon as a stopover for the torture express, this was met with a deafening silence. Nobody seems to have any ideas on how to re-energise it or re-invent it as a cause to get angry about, so perhaps the State has won. Today's march will ultimately be forgotten and ignored by those in power... other methods and opportunities of putting the spotlight back on the State's complicity in the "War on Terror" must be explored, otherwise antiwar activities in Ireland are doomed to failure and ever-decreasing support...