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Davy Carlin – Belfast Calling

category antrim | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Thursday January 17, 2008 13:20author by Davy Carlin Report this post to the editors

A ‘Vision of our future

Now - ‘Arise from your slumber.

One year ago to this very day I had put up an article on my online Diary entitled, ‘Step by Step to Journeys end – A new beginning’ Link –

Indeed there has been much of that word that I have long used, that of ‘Change’ - Yes, that change, the Peace Progress, and with that the Progressive Movement for change.

Now this new online series that I put up on Indymedia will last 33 months, that is, until my 40th birthday. And those that have followed those footsteps – like those made in the sand – can continue to follow that Journey, step by step – that new journey that is to be embarked on -on this site.

It will cover activism, thoughts on local and International issues, and other such. And while I was going to take a step back, there are though essential issues that do need to be addressed – as we move forward, seeking unity in the process.

Below I give links to important events and a number of quotes from my previous writings as so to give an understanding of that change that we have come through and of those Movements visible and otherwise that had played {and will play} an essential role in all that has been moved to happen.

Firstly though a few points on the Peace Progress

I read in recent times of those who think that now we have the Assembly that that is it, or now it is all so boring. Indeed I can understand the ‘buzz of War, I can understand the ‘buzz of such ‘on the edge’ activism, and at times situations of life and death, of the camaraderie, of the mass mobilisations etc.

Yet we do have issues of life of death, the health service for a start, we have issues that will effect the generations growing up, from education through to housing. Indeed it is not the cut and thrust of ‘War but it is as real, and deals with real issues that effect real people – and therefore the Journey of Change continues.

For me I deal with the reality, and at this moment, I believe, it is about {as what I have stated before}, that of seeking to ‘revolutionise, to change things from the status quo for the better for all our citizens. Indeed it is better to win and seek such change rather than remaining static or even slipping back to the days of the murder, mayhem and brutality that effected so many, in many ways.

Self interest should not be put above the interest of our citizens and important issues such as I have stated above, and other issues like Devolution of ‘Policing and Justice’, the Irish Language Act, the 11 plus, dealing with the past, and many other issues, are indeed important for many, {and that is the reality} and I will give my thoughts on all such on this thread.

On each I will state how I believe such can be dealt with – in real terms given our situation – while still holding my own beliefs.

Again steps forward, rather that remaining static.

Indeed whatever those on the left say, it was a step forward from War, to where we are now. Indeed I know many who have far more opportunities and are able to live out their dreams who never thought it would be possible. In saying that there are still many who live in poverty, many who are moved to take their own lives, and these issues and more need to be addressed, and it is we as citizens who can seek such change from below – as we have done in the past.

I will not be engaging on this thread but seeking to use it in similar terms as I did with a previous thread –

1} Links to Movements of Change
2} Movements and History
3} Links to quotes of Change -{WAR and PEACE}.

1} Links to Movements of Change

Growing up in West Belfast -
An Historic Beginning and Ending -
A Progressive Movement for Change -

2} Movements and History

Anti War -
Anti Racism -
Anti Poverty –
Trade Union Militancy -
Falls and Shankill March as one -

3} Links to quotes of Change.


1} -I also remember another occasion when it was a lorry full of roller boots and eventually ‘the kids’ armed with the speed of those roller boots and the knowledge of the alley ways, then took to making home made ‘catties’ (catapults) made out of a wire coat hanger, elastic bands and a piece of leather. With that then for a few days one felt confident enough to skate forward with the very small army of seven to twelve year old ‘roller booters’, and armed with the wee catties, to then take on the might of British Imperialism and every thing she could throw at the kids in the form of her tanks, trucks, personnel carriers etc. It was not the classic guerrilla hit and run tactic but I think some may have been responsible for inventing the first ever hit and roller tactic’.

2} -With a scarf around my head and little black hands sticking out of the sleeves of my jumper, I did not realise that I was not fully covered, but it didn't matter. We rocked and rocked on the large van as it swayed to and fro seeking to turn it over before setting it alight. One of the older boys told me to get back but I wanted to be part of turning it over, I wanted the barricades and road blocks up before those 'Black Bastards' came.

I rocked the van with many other of the older boys with my tiny child hands before one of the boys removed me to the side. I stood there wide eyed, covered in dirt and smelling of burning tyres and more, as I looked up and down the Road waiting for those hateful Brits.

As I did my anger built and my adrenaline grew as I held bottle and brick in hand watching all unfold before me.

I could feel the sheer anger burning in the back of my throat, as I waited once again for them to come.
I was but a child, but had lived already to date, the life of a wronged man’.

3} -Now he looked into the eyes of a primary school child, a child no longer remembered, a child with a bottle and liquid inside – a bomb in hand.

Indeed looking at that ‘unknown child, such was his eyes, though he carried no gun, I believe had he been given a gun he would very well have used it – Yes I believe that child had taken enough, indeed everything that could have been, had been thrown against him’.

4} -Now once again in my life I was now seeing eyes of defiance and also now of hate emerging as I looked into that mirror. From fear, to tears, to a smile, and of now slightly laughing to oneself at my image in that mirror, I then walked back out the door of my home and made my way down my street onto the Falls road to join the gathering crowd, but now this time,

- for the first time,

stopping to pick up bricks and any unbroken bottles I could find on my way.

- I was but seven years old, yet I had taken enough' - .

5} - It was not long after Bobby Sands death and others locally that I had went back to the Murph. On doing so I had went back upon Black Mountain one evening and sat and listened to the war and all the events below.

Then it had started to rain ever so lightly and with that I knelt up upon my knees with my arms out stretched, and looked up to the heavens as the rain slowly came down and soothed my skin, and in part my mind. And with that, and from that position, and from the very depths of my soul, from the very core of my being I let out the most almighty and heart wrenching cry which echoed not only around the streets below, but I believed around the city of Belfast.

As a child, I had no gun - but nevertheless, I too was fighting a war’.


1} - and then there where the young soldiers again from working class areas, many joining up as such areas afforded little other chance of getting out’

2} - And so as the leaders of parties and countries assembled at Stormont with the world’s media there, our plane took of from the isle of Ireland. And with that I first looked out the window as we rose into the ‘Sky, and then looked to Marie and smiled a peaceful and chilled smile. Then I noticed her pentacle that I had bought her, worn by many who hold a belief in Wicca. Indeed it was a star shape that many believe offers protection, and hope. A star of hope -that Marie carries on her person, and I have long carried also -in my heart and mind’.

3}- For me May the 17th was to be a day to chill and much would have been put to ease, and in thought I had visioned a place where this would be moved to be. And so on May the 16th in a far of land, in a place known locally as Witches Hill, what had been in mind we had happened upon with ease. It was a place where neither Marie nor I had ever known or had been, but it was as I had in mind. Now as we sat only Marie and I beside a lake, with fish jumping up out of the water and trees on hills enclosing us, the sun had shone right across the lake and onto us – with that we listened to the quietness of nature – and held hands.

Then we sat there and chilled until nightfall and watched as only two stars appeared in the sky.
Indeed as we had sat there that day, holding hands, it was to be the case that on that very day and for the very first time publicly back in Belfast, that key figures of the IRA Army Council and the UDA Inner Council had met - and shook hands’

4} — And so, that once child of the Ghettos, now the man, arose to his feet, under the roof of the once Bastion of unionist mis-rule – and at this Journeys end -

And with that - he looked once more around the council chambers, briefly, at the sheer make up of grassroots citizens etc, from many sections of our society, and with that,

- he breathed in – then spoke -


5} - And now as I dandered back home 25 years on from that time, I had took my hood down and looked up towards Black Mountain and the Heavens, and felt that rain ever so lightly once again on my face - but this time I had smiled - as I knew that my War was over’.

author by Dpublication date Thu Jan 17, 2008 13:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Related Link:
author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I read of many who had ‘lost loved ones during the recent War and how they wish to see such dealt with.

There are those who just want to leave the past in the past, there are those who seek the truth, then there are those who seek truth and justice.

Indeed, presently, it is that ‘middle ground that needs to be found and provided for, for those who wish to participate.

For me I had known dozens that where murdered by all sides, may it have been at the hand of Republicans, Socialists, Loyalists, Unionists, the state, or their playthings. And I also know that outside the deaths and the injuries that many many more where affected in many other differing ways.

Just one example,

Link -

Here is a few paragraphs I had written several years ago, and speaks of the death and pain that was visited upon the community that I was born into and reared.

Yet Pain was visited upon many such working class communities, from the Falls to the Shankill and heart break went into many homes not only here but also followed the bodies of young soldiers into their homes as many were brought back to their working class estates of England, Scotland and Wales.


‘It was a cold freezing Sunday afternoon in November 2005 when Marie and I had left our Turf Lodge {Turf} home and had made our way to the centre of the estate. We where on our way to the unveiling and the opening of the Memorial Garden, situated at the entrance of the Ballymurphy, {Murph} estate – {the heart of the Irish War}.

We had met up with some relatives and then with others had assembled firstly in Turf Lodge as we prepared to march to the Murph estate. As we then set of and marched up through Turf and had got to the top of the hill I had looked back, and as far as the eye could see, behind us lines of people were on the streets marching and making their way up the hill.

As we got to the entrance of the Murph estate I looked at the gathering crowd and had seen many faces of old including ex POW’s, friends and relatives alike, gather together in our many hundreds on that cold frosty late afternoon.

As we had listened to the speeches and the names being read out, one could begin to realise the extent of the ‘loss’ of life from this small community alone over the years, if one had known little of such before hand.

Yet gathering there and before the lament played I had looked to my immediate left and seen a black flag flutter from a relatives window, further to my left and through a gap I seen the bedroom window that I had been brought back to, {my home}, in 1970 at the beginnings of the recent war. Indeed it is an estate that in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s that had housed 50 plus of my immediate relatives through that time, and houses many still today.

Then as the ‘last post sounded, Marie’s head had snuggled closer into my chest and with a lump in my throat I listened to the last throes of the last post, which although symbolic, could have seemed as much almost pre written.

This because as the last post’s final cords had echoed around the Ballymurphy estate on that cold frosty November afternoon 2005, the red sun had finally disappeared behind our Black Mountain leaving us in even more darkness as those final cords rang out, as if also offering a final goodbye.

{Note - Black Mountain, our mountain, the people’s mountain, has won yet another award. So to add to the National Lottery award it has won an Aisling award. On my death I have wished it that some of my ashes are let ‘free’ upon Black Mountain. Also as I had raised recently, {Falls park} millions of pounds is now to be poured into our parks { and surrounding areas} as so to clean them up and to keep them secure}

While standing there, and for a very brief moment while the rosary had been said at the ceremony, I had went back in mind to the mid 1970’s as a child, and probably to the very spot in which I was standing 30 years on.

‘Get into the Fuckers’ was the shout as youth tooled up and masked up, armed with everything at hand where getting wired into the army tanks as a British convoy made its way along the road. For me I did not get involved, as it was still to be a while yet before I as a child had been ‘driven’ to re – act into such action by the ‘Brits’.

This reaction was to come from a once passive child.

I then looked at the side of what was the memorial garden in Nov 2005 and had remembered the ‘climbing’ wall I had used to play on.

Then I felt Marie snuggle even closer within November 2005 so I returned back from my childhood of the Murph of 1975 to join her and in doing so had glanced at yet another face in the crowd and it spoke of yet more memories.
With that, and with the speeches etc finished we then had went into the marvellous memorial garden. And as my wife and I looked at the 125 or so names on the plaques, I had seen, at a glance, no less that five names of men, women and children who in some way where related to Marie or I, that had been murdered by the British state, may it have been by their ‘legitimate army’ or by their loyalist playthings whom they directed.

Yet there are many more memorials with many more names of those whom I had known.

I had also read at least twelve other family names I had known, while other names again I had seen being shot as a child. In doing so it had left a feeling in my gut and had later seen a look in my eyes that I had not felt or witnessed since a child of seven.

And so -

{Putting aside the fact that the Shinners and the SDLP are tearing lumps out of each other over this issue},

- It though poses an important question as to those hundreds that where maimed and murdered by British State collusion and how families deal with that situation. For many many such families there will be no closure, as such, until they at least get to the truth of the matter.

- This is not only necessary but indeed it is a necessity of such a continuing post conflict situation and bringing some form of reconciliation and peace in that regard, this not only for present but for future generations.

- When a state murders its own citizens, men, women and children and does it under whatever guise, then the relatives should be entitled to the minimum of truth and for the state to admit that it has done wrong.

Just one example, my mother and laws mother, had fought long and hard until her death given the murder of her innocent child by the state. That fight continues with my mother in law for her brother and my wife for her uncle, and younger generations again standing on pickets or on marches in that call - with me and many others also standing with them. Yet this is just one example of the generations who will continue to fight for and call for such justice, there are hundreds more individual cases with such family generational input.

This issue is an essential part of ‘any’ such peace process for families and wider society. What is needed, at this point in time, and what is essential, is an International independent judicial enquiry into such deaths- {for those that wish such}

-And on the wider issue an independent international truth commission -.

The ‘war may be over but this battle continues, as to ensure that for many {present and continual generations} that in some ways they can begin to find some ‘peace in mind’ in this local peace process as is befitting any ‘such peace process’ that offers such closure.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Fri Jan 25, 2008 16:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Below I give a brief record {in regard to Belfast} I had written at the time of the Largest Anti Sectarian mobilisations ever seen during the ‘Troubles, against the murder of a young postal worker.

Aspects of the record of such times are as relevant today {as lessons learnt}, and in coming times, although in a less visible form.

Indeed Sectarianism is still with us and can be seen still on the streets and articulated still by some politicians – yet as always, it needs to be tackled in the here and now in all its forms, until that that gives it rise, has gone.

A Continual Progressive Movement '4 Change.

From the onset -

-'Eventually we were to create a space from where a new form of working together, engagement, open discussion between various organisations - and mobilising on common cause would take place -.

-It would be where the left and progressive forces were taking unified and mass actions on common beliefs - and a new working relationship between most of such organisations could and would begin -.

The Historic Mobilisations against Sectarianism

'It had started back at the time when Daniel McColgan, a postal worker, was murdered by -loyalist paramilitaries.

Our comrades with others pressed for action within the unions including that of the CWU (postal workers union) and within wider society.

With the then postal worker walkouts and a ground swell coming from below, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) was moved into calling for action. With that we worked relentlessly to build the march.

In W/Belfast for example we went into shops, colleges, workplaces and community centres and argued for walkouts.

We met trade unionists and addressed groups of workers who wanted to know more.

Our poster ‘Shut Down Northern Ireland’ went up in shop windows, community centres, bars, work places, colleges etc the length and breath of the West.

This was being replicated by comrades in other 'communities, trade unions, workplaces colleges etc.

The press then carried half page pictures of Socialist Worker posters on the day of the stoppages, including on the front pages of the North’s largest papers -

- while comrades also spoke from platforms on the day.

Our work having being recognised not only within aspects of the media, communities and workplaces that day, it was also eventually acknowledged by the ICTU.

We knew that such a demo eventually, thirty thousand strong, in Belfast was a 'vitally important issue and we had 'thrown everything into it with others to make it come around.

We had seen people in their tens of thousands rally on a common issue and we had played a not unimportant role in it.

This was reflected afterwards where the {Belfast} SWP hosted a meeting after the rally and despite hiring out the bottom floor of Robinson’s nite club we still had to unfortunately turn away over one hundred persons who had wanted to listen to what we were saying, but no overspill rooms could be found.

- It was a lesson though we {and I} were to take into the following year and the Anti War Movement {- and then into the Anti Racism – Anti Poverty – And the ‘Progressive Movement for Change} Movements –

- that of a unity for a common purpose' -
- {‘Visible and otherwise}

-and of building for mass mobilisation'


author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One more link that is important in this ongoing series

Link -


For me politics was and is about effecting change where one can, and where one finds it more difficult to do such, to then inspire and empower, while moving, driving, and dragging issues forward.

It was and is about dealing and learning with and from the past, to seek change in the present, as so to achieve a better future.

And it was and is about building, Campaigns, Movements and Networks {‘visible and otherwise} to attempt to see this though.

And as I said before, many the world over have followed and do follow the Politics in this small piece of land, including that of those mass mobilisations - Movements, Campaigns and Networks of Catholic Protestant and Dissenter, as recorded through out previous links – and to the now arrival to the Peace Progress.

Indeed the Irish are not only followed the world over but are found the world over – at times in huge numbers

As I had wrote on Sept 11 2003 in my West Belfast Series {Part 4}

‘A few years back Marie and I had the opportunity to visit North Africa. Sitting on an isolated beach one evening as the sun was setting we heard in the distance music. While we could almost make out the song, which we believed we recognised, we however still strained to hear it. So we went to investigate as to where it was coming from and to find out what the song was.

As we got closer we began to make out its lyrics, which to our surprise came from an Irish Republican song. The music directed us to a hotel just along and off the beach, and on arrival other such songs mixed in with ‘some traditional Irish music’ met us. They were coming from an ‘African DJ’ whom had one parent of ‘Irish dissent’ and had visited Ireland on a few occasions, where he had acquired such music. Yet to us it was a surprise to hear such, such a long way of from Ireland. So while chatting to him he said he considered himself African and Irish, an ‘African-Irishman’. I have continually found though that ‘the Irish’ can be found all over the world’

For me whether one believes in Nation states or not, perception is a powerful thing – and that is the reality.

Indeed I remember giving a speech at ‘Armagh College {at a Partners in Pluralism Conference} where within that speech I told of a time I was walking through an estate I had not been before and at the corner had stood a couple of youths drinking. With that, one of the youths shouted over ‘Nigger, a word that had not been said to my face in many a year. With that, and in my broadest Belfast accent I replied ‘what’s your problem mucker’ – or words to the effect –

His answer is still in my mind – ‘Oh sorry mate I didn’t know you where one of us’

Therefore my accent of a local part of a Nation State {the same as his} had ascended above the colour of my skin and of the origin he had perceived me to be

On such Nationalism, and as I have said before – that you cannot eat a flag, but Nationalism is strong and can be and is used to great effect by good speakers, for good or bad.

Yet in a way Nationalism is the new journey that I embark on – and before there is an aghast, it is a Nation state Journey of my life, and once again that of Imperialism, Colonialism, and indeed Slavery, that I will embark on.

Indeed as I get older while seeing - moving through with others Real and historic change, and seeing those mass Movements and working class victories, there is things in ones life one still wishes to fulfil as well.

Indeed my Journey from the Ghettos of the BallyMurhpy estate to now, some say, has been a truly Epic one, and many people see it primarily at times from the situation of a Black kid from such Ghettoes. Yet for me I had not seen it in that way to such an extent, but merely as a working class lad.

A working class kid who is about effecting change in the community that he lives for the betterment of the working class community, effecting change in society for the benefit of society, and effecting change at time Internationally for those most in need.

Yet of late there has been a yearning in me, a yearning to see the final jigsaw put into place, and with that in the time ahead I will embark on that final journey.

Below these points is a brief account {as written previously} of my history of my Grandparents from my mothers and stepfather side of my family.

And so my final journey {and although all but finished, will hold of my book as so this can go in} will be to trace my ancestry on my biological fathers side.

Indeed it will, eventually, take Marie and me to the other side of the world, and it will be to search for the final side of my ancestry - but one again as stated it will entail Imperialism, Colonialism, and indeed that of historical slavery.

It may be emotional and hard journey, but nevertheless it is a journey that I myself now feel that I am ready to travel, and to bring all to an end.

As written previously – {both my grandfathers now past on}
Mums side –

‘In Ballymurphy a young Gerry Adams had lived a few doors away from me, also my grandfather Jim Carlin (I was born on the 4th of October 1970 and I lived with my grandmother and grandfather for my first several years) was in the Ballymurphy Tenants Association (BTA) in those earliest of years along with Frank Cahill, the brother of veteran Republican Joe Cahill.

At times the BTA had held its meetings in our home where my mum would serve up tea and biscuits and would also have helped out at some of the social functions etc organised by the BTA. My home was also where people would come into our garden in large numbers to pray as their sons and daughters went of to defend the Murph, and so my Gran became known as the Rosary woman’.

And on my step -fathers –

‘My stepfather's father was in the Irish Republican Brotherhood and one of the {if not the first in Belfast} to get the cat of nine tails’.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Quote -

‘And so with our arrival back home it was to be 37 days from the 8th of May {and that Historic day} in which for the first time I would stand and address those gathered in the council chambers of the once bastion of Unionist mis-rule -

- that of Belfast City Hall.

And so it was on June 14th 2007 that Marie and I made our way past the front of City Hall at 7pm to another entrance, as on that night the gates had been locked up.

- - -And as we got out of the taxi I held Marie’s hand and on this instance I realised a Black hand intertwined with that of a white hand, and with that we made our way through security - - -.

My invite had originated from the heart of Loyalist and Protestant working class communities, from community organisations of the Shankill Road and from the Mount ‘Vernon estate, amongst others.

Although from the ‘Republican Heartlands’ it was indeed such working class ‘Loyalist communities that had afforded me my first such platform and I was glad and privileged to be asked to speak at another such event, these years later, and at this important time’.

-- -Indeed only at times does it dawn on me that I am actually ‘Black.

Yet on that particular day as I looked and realised a ‘Black man’s hand holding a white woman’s hand – and as we made our way into the ‘Chambers in which we would sit together - that bond, that visible unity held - that star of hope and a mind for change – eventually, had together taken us to this time and to this place.

And as I had rose to my feet and spoke those opening words of


I thought once more of that unity for a common purpose –

From my earliest of recent activism through to recent times may it have been at one time ‘Vice Chair of NIPSA branch 8 through to ‘Chair of the Anti Racism Movement – Vice and Chair, had both seen in much Progressive change - not only for those we campaigned for but for the wider interests of the majority of citizens.

For me it was and is about reaching out and dealing with reality rather than creating a reality. At times I was hammered by the ‘Left for some decisions I had taken, yet I look at those now who had criticised me and look at oneself now – and think what if I had remained in the purism, in the somersault politics, in the formula politics, within the straight jacket of dogma - and of what the difference would have been.

And as I looked at those who had criticised - and to now and the change seen through with others in my local community, in wider society and at times International, for working class communities, for citizens as a whole, and for those most in need – I know that I am on the correct path.

Indeed I have always been for getting into the heart of the beast, supported by the Movements of Change, and each gain each step forward; each Progressive change, was and is better that remaining static or heckling from the side lines. And where change is more difficult to gain, well, to create in that place inspiration, empowerment and hope - will make it all the easier to achieve.

And as I said above in a previous writing –

‘My invite had originated from the heart of Loyalist and Protestant working class communities, from community organisations of the Shankill Road and from the Mount ‘Vernon estate, amongst others

Although from the ‘Republican Heartlands’ it was indeed such working class ‘Loyalist communities that had afforded me my first such platform and I was glad and privileged to be asked to speak at another such event, these years later, and at this important time’.

Indeed on one of the leaders of Loyalism I had said previous

‘Indeed one just has to look at the life of David Ervine {recently deceased}. A person I had met on many occasions, -{I had engaged with Loyalism from my earliest of Political years and was condemned by some on the Left and isolated from others for doing so, including that of my then Political Leadership {PC}, who told me that I was on my own in that regard, but I knew there was Political Purism and ‘Godly Tradition and then there was that of the reality and of the Necessity – and it did not matter to me that some attempted to call me a ‘Half Prod, indeed I was proud of it} - and who I in the decades ahead will say to those closet to oneself, ‘yes it was men and women like him, in the latter stages, who played their part to attempt to move to the society that we have today, and to lay the groundwork for the future – this despite their past.
This through attempting, as much as the constraints allowed them to, to begin to move working class communities forward from a war footing. He of course had that past, as did and do many similar, but it will be that of his recent Present that will be remembered more in the future – I believe.

This was reflected in not only the turnout at his funeral but on the make up of that turnout. Indeed, I believe that on only one other occasion in the whole History of the recent Irish War, has the leaderships of Loyalism and Republicanism openly stood shoulder to shoulder, having been brought together.

And that was done visibly several years prior under and throughout the banner of the Anti
Racism Network in which I, also a David, was founding member and Chairperson of.

{ An ARN Rally – ‘So with many {thousands} attending we saw trade union banners from the FBU, NIPSA, NAFHE and UNISON amongst others. Trades Union Council banners stood also shoulder-to-shoulder with minority ethnic support organisations banners. Human rights banners stood beside homemade banners. Community representatives and workers from the Shankill to the Falls Road were in attendance. From the Village to Twinbrook, from North, South, East, and West Belfast they came. Republican and Loyalist, Nationalist and Unionist, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter all represented. The ARN now with the support of the trade union movement and many others had stood shoulder to shoulder, spoke out, and stood firm}.

Indeed ‘Reaching Out {to the more progressive representatives and respected community activists}, as I had both articulated and Practiced from my earliest of days, was essential to achieve that, as recorded elsewhere.

And yes, I say this of a man who belonged to an organisation that had murdered those who I had known.

- - -Yet it was on the first such public platform with Loyalism that I write of. My invite came from the late Billy Mitchell who I had engagement with over many a year and a cup a tea at his offices and through the Blanket website.

One such article is on the issue of Religion –

An issue that I will do another article on in the time ahead.

The Platform I was to go on was to be at the PUP conference itself and the issue was the 11plus.

Indeed it is some of the small things that I remember, such as when I had got there a guy had pulled at my top and looked at me, and I did not realise to later, that I had worn a ‘combat’ type top to this conference . And although ‘trendy’ in some circles I later realised that it may have been seen in a very different light amongst some of those in attendance.

That evening I had shared the platform with Billy Hutchinson of the PUP amongst others. Yet after we had all sat down to eat and as the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland took to the Podium I had thought to myself who would have ever dreamed that a kid from the Republican Headlands and the Ghettoes of the BallyMurphy estate would be sitting in the Heartlands of Loyalism surrounded by Loyalist community activists and ‘others, and with the British Secretary of state on the podium.

Yet it was change, in part – and something I with others had widened out within an eventual Movement of Movements {Visible and otherwise} by creating with others {as witnessed through out past writings} what I had termed as Political Momentum– as so to play my part in effecting real change.

Yet my politics remain the same, but realise change, ‘presently’ is won step by step, as a step forward, indeed a working class and societal progressive gain is better than remaining static.
Link to my speech –

Yet there are many issue of working class concern to be addressed, like educational facilities for example. The Conway Mill - which I had wrote about firstly in my West Belfast Series, then in my on line Diary - January 17th, 2007

‘- In my previous inputs I had again raised the essential issue of funding for Conway Mill in West Belfast. Well in this last input I am pleased to report that it is now to be funded to the tune of several millions, and similar to the West Belfast festival, it to received the funding required, as did other important initiatives’.

Yet in the coming months working class communities need to feel the real benefit of the Peace Progress and to visibly see it at work in such communities, Catholic and Protestant. Indeed as we move on to our future, the poverty and the alienation needs to be tackled as so not to return to the days of old.

And on that point it is the ‘40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement soon, and I read so many accounts of so many claiming its origins. Indeed such previous had taught me a lesson to write at the time of such movements {and to openly debate all at the time} as so to cut through any attempted revisionism in future years.

Yet this issue is still being 'fought over. For me I will go along to listen too those who say they had been involved in such origins and will get stuck into reading on the matter. I know the developments in recent years that have been moved to happen are truly historic and will be wrote about by many , yet this to was an important event, and may also be dealt with in greater detail in schools in the decades ahead.

So if it is to be written then it should be told in its entirety.

author by confusedpublication date Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is this self-indulgent rambling not covered by the guidelines? Huh huh?

And to think: Carlin was once the leading SWP activist in Belfast. Was he like this then?

author by not confusedpublication date Thu Feb 07, 2008 09:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the ramblings of an old man, although it does not make easy reading at times you can get some good facts about the workings of a man gone insane

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Feb 13, 2008 13:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors


I put this here as it is a continuum of the reading of my points raised on this thread - throughout and within.

Thousands called on to march on a Proud and Celebratory march

Link to one of our previous ones







As the Irish language stands at the moment, culture minister Edwin Poots is doing everything in his power to erode the language in the face of international and European legislation designed to protect it.

According to this legislation the minister is supposed to 'promote, nourish and protect the Irish language'.

In protecting the language, the Irish language budget has virtually been frozen and is not even in line with inflation

In nourishing the language Lá Nua the Irish language daily is in threat of closure from March 1st.

To promote the Irish language, the Irish language broadcasting fund is due for closure in 2009, funding for the Gaelaras in Derry is also to be stopped in 2009.

Over the next three years Ulster Scots is to receive at least £1,000,000 more than Irish.

This is just the start.

Mr Poots states that by introducing an Irish language act it will actually stop the growth of the language as he thinks that without it the Irish language community has grown and developed substantially.

Every penny the Irish language community has received has been fought hard for and we are still fighting!!!!

The growth of the language has been from the groundswell of speakers, learners and lovers of the language promoting it for themselves, tax payers that pay for the Minister Poots' budget I believe.

Is it really that his opposition to the language is based on reality or is it a desperate attempt to relive the colonial misrule which caused so many problems for so many years.

What other reason is there for not promoting a beautiful and ancient language. You decide.

It is clear we will have to go on fighting. We will do this in a positive and determined way because this really is what the language is about.

So please join us on Saturday and show that we won't lie down easy.

Celebratory Parade

Saturday 16th February 2008.11-12.30am Taste of our linguistic, cultural and culinary wealth. Cultúrlann.

1pm Celebratory Parade in support of the Irish Language and diversity from Cultúrlann to Writers' Square.

All welcome!

Na Gaeil abú!

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Feb 25, 2008 17:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have put up a new online Diary, linked

Related Link:
author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those interested, my online Blog has been updated

Related Link:
author by JJpublication date Wed Mar 26, 2008 15:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This 'diary' has a potential to be a book. With a bit of trimming and some long explainations of organisations, campaigns etc., it has potential. All you need is an apt title can I suggest, in order of preference, the following for consideration; The Secret Diary of Davy Carlin aged 40ish, My Life, My Fight for Irish Freedom, Down and out in Ballmurphy and Beechmount, The Road to Kelly's Bar, My Struggle, and Waiting for Davot.

But will it sell????

author by Davy Carlin.publication date Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Indeed while getting back from abroad and reading such Stormont ministers again visibly squabble over such issues as the - Maze, {an issue which came up at the forefront of a conversation even when I was abroad recently at the other side of the world!}

Togetherness though is found, as stated, by the WWPC –

Quote -The We Won’t Pay Campaign also attacked the “political parties who claimed to oppose water charges when seeking election to the Assembly but are now clearly preparing to stab the people in the back by imposing charges next April.”

The WWPC call to protest on April 5th should be supported.

Link -

On a personal note, {as I said I would give a few points on joining WSM before moving on} although times are changing in the North, avenues are further opening up for those on the ‘left to continue to work together for the benefit of working class communities and within other workers struggles.

My Journey in activism in all its forms within organisations, from a 7 year old kid to now a 37 year old man sees it now fit into that of the WSM. This is where I am happy, in the sense of, organising, in political outlook and knowing that such an organisation can grow and effect real change with and within working class communities and the workers movement, while affording all such real democracy.

Indeed one of the first victories, where the recently formed WSM Belfast branch would be involved in with others, was as linked below.

Direct Action at work, and a workers Victory

{This was also the first such protest I had attended as a member of the WSM in solidarity with Dasa, in early March, before heading abroad}

The new branch’s founding members of the WSM, had met recently around a kitchen table, to debate and discuss the way forward. We planned not only for the coming day and weeks but for the next several months ahead and our work with others, within working class communities and such organisations etc, {Catholic and Protestant}.

We had already begun local working class estate agitation, and with an ever growing number of contacts, - public meetings {on local and International} - and a central Belfast members and contacts meeting are coming up.

And with 1000 copies of our next paper ordered for the Belfast Branch, with a local Bank account set up, with the election of Secretary and Treasurer {rotated}, the Belfast WSM branch meetings are very political, organised, sharp and focused on the time ahead, - and how we can grow and seek to effect real change and victories with others, as similar to link above.

We seek with others, to put the WSM on the political map, rooted in working class communities and the workers movement, in Belfast, in the North, in Ireland, as part of an Internationalist out look.

Those wishing to be part of and to see through with others such real and effective change and victories for the workers movement and working class communities–

Then join us, or contact us to find out more

Join the WSM

Davy Carlin -

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those interested my online diary has been updated.


Related Link:
author by moderate anarchistpublication date Wed Apr 16, 2008 15:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“But it is the sheer ‘Calibre of those ones and twos, that are joining, those who have been at the forefront of campaigns and movements around the island, those who have been active and around for years and know the craic, and now see their home in the WSM."

Exactly David ,numbers are important but not the main issue for anarchists It's the calibre of those who engage with our radical,forward looking movement that will ultimately count for most. And ,yes I for one am interested in your diary . If others think that it is just an excersise in ego publishing ,that is their problem.I am moreover most pleased that you have recently found a new home with the anarchist family . And there can be no doubt that the WSM certainly has its share of good activist anarchists , Davy , but there are also other strands to anarchism which I hope you will find time to explore as you continue the journey of discovery you have so courageously embarked on. We are a pretty broad church!

You share some of my own concerns over the perception that the general public has of anarchism
when you write :

“ anarchism, is given a bad press by the mainstream media, which is of little surprise”

The mainstream media is as we know a corporate entity based on the profit motive. In order to sell their message they have to adapt that message to the public's general perceptions .What is that perception in regards to anarchism?
It has to be admitted that anarchism is all too often seen by ordinary members of the public as either not serious -“ a bit of a joke”
or ,still worse , as a movement consisting of hotheads and extremists. It is my view that anarchists need to address this matter urgently if we are to put anarchism at the centre of politics in Ulster as well as in Ireland .
I believe that I have had some success in raising such issues here on indymedia Ireland recently, but that more work needs to be done in the direction.
Once again Davy , keep up with the diary ,do not be discouraged.

author by Davy carlinpublication date Wed Apr 16, 2008 16:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cheers, for the points raised

You Quote - 'Davy , but there are also other strands to anarchism which I hope you will find time to explore as you continue the journey of discovery you have so courageously embarked on. We are a pretty broad church!

I know there are various strands to Anarchism, and am presently reading and studying such history, from many backgrounds, as I have always done.

And yes, the Diary will continue for a while yet, as I have written elsewhere, and the ego stuff, well that matters not, as my points for writing such, again have been mentioned elsewhere.

At the end of the day, people will come to their own conclusion as to where to get involved in to attempt to win a society for the benefit for all

It is about strategising for such, it is about, as stated a long time ago, revolutionising in the here and now and bringing about that immediate change that benefits those most in need – while looking and seeking that that can change things in its entirety.

At the end of the day Revolution, and only such a revolution of our class will hold the potential of that real difference, and it is that, which is my ultimate belief and desire of heart and mind

Again thanks for the points

Signing off


author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed May 07, 2008 13:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign is holding a national demonstration in Belfast on Saturday 17 May, assembling at the Arts College (York Street) at 1:30pm and marching to Belfast City Hall for speeches and a rally.

Further details to follow,

For those interested my online Diary has been upadated.

Link -

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Jun 30, 2008 18:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For me as I come to the end of my 37th year it has meant 30 years of War to Peace - and change. In these articles it draws on life experiences and records indeed historic times and Movements. Indeed even on this site I read of those recently asking why the BAWM was called a Movement, and I remember back to the day when then SWP full time organiser had asked why I had given it the name I did, similar with the ARN, I was asked why I had termed it a Network - such points are answered though throughout the archives of my articles on this site.

Some of my earliest articles from Republicanism through to loyalism will also be attached below, in time, {and such changes},such as the link to the once rank and file strategy of the SWP, and much more.

For me I have debated and discussed, and so then written much of such at the very time, as so to give such events and writings an airing, and the chance to be discussed and debated at the very time, and therefore also recorded, {also against attempted future revisionism - censorship etc}, while creating a Movement for change at the same time.

And so while I come to the end of my 37th year, my writings, workings, etc, on this site {through out and within, visible and otherwise}can offer an insight into the changes we have seen, in recent times.

Indeed, it may even offer some more - that 'Deeper understanding, through reading such.

My activism will of course continue {and more recent campaigns and movements -but now in tandem with real working class victories, and local visible environmental, - economic - and societial -changes' won and secured for working class communittes, trade union activists and wider society - can be found elsehere on my Recent archives}, with the WSM, as that is where my Political Journey has taken me through experience. But for me, such times and the records of such {in a personal senses} can now be found on this site, and i will put up older articles as and when I find the time .

1}When the Falls and Shankill marched as one
2}The most important workers strike in Northern Ireland in 20 years - A rank and file strategy


On the 14th December a demonstration took place in West Belfast, a demonstration that raised both eyebrows and comments from various quarters. From parts of our local media we had 'an historic march' while others drew a symbolic significance of seventy years past of the outdoor relief marches. This was a march which seen people from the Shankill Rd march up Lannark way to meet people of the Falls - Springfield road, a road in recent years that has seen confrontation between orange marchers and the local residents. On this day though it seen unity in a common cause of economic concern in support of the firefighters and of our fire service, with many of those marching stating it was an absolutely brilliant initiative.

The march itself consisted of about one hundred and fifty persons. It was led by a banner which stretched across the road stating 'Falls and Shankill in support of our fire service.' I would like to thank my more artistic young comrades in the Belfast Socialist Workers Party (SWP) for doing the banner, as those community and trade union activists who carried it with me gave it nothing but praise as did firefighters who suggested I should keep it safe in case for further use.

Behind this banner, the N. Ireland Fire Brigades Union (FBU) banner was carried with up to twenty five local firefighters in full uniform walking behind it. This was then followed by other trade union banners such as that of Unison and that of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance banner (NIPSA), the largest union in N.Ireland, with other political and community banners joining also in support. The make up of the marchers drew many rank and file trade unionists as well as leading members of the Belfast Trades Council and the Irish Congress Of Trades Unions (ICTU).

They were joined by Catholic and Protestant, loyalist and republican community activists, socialists, and local residents with their children amongst others all lending support. The speakers were from the ICTU and FBU and also a young woman who being inspired by the reasoning of the march asked if she could say a few words at the end. The march was the first organised by the West Belfast Firefighter Support Group and supported by the Belfast Trades Council and the Fire Brigades Union. I found in the build up to the march a lot of people in 'both communities' having a lot of support for it. Doing interviews together, attempting to build support for the march through different media outlets myself and Alex, a Shankill Rd community worker found massive vocal support for the Firefighters' cause. Such issues of concern can and do find a resonance and support across the 'divide' and with the possibility of a similiar march in North Belfast being raised, again another 'flashpoint' and interface area, persons involved in the support groups are looking for cross community support for the firefighters and our fire service. Yet it is not only on bread and butter issues but on other issues I have found 'cross community' support.

For example as per my previous article on The Blanket I wrote of the two hundred plus march last week through central Belfast against US imperialism's initiated coming war on Iraq. The march called by the Belfast Anti-War Movement brought again amongst others Catholics and Protestants. Fortunately as a leading organiser also for this march I knew and could see key community activists from East Belfast's Protestant estates marching with key community activists from West Belfast's Falls Rd behind their Trade Union banners such as that of the Unison banner in support of the Belfast Anti-War Movement.

Of course after thirty or so years of this recent conflict we see still a lot of bitterness or disillusionment or tiredness and of 'sure nothing will change'. Yet as in the very first article I wrote for The Blanket, written this time last year, and one of the first article I had ever written entitled 'New Governance And The Working Class' (archive section), I will therefore end this article with the same understanding as I ended that one.

That is - may it be in initial small steps, patiently but determinedly, building unity and in doing so creating strength, locally and internationally, we then have it within ourselves to attempt to effect real change. Some wish it to, some want it to, but ultimately despite whatever - may it be through small victories or indeed against defeats we always have to keep working, keep building, keep moving forward, to attempt to make it happen'.

As like the Anti Racism Network (ARN) article this is in part a record of events on a particular issue as I firmly believe such should be recorded. This not only because of revisionism but more especially as one can look back and learn lessons if similar situations again arise.

This strike was one of the most important workers strikes in the last twenty years, Below is an article I had written almost six months ago during the height of the campaign, which now, with the dispute in effect over and defeated (Sept 13th 2004) I now put up on the Blanket. I believe that it is vitally important that lessons are learnt within such a dispute as so workers can take the experiences into the next fight. The dispute happened within NIPSA (Northern Ireland's largest union) and within it there had been for many years a broad left group, now such a group was called Time for Change (TfC).

The reality of this group is that it is and has been dominated and lead by the Belfast Socialist Party whose primary role has been to concentrate on trade union elections, as the means of delivering change, change from above in effect. However during this dispute a new group ‘uncivil servant’ came to the fore, based primarily on mobilising a rank and file network and mobilising the workers from their grassroots. It was the uncivil servant who where to the fore from the onset, and within a short space of time of its establishment had seen them initiating the mass unofficial walkouts of thousands of workers, while immediately and actively seeking all out strike action from the start. So while others meekly called for such, uncivil servant activists knew of the importance of attempting to bring such about from the onset, to win, and therefore ‘actively’ pursued this.

Although the Tfc did not this time hold an overall majority on the Civil Service Executive ‘leading’ the struggle, they though had quite recently held a majority. Yet they where voted out next time round by the members who had seen little of the change they promised to bring if elected. Yet as with this dispute, those who lead them, rather than dealing with the reality of their failure, they have again attempted to point the finger elsewhere as to their failures. Such is the mindset.

Nevertheless they still had many members of that upper body who where now ‘leading’ this struggle, and who on many occasions made unanimous tactical decisions, and so with that now seeing a historic defeat. Saying this, I can hold respect for many of them as individual activists, it is though that strategy of primarily electoralism, and of that leadership, that was to the detriment of the over all struggle that I deal with, as it is important for lessons to be learnt. Therefore the uncivil servant activists and their thousands of supporters knew that they had to look elsewhere to attempt to deliver change, and this would be from below, rather than from on top.

In effect it is now widely recognised that if all out strike action would have been called at the onset, with thousands of militant workers walking out unofficially with the ‘wildcat uncivil servant’ strikes, with the workers crying out for all out action, along with the then huge support for the official strike action by members, as well as huge public support, we could have won within a very short period. Workers in their thousands knew this, called out for it, and walked out unofficially with it in mind and voice. Instead though that leadership moved to selective action, in fact turning down, and then off, the tap of militancy, therefore having a strike strategy of the strike of the few, taking on the fight on behalf of the many. Although pressure would be put on government via this situation, this tactic on its own had no chance of winning.
It was not until eight plus months after a long drawn out struggle, with the momentum lost, the tap of militancy turned off, the public support lessening, and that selective strike action of the few for the many, that that ‘leadership then looked to call on workers, to now, go out on all out indefinite strike action before Xmas without pay?

Yet despite this, it was shown that those branches that where to the fore in initiating the walkouts, those branches that were and are best organised with a rank and file strategy, that they could still deliver a resounding yes vote for such action, despite all that had went before. Branch 8 for example, who had initiated uncivil servant, which is the largest, and recognised as the most militant and best organised branch, seen 95% of its members supporting strike action from the onset. Then after all this, eight months on, 85% of branch 8 voted for ‘this now’ called action. Yet overall the vote was lost for the all out call for action around the civil service.

The uncivil servant is now being contacted and building up a rank and file network around the North, our strength was not enough at that time to move the situation forward enough to the strategy that we, thousands of workers, and indeed government knew was needed if we where to win the most important strike in the North in twenty years. Lessons have been learnt by many involved, but probably not by all.
So before the account below of the militant workers actions (and additional points at the end), just a few further notes. Many may be aware that I am working on a book at the minute, it will account for my childhood growing up in West Belfast as a black kid at the height of the troubles. I was born into Ballymurphy 1970, then between Ballymurphy and Sevastopol Street, Falls Road 1974 to early 1981, then Twinbrook early 1981- 1989 . Apart from my life growing up in ‘the West’ it will also account for my life as an activist. I will be blunt, honest and forth- write in dealing with this account as I believe it needs to be. In doing that it will account for how I seen life on the left initially, and with witnessing of the ‘Political Sectarianism, of other left groups and individuals (namely the Socialist Party in Belfast) towards a new activist on the scene. You can get a taste in the article (Belfast: Political Sectarianism and the left – June 2002) which can be found at address, or similarly in the first in my series of West Belfast articles. (West Belfast, Childhood and the wars – Oct 2003), at the address,

I also will write such accounts, and as stated before, in part against revisionism, yet as importantly it is to record a workers history that has occurred in recent times. Again I read of some accounts of campaigns that I and comrades have been involved in. Again I shall be blunt and honest when I record such as I see organisations (and again I will be specific both now and in the book) who attempt to claim every piece of working class activity. Again when I read of the Belfast SP trying to claim that the were responsible for the rally against the murder of a young postal worker Daniel McColgan in 2002, I knew firstly that the factual account needed to be recorded, and secondly I had come to an understanding why such organisations mindsets needed to (and in cases could) attempt to claim such to their membership, more especially those not in immediate or direct contact with the reality of the situation .

Workers need to learn from their history and that can be only done if the truth is told. So such events will be recorded such as that, that had seen the largest Anti sectarian rally during the conflict, after that brutal murder, which shall record the factual account of those left activists that played that not unimportant role in bringing such around. Similar in relation to both the Largest Anti War march and rally seen in the North with its mass student walkouts and various actions, along with a similar mass Anti Racism rally whose make up made it ‘Unprecedented in Northern Irish Political History’, the facts behind the initiating of such shall be written, from the stand point of one who was at the forefront of playing a part of bringing such around with comrades and other genuine activists involved.
Much other events shall be recorded in the book, from the ‘historic’ termed Falls and Shankill march, similar as I have recorded these NIPSA workers actions, as will the several day occupation of Queens University through to the first ever occupation of the US consul in Belfast (since moved), the mobilising and feeder marches from local working class communities, our participation and support as trade unionists at the interfaces, through to ‘sit downs’ opposing Orange marches on the Ormeau Road, etc will be recorded.

Yet apart from an account of my childhood growing up in West Belfast and the important factual accounts of such moments in time, I will account of coming from a working class Republican – Nationalist area and being invited into and speaking in the heart of loyalist working class estates from East Belfast through to the Village and Sandy Row areas of South Belfast.

I see such as important, and is in part why I write, as lessons of such workers struggles can only be understood and learnt from when they are factual and truthful, which can cut across the revisionism and sectional interest that I have found some reek from. Eventually when the book is written, several years down the line I shall put it on the net and begin, I hope, a second and continuing account. For now though below it some of the events and actions by workers involved in one of the most important strikes in twenty years, and the lessons to be learnt, The lessons being primarily of that (putting aside those whose primary role is to concentrate on trade union elections, rather than building strong branches) is that if our ‘leaders’ had of followed such a lead, the call, and the groundswell from below, from the workers themselves for all out action from the onset, instead of bottling the militancy, then we the workers, may very well have won.

Part of the Labour movement.

The rank and file strategy in action, the lessons learnt.

Written six months before the end on this dispute (March – 2004).
At the end of last year I had detailed the ongoing actions within NIPSA (Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, Northern Ireland’s largest union) in an article on the Blanket site entitled (the close of the year 2003 - the Belfast SWP). I below will give an update of that struggle as it still continues and escalates, and it should be noted that when the first ‘official’ strike began it was the first such collective action seen in over sixteen years. My detail will be concentrated on the mass actions of workers who took action, ‘officially’ and ‘unofficially’ against a government agenda of intensified bullying and intimidation of civil servants and the perceived seeking of the breaking of our trade union. Our crime – is to take a firm stand against low pay.

Firstly though I had remembered a few years back when we (Belfast SWP) had organised a march through Belfast city centre against low pay. That march several hundred strong was lead then by up to 150 fire fighters in full uniform, yet with now seeing in recent times those very same fire fighters also in strike actions again on the issue of pay (recorded on the Blanket). Yet as we campaigned and raised solidarity for them we argued, as we argue presently - that as with the then Fire Fighter leadership strategy that the now NIPSA leadership strategy needs to advocate all out strike action for much longer periods if we are to win. The fire - fighter leadership action then as with the NIPSA Civil Service Executive now, have adopted a start stop approach to actions. This type of selective and stop start action in fact does little to win a dispute as recent history has shown. NIPSA members have shown though that they have been ready for the fight, yet it has been the weakness of the leadership of the Civil Service Executive (who have not been willing to take the step to move to firm escalation of the strike by calling for all out action). It is their and that weakness that will seriously hamper any chance of winning if they continue down their still tentative route, which plays into management’s hands.

Belfast SWP have both NIPSA members and also leading NIPSA trade union Reps on Branch 8 committee ‘CSA’ (the largest branch in the civil service) which is also recognised around NIPSA as its strongest and most militant Branch. This due to the respect the Branch has from the workforce due to the dedicated work and firm stands that they had put in over the years for members and also for providing active solidarity on many other ‘external’ issues and campaigns. Which is why I believe it is of no co-incidence that when management and government started suspending Northern Ireland civil servants, they started and directed their attentions whole scale against us in Branch 8. This whole situation had started to escalate when management had imposed a deal, 0% in real terms and with that Branch 8 had said enough was enough. Firstly, and as reported previously a brief account of the actions at that time to put the developing situation into context.

‘So on the news that the ‘deal’ was to be imposed rank and file activists within Branch 8 NIPSA drew up placards and began marching around the floors of our thirteen story building in Belfast, with placards reading 'end poverty pay - all out.' And with that workers joined in behind and marched outside in their hundreds onto the streets of central Belfast on ‘unofficial’ walkouts.

As the news spread around, other workers starting walking out of their offices all around Belfast with many marching upon Branch 8 to stand firm with their colleagues. With comrades now standing upon the steps of our workplace making addresses to the workers, other workers looked down out of the windows of surrounding buildings shouting out ‘we are on our way down’; and down they came. As the news spread others started walking out as far away as Derry. Such was its impact and the inspiring spontaneous mobilisation of workers that the N. Ireland minister stated that ‘the actions of workers at branch 8 were deplorable’.

Yet I tell you what was and is deplorable Mr Minister - the imposing of a 0% deal in real terms and the keeping of workers on poverty wages. So with that the rank and file workers, Catholic and Protestant in their many many hundreds strong, took the lead, immediately downed ‘tools’ when the ‘deal’ was imposed, and walked out, clapped as other workers marched towards them in solidarity and with that together stood firm and united on that day. Thus in doing so taking to the streets of Belfast and beyond, in solidarity and against poverty wages.

This active and visual action led the way in showing both how much workers are sickened by the way they are being treated by management and government and provided a small example of the real power held by the workers as the businesses came to a virtual standstill. These workers therefore took that lead, stood firm against low pay and excuse the pun, walked the walk. As one worker and recently new union representative, recently interviewed and newly inspired, has stated (who had never been in such actions).
‘I have seen trade union activists in different trade unions during my time as a NIPSA member (8-9 years) and before, looking time and again to trade union election after election to try and bring change. Or looking to provide activist based leadership and involvement (from on top), but unfortunately providing just the very occasional sign of either. I believe that those unofficial walkouts were probably the largest and most feel-good immediate reaction responses against low pay that has been initiated, responded to, and more importantly led by ordinary union members, that NIPSA has seen in God knows how many years and, most probably, has ever seen.'

Such walkouts had also happened this time last year which seen walkouts and actions this time by school students against the war in Iraq (recorded on the Blanket). A joint press conference was held then by the Irish Congress of Trades Unions and ‘Schools Against War (SAW) and chaired by my comrade Dan (SAW and Belfast SWP) before the school student actions. Again the actions taken through the SAW walkouts, marches, sit downs and venting of anger at the US consul as like the NIPSA members now, sent out a clear and powerful message of opposition on those particular issues.

This NIPSA rank and file action gave workers inspiration and many of the rank and file workers who took the lead in this case, as was to be the case in the next mass ‘unofficial walkouts’ were grouped around the newssheet of ‘uncivil servant’. So for the next while NIPSA continued with selective strike action and work to rule but once again management moved to escalate the situation by issuing threats.
So with these threats to remove ‘flexi time’ and with blunt refusals to even negotiate etc and just a week or so after thousands attended the Anti Racism Network rally (ARN), thousands of civil servants again walked out on unofficial action. This on Feb 5th when management issued the threats. Below again is a report of again Branch 8’s initiations and actions.

‘At 11.30 am Feb 5th branch 8 members of NIPSA with chants of ‘Tommy O’Reilly on yer bike, we’re going out on strike’ walked out of their office and went onto the streets of Belfast. 500 strong we marched up Great Victoria street's roads in central Belfast and passed Belfast City Hall in what the media called 'wildcat strikes' and the civil service management called 'illegal'.
Like the first 'unofficial wildcat actions' a few weeks prior that lead the Northern Ireland minister to state that 'Branch 8 actions are deplorable' as branch 8 had previously brought hundreds on walkouts onto the streets from Belfast to Derry against low pay. This time though it was thousands (three to four thousand).

Many of such activists to again take the initiative and lead being grouped around the ever growing rank and file workers newssheet ‘uncivil servant’ (established only a very short time). This network has seen such spontaneous mass ‘wildcat actions’ against low pay that has not been seen under the period of previous (over many years) and present ‘broad left’ groups whose ‘main’ focus is primarily on trade union electoralism. Therefore these mass actions from below (rank and file workers actions) far outweighed anything on such similar matters that had ever gone before this in NIPSA. More importantly though the actions have give both inspiration to workers and shown also where the real powers lays, which comes from below. As one recent leading senior NIPSA official acknowledged at a mass meeting of Branch 8, ‘if every branch was like Branch 8 we would have won this fight in the first week’.
In saying that he hit the nail on the head, that is, the NIPSA broad lefts years and years of primarily focusing on trade union electoralism had now seen the weakness in that strategy. With the emphasis therefore on getting people elected to positions within the union leaderships, therefore very little was done on the ground within the branches. That is why although, yes, stand for elections but the primary focus should be on building strong and active branches, as those around ‘uncivil servant’ are attempting to do. This as has been shown in the recent actions and indeed through the realisations of some ‘left’ union activists and officials who have tended to concentrate in the main on electoralism over the years.

The original issue on these actions was in relation to a pay increase or in this case no pay increase and the first 'unofficial wildcat strikes' a few weeks back was when management imposed the 'deal'.

Management threats this time of withdrawal of flexi working hours etc, therefore seen similar actions by workers (this time in their thousands) who showed that we are up for the fight against both management threats and poverty pay.

So as we marched through the streets yet again on our 'illegal wildcat strikes' workers from other offices opened their widows from on high and started leaning out waving, cheering, clapping and chanting with us as we made our way onto the main roads and avenues and through side streets, from one side of central Belfast to the other. This as so we could meet up with other workers who had also walked out in solidarity and against the threats by civil service management. As we arrived at the meeting point with my comrade Ryan leading the chants on the mega phone thousands of workers who had already arrived cheered, raised their fists in solidarity into the air, or clapped at our arrival. And as we gathered at the management’s office we sang in Unison

‘We would rather be the pickets than the scabs
‘We would rather be the pickets than the scabs
‘We would rather be the pickets, rather be the pickets
‘Rather be the pickets than the scabs’.

Ryan, Chair of Branch 8 (a comrade who played the key role in branch 8 at this time) was interviewed in that days Belfast Telegraph (North’s Biggest seller) stating that 'workers were angry at what they viewed as threats and intimidation by management and today’s walkout is about expressing our anger'.

Management in the same piece stated that 'this industrial action has begun to impact significantly on services'.
The next day official action was to take place and as I walked around civil service departments in Belfast city centre many were simply shut or with their shutters down with pickets outside. Outside Branch 8 our picket around 30 strong sang spirited songs to, and with pickets stationed across the road who had now tripled their picket line since December’s action.

Management had underestimated the strength of workers feelings on the issue and the bully boy tactics and threats by management, workers had shown will not work. These actions while important and historic within NIPSA's history is more importantly though in the process of building both the confidence of workers in all aspects of society and secondly showing to date that this group of workers are up for the fight against the government agenda of poverty pay. If successful it will give inspiration to others, but to be successful we should learn the lessons of the recent successful postal workers actions in Britain.

For myself it has as with many campaigns, struggles and actions one has been involved in taught me lessons. I had originally seen and wondered at other left and socialist organisations whose main focus is on trade union elections. They hold trade unionists that hold senior positions in the trade union bureaucracy (who themselves are good genuine individual left activists). Yet it is their political organisations concentration on such elections without building anything on the ground that had shown the weakness of that strategy. This has been shown in the NIPSA strike where its leadership has been the weakest link with the workers more militant and that leadership more tentative. It has shown how a rank and file strategy of building from the bottom up, rather than building from the top down can have a far better chance of winning such a dispute as was even acknowledged by that senior union official.

Thankfully now in NIPSA a new layer of activists has emerged around the newssheet uncivil servant. They are the activists attempting to build the strongest activists based, rank and file lead branches. They are the activists who took the initiative to lead those historic unofficial militant walkouts of workers. They are the activists who are advocating and actively seeking all out strike action as to not play into managements hand and to more importantly to have a strategy that can win this strike. The lessons for oneself as a socialist are clear that focusing on trade union elections without building anything on the ground will not work and will lead to defeat.

I cite but two recent examples of differing ways of organising, solely as it is important as to how the difference in strategy can be seen in practical terms for socialists. The Socialist Enviornmental Alliance (SEA) was seeking to establish its self in Belfast as it had already done firmly in Derry. Its reason was to stand in the forthcoming European elections and as one who sees elections as tactical rather than a means to an end; this therefore was a time I believe when one should put forward a candidate. Not only given the increasing stalemate and political nature of the orange and green or indeed the development of the new international movements. It is though that we are also witnessing an emergence of new local activists and activist based cross community campaigns, which are part of the growing movement.

Yet such are in themselves creating and initiating mass local mobilisations and actions from fighting against low pay to taking a stand against racism. Such issues that are mobilising on mass scale locally in very recent times are also part of the priorities of the International movement. Therefore while it was important after the mass anti war protests of Feb 15th 2003 to provide a voice, it is essential now given at times the unprecedented specific mass mobilisations and militant workers actions happening on those variety of local issues. This is coupled with more and more new activists emerging, engaging, working, organising, agitating and networking together on a whole host of campaigns. A half a dozen community and activist based anti racism branches in Belfast alone, several activists based SEA branches seeking to develop also around Belfast, new networks of militant trade union activists who are to the fore of mass workers struggles and militant actions, these are just some of the developments in Belfast over the last several weeks. Such initiatives are also beginning or are already being developed outside Belfast as with the Derry SEA and its various local campaign initiatives for example. And of course we are essentially seeing the under laying factors within those local struggles reflected as part of the International movement.

Yet despite this there are those who still believe that the time is not quite right (to stand in elections, yet some of whom have before advocated and indeed stood in far far less favourable times?) well, to those persons I say that I believe that they are quite simply wrong. Therefore it is my belief that an ‘activist based non-sectarian electoral voice’ as part of the movement is essential at this time. Which represents and reflects both the anti capitalism of the movement and therefore with it the immediate local issues at hand. I see it as a case of looking to, and the involvement of the new and not primarily the old (left). Therefore as the SEA, I am to believe, is moving in that direction then for one it is something I would then actively support and actively promote, if that is the case, as the time is right.
The SEA therefore (as it is in Derry) and as it is to be in Belfast, is that of an activist based campaigning organisation working on the ground within the communities and trade unions etc. The meeting called in Belfast (to establish the Belfast SEA) attracted up to eighty persons, with an introduction by one person as to the reason of the meeting then it was opened for discussion. Those in attendance were on the ground and leading activists within anti racism, anti war and anti poverty campaigns. The meeting also seen leading, Gay, Women’s and environmental right campaigners in attendance, as well as leading rank and file activists from several trade unions. Persons from solidarity campaigns, left wing journalists, student activists and many other leading on the ground activists within local communities amongst others from around Belfast were also there.

This make up came from Catholic and Protestant areas and overwhelmingly non-party aligned and activist based and as importantly was reflective of the movement. For one I see this as the way to organise and to work together, and in doing so new moods of activism and activists therefore have come together in recent times. In doing so we have therefore seen the initiation of mass mobilisations and militant actions on various issues involving Catholic and Protestants in recent times on the streets and in the workplaces around the city of Belfast and beyond. It is the case of being part of the movement at a local level and to do that one most learn new ways to organising and seek to reach out for engagement.

Yet two days later another meeting was called by the Belfast Socialist Party, on building a socialist alternative. Their platform of speakers included a President of the largest Trade union, the leading figure of another Trade union and a Socialist TD (MP) from the South of Ireland. That meeting attracted little more than a dozen persons, in fact no one outside of their own organisation. While I can hold respect for those on the platform as socialist activist I again learnt a lesson similar to the NIPSA issue. That is, that if one works in campaigns in a fraternal way putting the interest of the campaign as the priority then people will acknowledge that. More importantly that the campaign should be activist based and activists lead from below, where genuine activists can begin to feel empowered and equal participants.

Therefore I have learnt that many independent and genuine activists will not necessarily go along to a meeting of Presidents of this or leaders of that (more especially if the speakers all belong to the same political party). But they would go along to meetings that they know will be activist based and those who will be in attendance have a recent history of broad based campaign activity with various others. As importantly that they know (due to their recent history) that such activists will work fraternally and in equal partnership on a common issue with them and with others. In effect making the issue the priority. For me personally such issues are important when working with others and more especially given the development of the new movements.
This is being reflected also internationally where new methods of organising and working together are being thrown up within the process of those new movements. What we are seeing now is new networks of activists and new ideas on organisation and how one works together coming to the fore. Therefore those who dwell on purism, sectarian party politics, and methods of the past will unfortunately be left there as new situations, (which mean adapting to those very situations) need to, and begin to occur, this in many spheres of ‘organisational politics’.

The work of the rank and file ‘Uncivil Servant’ activists who initiated the magnificent militant civil servant walkouts which eventually seen thousands of workers walking out unofficially, saying enough was enough. Or the Anti Racism Network (ARN) mass rally of thousands a week or so prior, with now ARN activist based branches establishing all around Belfast and beyond, has seen both of these local issues having a number of things in common. Firstly it is the coming together of activists on a common issue, where the issue and unity with others is the priority. With that both have been able to initiate mass actions and mobilisations. Secondly activists within each, seek to work from the bottom up both within the trade union and now the ARN local branches thus developing empowerment of activists. Yet although these are local issues they are part of the wider issues, which the movement takes up. This from the issue of low pay to the issue of racism and fundamentally to the issue of Capitalism and how that very system needs to see revolutionary change, and of course, how this is brought about.

Yet, and finally on the NIPSA issue, our struggle against poverty pay continues, but that struggle needs a firm strategy that will win, as I believe we can. Yet that is only a very small part in an internationalist struggle as at the end of the day for those of us that are internationalists, we have also a whole world to win.
Update - Sept 2004
Many lessons can be learnt within the account provided. The move for example, to all out action at the start when the militancy was bubbling over onto the streets in unofficial actions of workers in their thousands, this was the time to escalate. This when official actions had huge backing and active support from members across the board, also when there was huge public support from around society and when workers where screaming out for the call to escalate to win. This was the time to escalate, this was the time we could have won .Yet the ‘leadership bottled that militancy and excluded the majority in strike action for the actions of a few. While rank and file activists did what they could and even when thousands where taking unofficial action it was not enough to move that timid leadership.
Therefore what we need, is to continue to build up such strong and militant branches, as that is where the real power lays, as even as that trade union senior official had realised when he stated, ‘that if every branch was like branch 8 we would have won this fight in the first week’. Unfortunately the broad left and those now recently in the form of TfC (although doing occasional activity) have choose primarily the road of elections, in effect, to primarily seek the top table of the trade union bureaucracy. Yet, as stated, while elections should be a tactic, they should not be the ‘primary tactic’ of Socialists, as the means to deliver change.

The lessons have also been that whether in or out of leadership positions, that should not be where also a socialist ‘strategy’ primarily lays. If the energy used over the years in such elections would have even been equalled in building up strong branches, again it may have been very different. Although to late to change the overall out come of this strike, but having seen the positive side of having inspired and re - vitalised many branches and thousands of workers into activity or action, the uncivil servant rank and file network needs now to build and expand. Many have now learnt and seen in a practical way (this historic defeat) and as to where those whose primary concentration is on trade union elections, can lead us, and have lead us, and so, we must attempt to ensure that we have the collective strength that such need not happen within our union, the members union, NIPSA, ever again.

Davy Carlin, NIPSA REP Branch 8.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 15:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A political Journey

{for Archives}

Address To the Progressive Unionist Party Conference 2002

Davy Carlin • 4.12.03


Below I reprint a short edited version of my speech at a meeting at the PUP conference 2002, which was very well received. I believe given the ongoing debate on the issue of the 11 plus continued discussion and views on this are important. So I print below that short edited version of a quite lengthy speech in relation to this. Before that though, and at the end, I shall make but a few brief additional points.

Within my short time as a political activist I have come to an understanding that on most occasions our mostly communal form of politics has been and is a case of ‘us against them’, both in relation to political parties and specific ideologies. This being not only in the context of Unionist against Nationalist or Loyalist against Republican or indeed Unionist against Loyalist and nationalist against Republican. But also of course it then goes Unionist against Unionist, Loyalist against Loyalist, Republican against Republican, Nationalist/ Republican against Republican/ Nationalist. Then we have of course in my own particular sphere Socialist against Socialist and the left against the left.

It is in that context why many attempt to balance oneself within their particular political spheres and constituencies, yet for me it is those who attempt to reach out for engagement and understanding of a differing ‘tradition’ or ‘allegiance’, for a common good, who one then could begin to hold an element of respect for. Such is the nature of our communal set up (and the nature of politics per say) that it is on many occasions difficult to give the ‘other side’ credit when credit is due. This not only in relation to ‘different traditions’ but even to similar but differing political parties or ideologies. For me though nothing is ‘Gospel’, from religion to politics. Although I would learn and hold much understanding from and for many great revolutionaries, (revolutionaries come in many forms) through periods of history, I would, though, on many occasions adapt those theoretical and practical lessons to the present within my own practical and political life experiences and understandings. Watching and listening to some politicians throws me back at times to my childhood twenty years past (Republican and Unionist – Loyalist) as their rhetoric has changed little and for them time seemingly has all but stopped still. It is though with such similar in mindset but more progressive in attitude (realistic) that one can begin to engage with, not only from above but also more importantly from below. And with that I have learnt others can than be moved with them.

Yet even within the ‘left’ political circles in which I am an activist I have found on many occasions criticism directed towards oneself and my colleagues within Belfast for attempting at times to reach out. Of course one can expect it from the usual quarters but it becomes unfortunate when those closest to oneself or ourselves feel the need to be moved also to do so. But we have always stood firm in our understanding against whomever or whatever. I had found over time in some ‘socialist’ or left circles that if one was to state that one had spoke at the PUP conference or sat around a table with loyalists or/and republican working class community activists, faces of aghast would appear on some. If I had stated fair play to the SDLP Alliance or Women’s Coalition for a particular stand they had taken I would then have been accused of moving to the right. If I had stated fair play to a stand by various parties that had benefited working class communities Unionist, Loyalist or Nationalist/Republican I would be told by some that I had either betrayed ‘my roots’, or went back to ‘my roots’ depending to whom I was talking. I have found that this situation is reflected in many parties, organisations and ideologies. Yet those calls (increasingly lesser so) have come from the back or the sides by those who prefer to lecturer and snipe rather than talk and engage, from those who look backward not forward, those who claim to ‘hold’ that political understanding for the people, rather than ‘working’ that political understanding with the people.

Such is the splintering of politics one wonders how we move forward at all. Yet for some they (and we) have attempted to reach out for understanding of other political views. In doing so then persons have begun to grasp an understanding of those various political views, traditions and allegiances. More importantly, practically seeing persons as persons whom have on many occasions the same material concerns as one. Thus, for me, I have seen my political understanding in theory worked and experienced therefore in a practical way. One is not naïve and understands the difficulties of our situation on ‘our wee patch of earth’ yet one knows from practical experience that it is far, far easier to condemn and ridicule each other than it is to attempt to reach out for engagement and more so with and between those whom hold a ‘history’ that one is very uncomfortable with. Yet we all have a history but it is the present that will dictate our future. So it will be those who can prize open the blinkers, envisage that collective society, envisage that collective people, who then can begin to seek to effect real change for its and our collective good. Some try to do this in an initial small way while others have the remit to attempt it in a larger way.

Yet, for me, the difference is not solely within a flag of a nation or of a union, but on the material need and the political freedom of a people and a class. And on that note my address.


I would like to thank the organisers of this conference for inviting me to speak on the issue of post-primary education and more especially the issue of the 11 plus (a test taken at eleven that then dictates what school one goes to, which depending on the school can on many occasions effect ones opportunity in life) that effects many of this said constituency. I start by giving a personal insight on the material base of my life, which would have been and is reflected by again many of this constituency.

My report prior to my 11plus stated among other items that I had excelled in Maths and English amongst other such topics, that I would be a cert to pass my 11 plus. Yet I failed. Why? For me I did not really think about it until I met a friend (in my late teens) who lived in another part of town, a well to do part of town. We, over time, talked of many things and one of them was on the issue of our schooling days. I had remembered quite vividly the material base of one’s life and the immediate circumstances that surrounded me. For me, at times, I would get up at 4.30am to do a milk round, after school a paper round or ballots etc. At the weekends I also helped out for a few bob in a furniture makers and of course the essential rosaries at night (that took a lifetime to do) amongst other such things. So with it all, it took up most of my pre and after school time. To do homework I had a box room shared with five others (so rarely had any peace to study) as by the time duties where done it was getting late and therefore the library was closed. Yet why were the kids not chased to give me peace? Well quite simply because as you would be aware education was not seen as a priority and also the issue of war and providing for a large family were to the forefront. And as I was constantly also reminded by my peers in my late teens ‘what’s the point of education Davy, taigs, from here anyway, don’t and won’t get jobs let alone decent jobs.’

Yet when my friend reflected on the material and social base of their life the differences were obvious. They had their own room with rows of study books with past exams, maths and science wall charts, a home computer etc. They were provided with a private tutor in the run up to exams (who specialised in passing children for that particular exam) with also even attending a summer study group and of course the home held a study room of their fathers which resembled a mini library; and in it a piano for extra curriculum marks. Therefore it was an ‘educational home’ not only in the way it was kitted out but a home driven on an educational mindset which provided moral and financial support which stressed and rewarded success. If despite all this advantage if they were to still fail the 11plus then the parents would of course pay for the school of choice so they would not miss out on such opportunity whatever the case. Being out of the war (although living in Belfast) their circle of friends and peers lead a completely different life only miles from where I was growing up. Their circle of friends had similar upbringing having had the continual stressing of the need for high educational standards and being provided with every material need to attempt to ensure it. Emphasis was on success, and the talk of ‘steering’ towards a chosen professional career was often a topic of discussion from early age. Their after school activities on offer ranged from horse riding to scuba diving or they could have extra courses in music or the languages.

For my mates and I (mid teens) our outlook on life was to look forward from weekend to weekend where we could have a few beers. Although I did eventually go to college (and had initially got laughed at by my peers, as many believed ‘what was the point?’) I, though, left after two years to start working as I at the age (‘should be paying my keep’). So finance in large part again, like many others, directed my opportunities in life. I got a few part time jobs then got a full time job, which was stacking toilet rolls in a newly opened store in West Belfast. Then three weeks before Xmas after several other names called over the intercom to go to the office I was handed my last pay check (paid weekly then) and told I was surplus to requirement as they had taken on too many staff. The brutal way in which this was done three weeks before Xmas was bad enough for me but there were married men with kids who came out of the office almost in tears, with even one almost begging the manager to keep him just till after Xmas. But it moved him not and therefore was to no avail. But it taught me a lesson.

For myself and my mates our concerns were ‘immediate’ - this due to the socio-economic conditions of ‘our community’, the political situation and the structures of a discrimination-based society that offered us little chance of change. On the other hand my friend and their peers thoughts were not only on the ‘immediate’ but also on preparation and concentration on ‘a future.’ Fortunately my friend urged me to continue my studies, take up a part-time job or find a more secure full-time job and to get space on my own away from the ‘troubles. With that for a time I moved out of West Belfast and found it easier to get more job interviews (different postcode, similar to when I was advised to put down Dunmurry instead of Twinbrook on application forms to secure interviews, as postcode discrimination was rife). It also enabled me to meet more of ‘those prods’ I had often heard about. I eventually got a job, which was flexible enough for me to do what I had always wanted to do, but thought I would never do, and that was to travel. So for several years I travelled to many parts of the world meeting different persons, cultures and traditions, and found how they were able to live and work together and incorporate differing understandings and beliefs into society. Yet I was aware of the root causes that caused our instability. But the question I began to eventually ask one was how does one then attempts to end that instability.

So on those experiences it lead me to draw a number of conclusions.

Firstly the material base of one’s life and immediate surroundings along with the structural make up of society and one’s position within it, will to a large part determine one’s opportunities in life. This is furthered by the legislative educational directive that discriminates against the less well-off and further rewards financial well-being with the privilege of decent education and more advantageous educational outcome.

Secondly I believe that education should be a lifelong issue where answers are not given - then 'told' to follow through a strict curriculum - but persons should be allowed to develop understandings through reasoning and acquired knowledge from many quarters. Education should be prioritised for the development and betterment of a person rather than the main of providing further fodder for the various aspect of the production line of society.

Thirdly equality of education and of opportunity should be a democratic right in a supposedly democratic society, and not a privilege for that person who can afford to buy that right for their children.
Finally working class children have as much to offer as any other in this society, therefore the privilege of birth should not dictate the educational opportunity of life. Therefore the old boys club guarding the chalice of privilege should not stand in the way of social justice and educational equality.

For me I have come to an understanding that rather than the 11plus being an accurate gauge between ‘the gifted’ and the ‘not so gifted’, it can be used as a gauge on many occasions between poverty and wealth. It is not a coincidence that year after year that the worst results in this exam comes from working class areas where only 7% of grammar school places had been filled by children from not well-off backgrounds.

Yet the inequality pre-selection is also reflected post-selection. Research has shown that the opportunity to those ‘afforded that chance’ to be selected for grammar school enhances their chances for better GCSE grades to almost sixteen points. This is coined ‘the grammar school effect’. Such schools also on many occasions have smaller classes and better facilities again aiding both exam success and widening the after school curriculum.

I listen and have read different reports and studies on this issue and the still ongoing debate yet for oneself I have come to an understanding that an education system based on equality of opportunity, founded upon the principles of social justice and inclusion, will embrace all of our children. So on that basis I would call for a fully funded, integrated, democratically accountable system of comprehensive schooling. So if it is so that our children are ever to be ‘judged’ as they still are (and as many have been in the past) that they are then ‘judged’ not by what their parents have in their bank accounts but by what they have in their heads through their progressing talents and developing abilities.


This was but a short piece of that talk which was the first I have given at a party conference outside my own. For a person born into a Socialist – Republican extended family there are those who would wonder why I had spoken at such a conference or to those that represent a loyalist and Protestant working class constituency, yet what are the real ideals of ‘Republicanism’ all about? What were the United Irishmen all about? It was about reaching out for the unity of Catholic Protestant and Dissenter.

So without attempting to break down the political walls and mindsets the material walls will always remain. I read and hear of political parties that seek votes from working class unionist areas, these from parties who then call to retain such an unjust system of educational apartheid that discriminates against those very peoples children. They use the question of the union to attempt to cloak the issues that affect both working class people’s daily lives and their opportunities in life for themselves and their children. While many of those working class families continue in many cases to eke out an existence, such political leaders will go back to their homes in leafy suburbia. It is those who want to bring about an end to social and economic exclusion, those who want to see a betterment of people lives that such persons should look to. Those that wish to retain the 11plus are in effect attempting to cement the discrimination and inequality of education that will effect working class children’s opportunity in life, thus in all likelihood remaining in the generational cycle of poverty. Of course we all know how the flags are used by many as the issue of priority yet we need to move to a stage where people begin to ask such questions as ‘surely this is not benefiting our daily lives or securing a life for our children to get out of the poverty trap’.

As a socialist I would advocate persons voting for a socialist candidate in all future elections. Yet if there is no socialist candidate in an area why not for a change vote for those that will seek to make real change in working class peoples lives? Those who in combination will fight for a better public service, those who attempt to put the people above party politics, those who look to reach out across communities, those who want to end social and economic exclusion, those who seek to tackle poverty. And of course those who wish to see the end of the 11plus, which discriminates against working class children, and seek to replace it with something that offers equality of education for ‘all’ our children regardless of wealth.

We need to move forward against the politics of those looking to go backwards. For me I hold a vision, it is when I can look forward to a day when myself and my partner have kids and go up upon the side of our mountain (Black mountain) as we often do, and we look upon Belfast and the surrounding mountains on a clear day and can say to our kids:

‘See a united and equal city, see a united and equal country, see a united and equal people, see it all - and be proud.’

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 15:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A political Journey

{for Archives}

Belfast - Building A Mass Anti-War Movement: Tens Of Thousands March In Belfast on February 15th 2003

Davy Carlin • 30.03.03

I would like to reflect on my experiences and of lessons learnt while playing a part in the building of an anti-war movement in Belfast. The movement developed from a small but effective (although initially disorganised) instrument engaged in relevant propaganda and small scale mobilisations to a mass coalition which drove some of the main TV and media outlets to state that we had witnessed, 'the largest anti war demonstration of its kind in Northern Ireland's history.' Others simply called it 'historic', with many saying it was at the least the best protest Belfast had seen in decades, The vital role the Socialist Workers Party (SWP in the North) played in this was acknowledged by many individuals (including on The Blanket website - see A. McIntyres 'the Rally' and A. Fox 'A unity of purpose against the war') and by many other writers, journalists, organisations and parties as well as the Deputy Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade unions (ICTU) who took the unprecedented step of thanking both my comrade Colm Bryce and the SWP publicly and personally from the platform at the demonstration for our all work within the coalition.

Looking back at the last anti-war campaign against the war in Afghanistan in 2001 a lot of lessons had been learnt. Although that situation differed somewhat to this recent drive to war, there are many similar arguments being put, but organisationally those who initiated this coalition had learnt lessons from the previous campaign and set out to both win the argument and to build this movement in a completely different way. We knew also that we had to break down barriers from many that such mobilisations were just a pipe dream in the North so we knew that if we delivered, then a huge step would have been taken forward.

The experiences of the last campaign made those who were then for the first time setting out to attempt to build a mass anti-war movement come now to a firmer understanding both of the need to create and how to create such a movement within the political sphere of Northern Irish politics. The understanding was fivefold. Firstly to move out from 'the usual suspects' and to attempt to connect with the many thousands of others who were opposed to such a war. In doing so, those who wish to participate in 'political sectarianism (finger pointing and ridiculing of other parties rather than building the movement) or who wanted only a 'talking shop for abstract propaganda with 'fellow lefties' would find it increasingly difficult and backward because of the nature of their politics, in the development of such a mass coalition. Secondly to actively build and widen the movement with others who could agree on a number of fundamental aims and objectives. The coalition would include reformists and it would include revolutionaries (a situation that could be used on various issues where collectively would lend more practical and political weight on common issues for common good) - with a consensus agreed on the issue to each of our political limits so in effect building a broad 'United Front', in this case in opposition to such war albeit against the backdrop of 'N. Irish politics', but in the context of internationalism. Thirdly, while in such a broad coalition to raise the arguments as socialists as to the nature of war under capitalism and how we believe we as a working class can win real and fundamental change. These arguments done from fully working, engaging, organising and taking a leading role fully within the movement. Similarly as we had done just prior (and again learning lessons) with the Fire-fighters support groups which led to the Falls and Shankill road march (See 'When the Falls and Shankill marched as one', The Blanket, as well as various other reports of the 'West Belfast fire-fighters support group' in the build up to the march) which because of the nature of the march was termed again as 'historic'. Fourthly to attempt to relate wider forces to internationalism rather than political internalism while at the same time relating and placing local social and economic ills in an wider political context. This could be expressed more so given the recent development of the Social Forums and of the anti-capitalist movement which has thrown itself into the building of the anti-war movement. Finally to take the lead and actively establish local community, student, and workplace groups with others to form activists bases in various cross community sections of Northern society. Again to prove in practice that such issues can build and mobilise peoples in such sections of our community therefore raising and sustaining awareness and activism in key sections of society against the war.

We knew also as we had started to see those similar features creeping in as we had seen previously that we quickly had to move the anti-war movement away from the initial quite disorganised situation with the usual faces to a more organised and broader situation. We firmly believed for that to succeed that the SWP had to be at the centre of it, the rock from which to create a ripple effect to those thousands of anti-war peoples in wider society. Apart from this as we progressed, we in the SWP in the North raised other ongoing questions and understandings of how to relate to and actively involve different 'traditions' and organisations while attempting to mobilise not hundreds but thousands and indeed those tens of thousands of people against the war, as was being done in other cities. To do this we had to work initially against some who held such mindset as 'sure its different here in Belfast' or 'sure people will not come out as they are not interested etc.' So the SWP in Belfast initiated along with other individual activists and our supporters within the trade unions and communities the Belfast anti-war movement with similar being done through the Derry coalition. As written in a previous article on The Blanket, we initially mobilised 200+ people from a variety of groups from Catholic and Protestant areas to march through Belfast streets before Xmas. Again as in previous campaigns most of the organisational work, meetings, press releases, postering, leafleting etc. was done by the SWP and other individual trade union and community activists. We knew that to make Feb 15th big that we had to go after other groups who we felt would support the movement and to get their sponsorship for the demo.

Initially we approached all those groups and campaigns we were working with and who we had lent support to as well as others both within our local communities and trade unions. Once we had done this we knew we were going to have a demo at least several hundred strong but to have a real impact we agreed it needed to be thousands strong and that Belfast should not, could not, and would not be any different from those 600+ other cities who were to march in the largest co-ordinated global demonstrations in history. To do that we needed an organisation which had networks to tens of thousands of working class and their trade unions - that of ICTU. So with the strong base already built amongst layers of trade unionists and other activists who supported us, and an impressive list of scores of other organisations, trade unions, community, women and minority group sponsorship from a cross sections of society for our Feb 15th march, a meeting was then set up with the ICTU Northern Committee and eventually they agreed to lead it with ourselves heavily involved. We were also aware once ICTU backed it and by engaging with the mainstream media and raising the issues through local actions and high profile speakers that eventually such would be its momentum that other larger forces such as the churches and other political parties would wish then to show some, or more active participation. So we believed that in doing so we could move those of singular interests and such organisations to both lend support and for some to see the benefit (both practically and politically) of such a united stance on a particular political but common cause for common good.

As our priority was to mobilise as many people as possible comrades agreed that it was far better if the movement was lead by ICTU but with ourselves deeply involved within it (although we did and do have concerns). We were also confident that our work on the ground and our political understanding could win people over in the debates on organisation and the aims and objectives that followed, and by and large although differences, we won a consensus on these issues with the many other organisations we engaged with. It has to be said our members here although many young and those involved in politics only a few years have both conviction in their actions as Anthony McIntyre stated (The Blanket article 'The Rally') which saw SWP members from this city lay down in front of on coming Israeli tanks to let Palestinian women and children escape from possible slaughter', with many other such solidarity actions also not widely reported. We also hold a strong confidence in our politics and are very active on the ground. That combination for those who know us has won us some respect from many differing circles and quarters. With that confidence we also have no problem engaging in debate both to raise points and to have an understanding of others as I believe you cannot really hope to attempt to break down mindsets unless you really understand why one holds those mindsets.

Although we had done all the ground work by the bringing together of scores of groups and by building and advertising widely the Anti-War Movement demo for Feb 15th we believed three things were important in building that base against war even more, as dependant on the active memberships of the relative organisations or campaigns we knew it would effect the strength of any mobilisation call. Firstly we had moved the stage on from a number of trade union branches, and a few trade unions along with quite a few active rank and file trade unionists lending participatory support to now that of the Northern Trade union leadership 'active' role in the mobilisation of their rank and file. Secondly the role of the youth and students we felt was important especially when one has an understanding of their role in other antiwar movements of such a scale. We therefore decided to help initiate an independent youth organisation in Belfast that organised its own actions, meetings, and publicity with it not having ideological conformity as a prerequisite for joining as like other youth groups, but as an broad based student activist coalition against war. So then Schools Students Against War (SSAW) was established. The group held its first meeting a few weeks ago which had over fifty school student representatives from at least fifteen schools around Belfast which was due to the initial hard work of my young comrade Dan Buckley and also John Price along with others who helped get it off the ground. They organised their own protests such as that recently shown on television and within the printed press of their actions outside Belfast's US consul while the BBC did a short TV slot on their activists and activities. They also held a recent inter school debate with leading pro war assembly politicians against members of the Belfast anti-war movement which had over three hundred school students in attendance and have now helped organise school strike action for March 5th (although the majority of walkouts will be initiated by SSAW in Belfast, again the working together for a common cause for common good again was our priority). Such was and is their activity and again their publicity they were one of the five speakers on Feb 15th Belfast demo, so agreed by the coalition in their capacity representing all of the students of the North of Ireland. Again with such growing support amongst School Students Against the War combined with many other sponsors, the Student Union leaderships of Ireland were then approached for support and have since sponsored and then called for students to mobilise on mass in support of the coalition.

The final point was to actively build local anti-war branches in our local areas through meetings and activity (to date hundreds have attended our local meetings around the city), with myself as per previous on The Blanket being involved in the West Belfast anti-war branch (There are various reports on The Blanket of West Belfast anti-war branch activity in the build up to the march) which had amongst its local supporters trade unionists, socialists, republicans, community activists, independents and locally established campaign solidarity groups and others at its first meeting of fifty activists held on the Falls Road. We organised together a feeder march down the Falls Road with up to one thousand people to the main parade in the city centre on Feb 15TH. The march had members of the Socialist Workers Party, Irish Republican Socialist Party, Sinn Fein, and the Workers Party amongst other such Republican and Socialists groups. Again it was raised that it had been many a year that seen such a gathering of differing parties marching down the Falls Road in one march. We were also joined by many various trade unionists, community workers and organisations, campaign groups, families and many other individuals and independents. We initially held a rally at the start at the bottom of the Whiterock chaired by my comrade Brian Kelly, a contributor to The Blanket and a member of the SWP who played, as with many others, a vital role in the organising of the feeder march. The speakers were Michael Ferguson Sinn Fein, Feilim O hAdhmaill, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and myself representing the Belfast Socialist Workers Party (SWP) so with that we then took to the Falls Road for the feeder march. The march, loud lively and colourful was applauded and cheered firstly by residents on the Falls Road then also numerous hooting of horns. Passing by on our march a huge banner also hung from the roof of the Falls Road women's centre reading 'Don't attack Iraq, join the feeder march from the Falls Road', as we continued our way to the now massing people at the main assembly point.

Other local community anti-war groups have also been established around Belfast again holding successful meetings and engaged in activity. We have also set up work-based branches in Belfast with around one hundred lecturers signed up who are holding a 'teach in' in Queens University with also teacher, civil servant and other work based groups set up in Belfast Other feeder marches were also organised by other activists in the anti-war movement and coalition. With one in particular having its own historical significance - that of the four day march from Derry to Belfast which retraced the civil rights march over thirty years prior but going the other way. Some of those who helped organise and who were on the original march also helped organise and marched on this one including Eamon McCann. I joined the first day of the march from Derry to Dungiven on the Wednesday taking time out from the Belfast organising. I was kept entertained by the wit and humour of my comrade Ryan McKinney along the way as I watched as McCann took to the fore in inspiring others through out the first eighteen or so mile trek, with Colm Bryce giving an excellent meeting that evening on the whys of our journey and the why nots for war.

So the Derry march, the Falls Road feeder march, the main Belfast march and rally have made it like many before that a day that I will remember such as, our day of anti capitalist action in Belfast city centre, Genoa, the Falls and Shankill march, and much more. As we marched up Royal Avenue in Belfast city centre some shops and bars were closed with some signs on their window stating solidarity with the marches while others read that they were closed to let their staff attend the march and rally. As we continued through the city centre I first heard, then seen, my comrade Colm Bryce leading the chants at the front of the Derry march who unbelievably had arrived after their four day march at the same time as the West Belfast feeder march. As they sat down on the road at one intersection I brought the West Belfast march to a stand at another intersection. We now chanted as one - both the Derry and the West Belfast feeder marchers, while across the road thousands of others cheered and applauded us. Then my comrade Barbara Muldoon - who was standing up on a wall amongst those masses keeping them informed with her loudhailer - pointed out to the people in one hand and the mike in the other, joined in with the chants in unison with us and so followed thousands of others who had amassed at the Art College. Now thousands called out 'Free Palestine, Free Palestine, Freeeeee Palestine' as flags waved and voices echoed as one all around Belfast as they had done similarly around Genoa - it was both an unbelievable sight and sound not witnessed in such a form and scale in Belfast city. Again a throw back to memories past as I seen Barbara on the wall leading the chants at the Art College and Colm similarly so on the Derry feeder march. I remembered Barbara linked to one of my arms and Andrew King linked to the other as we continued to march forward at the front of the march through the Gas, the water cannons, the baton charges and the attacks by the right wing paramilitaries in Genoa on the day they murdered Carlo Guilianni. Similarly I remember marching with them on the Saturday as well as with Colm, Ryan, Tom, Dan and many others who were in Genoa and who also now played a vital role in building this march. It was the Saturday's atmosphere in Belfast which for a second threw me back to the Saturdays atmosphere in Genoa - we were in Belfast but like Genoa it was a day of international unity. It seemed that for that one day that we had brought for a short period the spirit of Genoa back with us to the streets of Belfast.

As we eventually got the thousands of people under way through the city centre we were able to see just how big the march really was. On the march I caught a glimpse of Tom Prier and Gordon Hewitt chanting and happy after the work they had put in like many others for this brilliant day and also Mark Hewitt leading the sit downs and chants with hundreds of protesters. As we mobilised at the City Hall the marchers were still coming out from the original starting point at Art College. As we stood there for what seemed like ages we were told that there were still thousands more still waiting to get to the rally at City Hall. Eventually the speakers spoke: they were Peter Bunting of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) who as I stated took the unprecedented step of thanking the SWP for all our work in bringing the rally together. Then came Jamal Iweida (President of the Belfast Islamic centre) and Mairead Maguire (Nobel peace Prize winner). To huge rapturous applause and cheers came the speech that all the media picked up on as Eamonn McCann stood at the front of the city hall and as Ian Paisley had done eighteen years prior boomed our 'Ulster says no' (to war). I knew as the flags waved and the masses cheered that that event and those words in that context would and are now etched firmly on my mind. Finally before the musicians came on School Students Against the War (SSAW) that cross community school group we helped initiate spoke as representatives for all students around the North which was a testament of all the work they had put in to raise this amongst students around the North.
It was truly an amazing day which as Socialists we had worked for to bring about and once again valuable lessons have been learnt through our initial work in building for the rally. Now that such a rally has taken place more groups and organisations should get involved. The ruling classes are still preparing to rain down slaughter on an already impoverished people. We need to now argue for and organise mass non-violent direct action, for strike action, occupations, for mass resistance at home and internationally. We need to continue to move the movement forward against this war while in tandem arguing and discussing how to bring an end to it. Socialists need to be at the fore of the movement arguing for, initiating, being active in, and taking the lead in local, community, workplace and student groups while from the very start being up front about one's politics, therefore in doing so always raising as to how we believe as socialists that we can bring an end to such war. It is this combination as the movement grows where both our practical activity and ideological understanding can be forwarded from that central position - 'within' and as an 'intregal and leading part' of the movement. Thus providing the potential of first relating to and then winning larger layers to that understanding of how to end such wars and the system that breeds them.

Within such a 'united front' of a common aim there will always be that 'tug-of-war' between the reformists and the revolutionaries as to the direction of the movement. This is only natural due to our different ideological understandings which can at times cause misuderstandings, animosities or even setbacks with searching for common aims for common good. It is therefore vital that socialists not only continue to raise our political points from that revolutionary understanding within the heart of movement but as vitally we need to continue to organise practically within our party as revolutionary socialists.


Building An Anti War Movement

Part 2: Moving To Action

Davy Carlin • June 16 2003

After the 20,000 plus demonstration on Feb 15th a change of tactics were now needed, this for a variety of reasons. Firstly though I along with others was aware that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) was and had 'actively’ attempted to mobilise their rank and file for Feb 15th as well as widely publicising and building for it. Being in constant contact with ICTU from the start and being both on the BAWM (Belfast Anti War Movement steering committee) and the STWC (Stop The War Coalition steering committee) as well as regular contact with various trade unions and trade union organisers, we were well aware of their active participation. This was one of the reasons that I and others voiced support for ICTU's involvement as our agreed and main priority was to build the largest protest for Feb 15th - which we did.

In reality what we had done by building a broad coalition including that of the ICTU was to bring one semi-functioning anti-war branch in Belfast within a few weeks to over a dozen community, trade union, and student branches in and around Belfast; created a large and militant student organisation to which some long term activists said ‘that they had not seen since the sixties'; mobilised the largest anti-war march in the North's History; organised feeder marches from working class communities including some who's make up had not been seen in decades; brought Catholic and Protestant and indeed republican and loyalist community activists onto the same march and opened up the potential for a space to voice a different form of politics.

Although we succeeded in that main priority of mass mobilisation we made some mistakes so tactics did need to change, with the main mistake being not establishing accountable structures for the STWC committee from the onset. The reasons for this being because initially the main groups within it were ICTU, the Belfast Anti War Movement (BAWM) and the Derry Anti War Coalition (DAWC) who worked on a consensus, where we had not found disagreements in relation to the Feb 15th demonstration. Secondly with the sheer momentum of it all and the limited time, discussion of the practicalities of the Feb 15th ascended above discussions on the practicalities of committee structures, although raised we never seemed to have time pre Feb 15th to get around to discuss it in any great detail due to that momentum. This meant that the next meeting post-Feb 15th was left in the hands of ICTU who did not call a meeting for two weeks.

Apart from that many within the BAWM and its many affiliates were also aware that the ‘ICTU’ would not be 'up for’ a number of issues including on this occasion, that of non violent civil disobedience (although many of its affiliate trade union members were). While some were seemingly fixated by the fact that ICTU were not up for this as other anti-war groups had called for it elsewhere, there were others including myself who did not see it as a major problem. Why? Well quite simply civil disobedience does not always come from above but also below although it would be beneficial if ICTU had called it but the simple fact is that after Feb 15th the main practical mobilisations were done by the BAWM and the DAWC and their affiliates. Secondly it was the spontaneity of the movement that took such decisions on the day while the essential practical organisation was done from the committee. For example as I will report on later it was school students who engaged in large acts of non-violent civil disobedience despite being asked and even attempted to be physically removed from spontaneous sit down protests to listen to organised speeches. It was thousands of people, the movement, who marched past both ICTU's demands and the police's orders to stay in one particular place and to march upon police lines, again mass disobedience, not called up front by anyone but by that spontaneity of the movement in action. Others and I were aware that this situation could arise so had no worry if ICTU called it or not.

In reality in Belfast thousands of trade Unionists, student, community, peace and anti-war activists and others have engaged in five days of non violent civil disobedience some small others large scale - more than that of many other such movements and organisations that actually called for it - as we gave the state no warning and the sheer numbers at times of the movement in spontaneous action was what some knew may well happen. Of course one needs to be highly organised in such a period and to have accountable and democratic structures giving a strategic lead albeit with tactical changes as and when it necessitates. It was though the spontaneous action from the movement from below rather than a call from above on this occasion that gave both the element of surprise and provided heightened consciousness of the strength held in such a movement through that collective action from below.

So with achieving what we had set out to achieve, that of a mass protest on Feb15th, we now needed to look at our position and reflect on what needed to be done. Although some again within the BAWM became frustrated at finding what direction to take given the fact that ICTU had not called a meeting etc, it was though quite simple as to how to deal with it. Firstly to establish firmly the BAWC who were many of the activists on the ground and who many also, within their independent organisations were in the STWC committee. This we did and the organisation and coordination of the student, community and trade union groups would be dealt with here as was and is the case along with the organisation of feeder marchers from around Belfast and also the planning of many other actions including protests, fundraisers etc. We were aware also that ICTU might eventually also take a back seat in the time ahead and that this committee may well eventually become the coalition committee which would not be a problem as firstly we were establishing an accountable committee made up of various organisations and secondly post-Feb 15th we and our supporters and affiliates would again be the main mobilising force if they took a less active approach. Secondly we needed to continue to work with ICTU within the coalition and attempt to still win them on various aspects of our position while working to a consensus of building for international days of action (If not possible we could do it as BAWM or to contact the STWC member organisations and agree to call a meeting of STWC ourselves if ICTU failed again to do so, while still attempting to win them to participate). Finally to hold regular activities and continue to establish and bring other groups aboard with the fixation as some held not being on ICTU but in building and deepening our roots within local communities, trade unions and student groups.

So when ICTU did call a meeting after Feb 15th we in the SWP had three proposals. Firstly to call a march in Belfast the Saturday the bombing started, this ICTU was also raising and was agreed upon. Secondly on day X (the day after the bombing started) to call rallies in city centre at lunchtimes, this was also agreed. Finally to call a ten minute work stoppage and walkouts when bombing started' - this was not agreed. So the walkouts would have to be worked on by the BAWM and its affiliates. The first walkouts were called by a number of organisations building school student groups and although around 2 -2500 walked out what was brilliant was the spontaneity of it, as it actually turned out most of the school students who walked out on March 5th were not organised by any organisation. Those who took this type of action were given the confidence by the tens of thousands who had marched in Belfast on Feb 15th and by the tens of millions more who had marched and took action around the globe. As the build up to the war continued we in the BAWM started to continue to form trade union branches and to actively get our branches to support the Anti War Movement. In the largest branch of the largest union, that of branch 8 in the civil service of N Ireland for example in which I am a member (1000 members) and where we (the SWP) have several members and many supporters, my comrade Ryan McKinney raised the motion for support. There was a very interesting debate, with Ryan unpicking the various arguments at the end and winning almost unanimous support from the branch for the Anti War Movement and its calls for action. This situation was being reflected in many unions by trade union activists within the Anti War Movement. We also continued to hold various actions and to firmly establish the BAWM committee in regular meetings. Then in the early hours of Thursday 20th March the Imperialist and Illegal war on Iraq began in earnest. As it happened early morning the SAW and the BAWM decided to call for action that day at lunchtime as well as taking part in the STWC action the next day.

So lunchtime walkouts and actions were organised as well as feeder marches from various areas. As I stood at the front of the City Hall in Belfast on March 20th SAW (Schools Against War) from East and North Belfast had already arrived along with a few others. In the meantime in South Belfast SAW and BAWM activists along with activists in Lecturers Against War were blockading the roads outside Queens University. Around 1000 school students from Methody and other schools as well as Queens students continued their sit down protests. They then began to march towards the city centre several hundred strong lead by the SAW banner. Similarly in West Belfast SWP teachers and SAW activists had prepared banners and were mobilising outside St Louise's School on the Falls Rd with other SAW activists who had organised in other schools around the West. They then marched down the Falls to join up with yet other SAW activists who had organised in St Dominic's Girls Grammar School lower down the Falls Road. So several hundred strong they made their way on down the Falls towards the city centre. Also at the same time more SAW students from the Ormeau Road were on the march to the city centre while other BAWM students were occupying the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education (BIFHE).

So as we stood there we first heard the chants of 'No War', then seen the Students from South Belfast, several hundred strong, coming towards us led by the huge SAW banner. Although another student organisation had also called walkouts for that day and had got a sound system they would not wait, although asked to do so on several occasions until SAW and other students arrived from their feeder marchers, who where prepared to listen to their speeches if only they would hold on for those hundreds of other fellow students still on the march. But on seeing those feeder marches coming in from SAW they were not prepared to wait for 'another organisation' (?). So those SAW students who were already there took to the roads with their microphones for large scale civil disobedience to wait for their colleagues. This situation at its height seen the bizarre sight of the ‘leader’ of a Northern Socialist Party in a frenzied state trying to physically lift 'their school students' of the road (who were engaged in a peaceful sit down protest with hundreds of others from SAW) to go over to a corner to listen to speeches. (Unfortunately this type of political sectarianism was shown by the same person towards myself and also towards a young organiser comrade from SAW the next day.) Nevertheless the behaviour had little impact on the day as while 30 or 40 eventually were herded and then huddled into a corner, of the road to listening to speeches (before coming again onto the road to join their school student colleagues) around 1200 students were engaged in large scale sit down protests.

So while a roving mike went around the students who had by this time blocked off all three intersections at the Belfast City Hall, dozens of them spoke about the war and why they had walked out of school. Then a cheer went up, SAW from West Belfast had arrived, then another cheer went up a short time later as SAW from the Ormeau Road had arrived. After chants and school student speeches a call went up 'to the US consul.' And with that a twelve year old school student took the mike and she lead a march several hundred strong, Catholic and Protestant school students with some Catholic and Protestant trade union representatives through Belfast city centre upon The US consul. On arrival the school students were met with scores on semi-clad RUC riot cops, dogs, barriers, mobile surveillance units and a dozen police trucks and else more. Some of the school students first attempted to get over then to remove the barriers at the US consul - with that the first batons were drawn toward school students. Although no skulls were cracked the RUC were keeping the cracking of school student's skulls for another day not far of. SAW and BAWM had made their point so after another sit down protest I suggested that we should link arms and march out past the cops who were now calling in reinforcements. So after marching out as one and making sure everyone came through, the protest was then asked to disperse at Castle Street. Although most dispersed others went on to partake in other forms of direct action around the city of Belfast. As I looked back at the consul from Castle Street I remembered our first march upon the consul a few years back against now former US President Bill Clinton's visit to Belfast, which resulted in the first ever occupation of the US consul in Belfast. Little did I know though as I looked away from the consul that in a matter of weeks that we would again be 'greeting' yet another US President coming to our small city. This time he wanted to come to host his war summit - a war we were already taking to the streets to oppose.

The next day March 22nd was the day called by ICTU for the 'silent vigils.' The turnout was smaller than the BAM and SAW actions the day prior with several hundred in attendance. Yet again even on this day the local trade union branch banners had come from SWP trade union activists who had marched to the City Hall with their branch banners, similar was the case with many of the school, community and political banners in attendance who were activists within the BAWM. After the minutes silence the SAW again went onto the roads and again the intersections were blocked off. The semi-clad riot cops arrived quickly and ordered the students off the roads but the students stood firm, then eventually made up their own minds to call an end to their protest once they had made their point. The next day was to be the third day in the row we were to mobilise, again this time like Feb 15th it was for an international day of action. Once again activists in West Belfast started to organise a feeder march, which like the main march had really only two days to build and organise for it. Yet it was inspiring to see hundreds of school students walk out of their schools and march down the Falls road on the Thursday 20th, then to see several hundred more community and trade union activists two days later on the 22nd, again on the march, many of which had joined the thousand strong feeder march down the Falls Road on Feb 15th.

So again we were 'on the road' via the Falls to Belfast city centre against the Imperialist war - a war of occupation and not liberation as wanted to be portrayed by the warmongers. Similarly my comrades who had organised the march on the 20th from South Belfast again organised also a feeder march from South Belfast to the city centre as well on this day. The turnout for the main rally was 4-5000 as stated by elements of the mainstream media. Yet when I looked at the march, the BAWM, the feeder marches, SAW and with other affiliates we may have made up around half of the march, with the trade Union banners again coming from the active BAWM members. This was reflected at the next STWC meeting where ICTU personally commented and thanked the 'strong mobilisation' from the West Belfast Anti War group and its again organised feeder march, which can be reflected, I believe, in the BAWM and its activists as a whole. It was also interesting to see the increasing levels of security and police mobile surveillances. Maybe this could be reflected in the leaders of Unionism calling on the Anti War movement to call of our protests as they were wrong and 'unpatriotic.' So a peace movement which had brought Catholic and Protestants together on an international concern was now being used by the leaders of Unionism for an internal sectarian issue. So apart from increased activity and surveillance by the state and also one may add aspects of loyalism towards us I also noticed the Unionist media also picking up on it. With one article in particular putting 'enemies (of the state?) and anti war and peace activists' in the same sentence - attempting to draw parallels? Yet this type of propaganda was and is to be expected as they have had many years experience of it.

So over the next week or two we within the BAWM continued our regular meetings and activities which included protests at the US consul or direct action such as activists chaining themselves together for a blockade of the Shell garage in Belfast city centre etc. Then on Friday 4th of April I got a phone call, 'Davy, George Bush is coming to Belfast'.

'Your winding me up' was my reply.'

'I'm serious check Teletext'. And I did, and he was coming here in three days. I thought briefly of the rank hypocrisy of it all - this warmonger coming here to jump on the Irish Peace process bandwagon and to lecture us on peace while talking war. It was also ironic after thirty years of recent war and that peace process, he should choose this place to now host a war summit with Tony Blair the British Prime minister. Yet maybe he also thought because of the recent history of our country he would be met by little protest.

So straight away we began to organise and the difference between the ICTU led STWC and the activist based BAWM, the DAWC and the Irish Anti War Movement could be seen within hours. Within that couple of hours six buses had been booked from Dublin and filling, with others coming from around the south. Buses and carpools had been organised in Belfast, buses from Derry, activists were also coming from Scotland and others from elsewhere. We within the BAWM had arranged a press conference in a hotel for the next day as well as an activists meeting. The meeting next day was attended by ICTU and many of the main activist groups. We agreed that the press conference we had organised should be done under the broader banner of STWC and also that everyone should go out and organise for ' the event'. The event being that George Bush was coming to Hillsborough at six o'clock on Monday 6th April so people agreed to go to the protest we had organised at Hillsborough and also on the next day Tuesday 7th April to have a 'die in' at the front of the Belfast City Hall.

So with that we went on full steam for the next forty-eight hours phoning and contacting our supporters and anti-war affiliates. By Monday the Irish Anti War movement had filled up to eight large buses from the South and had arrived at Hillsborough with many others coming by alternative transport. The Derry Anti War Coalition had filled buses from Derry. While buses had also been filled in Belfast, both leaving Queens University and Belfast City Hall from the BAWM. We also had many activists from the BAWM making their own way there through car pools and we also had to turn away over one hundred people looking to get on the Belfast buses but fortunately we were able to suggest or provide alternative transport for the short journey. At 6pm at Hillsborough over 3500 people had assembled and we prepared to march. So as I and my comrade Richard Boyd Barrett from the Irish Anti War movement got people assembled I was asked by ICTU if I would like to lead with the STWC banner which they had got professionally made, to which I agreed. So I began getting together a variety of activists from a number of organisations including contributors to The Blanket to head the front of the march with me. With that we then headed off with the huge banner taking up the entire road, myself holding onto the banner with one hand and a mike in the other. So we marched forward ever closer to the castle that held the warmongers.

The march, loud, lively and colourful, looked impressive as we marched up towards Hillsborough Castle. We were to stop half way up to listen to various speakers including that of the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Women's Coalition which had caused a bit of controversy due to the fact that they were going in the next day to meet the warmongers. I had got a phone call a few days prior, as well as being told by various members of some of those parties that they along with others had requested to speak at the demo. Although some were worried by this as they seen these people as ‘hypocrites’ or trying to jump on the ‘bandwagon’ I and other leading activists had no major problems with this. Why? Firstly, rank and file members of these groups had actively participated in the movement at various stages and to a certain extent as well as also senior members of the SDLP and Women’s Coalition having attended on one occasion a STWC meeting. Secondly, if senior figures of these organisations wanted to go on the platform to attempt to explain their contradictions and hypocrisy (which many believed it was) they would have to explain it publicly in front of the world's press and to their rank and file activists who would be there. While they knew also that they may also have to face the come back from others on the platform including Eamon McCann, Bernadette McAliskey, Richard Boyd Barrett and Aine Fox. I also suggested that others who had been active in the Coalition including other student and political groups who had not yet had the opportunity to speak at any of the prior Anti War rallies should also get a platform, as should one or two others, with which others agreed.

When we got to the place in which ICTU and the police had told us to stop the sheer momentum of the movement drove the overwhelming majority of people to march past the stopping point and to march upon Hillsborough Castle. So as the short sleeved 'community police' watched over the few that stopped at that point the overwhelming majority of us marched on to be faced by rows of RUC/PSNI riot cops blocking the road, and with more of them also in their full riot gear including their balaclavas hiding their faces in the surrounding fields with dogs. The march stopped with activists standing eye balling the cops face to face while in the distance across the field I could see scores upon scores of more riot cops hiding in preparation while behind this there was to be a huge security barrier manned by many more. We sat down on the road with the cops itching to get into us while a pro-war person stood on a lamppost and heckled us (some believed he was an agent provocateur) so to give the cops an excuse to move in. Yet as helicopters flew above and the CIA watched us from the cover of nearby bushes we had made our point and marched back, some to listen to the speeches while many others started blocking the main roads and carriageways into Belfast. Those whose political parties were going into meet the warmongers, who had come especially to Belfast for a war summit, were heckled as they spoke with Sinn Fein almost drowned out by the calls of 'shame', 'hypocrites' etc. But it was Bernadette McAliskey and Eamon McCann who people spoke of afterwards on the way they took those to task who where going into meet that President and Blair during the 'Summit for slaughter'. On our way back some loyalists started to gather armed with sticks and iron bars probably still getting succour from David Trimble (Ulster Unionist leader and ‘in limbo' first minister) and his specially called press conference a few days earlier to attack our Anti War Movement.

The next day was to be a 'die in' (everyone to lie down as if dead - a symbolic gesture) at the front of Belfast City Hall, to which a couple of a hundred of people turned up. After the ICTU led 'die in' other activists went on to the roads to hold a brief peaceful sit-down protest. Within moments police dressed in full riot gear arrived. Then the peace activists were baton charged out side Belfast City Hall. Yet the peace activists held their ground both against the calls of ICTU to remove themselves from the road and the beatings the RUC/PSNI forces were dishing out. Young women were trailed along the road by the hair, school students were beaten with batons and shields, as the riot police continued their attacks and arrests on peace activists. But still the young peace activists would not move. Shoppers in Belfast city centre started to crowd around with some shouting 'shame' at the riot cops as another school student in his school uniform was attacked. Yet the peace activists continued to stand firm and would not move and then to cheers of those on the peaceful sit down about one hour later the riot cops eventually backed off, maybe the cracking of school students' skulls beaming live across the world did (as US president was still here as was the world's press) not sit well with their supposed 'reformed and community image'. So ten minutes later after the cops had backed off, the peace activists removed themselves from the roads and marched round to Belfast city centre police station to show solidarity for their arrested colleagues. I am unsure when the last time that such a peace protest was baton charged outside Belfast's City Hall in the city centre but the images of school students and peace activists being beaten and dragged (at times by the hair) from the streets does not sit well with that 'community policing' we are told about. And for some more peace activists they have come to a firmer understanding about the whole role of the police and the state.

With that the BAWM were again to march through Belfast city centre on Saturday to the US consul, then round to the City Hall. With our march several hundred strong we marched towards the US consul in Belfast city centre (they are soon to move the consul to a more 'secure' unit outside the city centre) where we were met with a large mobilisation of semi-clad riot cops. With dozens of cop jeeps hidden in and around the side streets of Belfast city centre and lines of the baton itching cops watching on we stewarded well our protest. We were met by also dogs and provocation by some of the cops who were attempted to 'wind us up' with words and comments quietly voiced to leading activists. We remained at the US consul for a while then marched to the Belfast City Hall. There as we stood on the roads outside the City Hall where a few days earlier many peace activists were baton charged, both cops and cop jeeps in large numbers had fenced us in from the city centre street. We however negotiated with them that if they removed the jeeps (which were blocking off all view to the city centre so people would not be able to see what was happening as they had seen a few days prior) that we would move (ever so slightly) forward towards the City Hall. So with that, with activists still on the roads outside City Hall we then listened to the final speaker Eamon McCann.

I have learnt as have others many lessons in the last few weeks in building a mass movement and coalition (This time against war) and moving to action an anti-war movement. Over the next period we prepare for our local May Day march. We also all need to widen and deepen the connections with those we all worked with as many upcoming issues from water charges to PFI will need again such a 'united front' both seen in the communities and within the trade unions and maybe also through elections to use 'that platform' to raise such issues of common concern to a wider audience. I have also learnt how irrelevant those who engage in political sectarianism become and how their rants are only then listened to in their wee clusters when people see that activists like ourselves are not only talking the talk but leading the walk while working, engaging, organising, debating and mobilising with many others in a open, respectful and fraternal way.

At the same time we need also to organise to participate in the next international mobilisation. That is to be held in Evian which is on the French, Swiss boarder where the G8 are (hiding) holding their next meeting. We as in all previous international mobilisations shall come from Belfast and around Ireland to join with scores of thousands of others. I remember the last International protest that I went to in Genoa, where we said as a people that our world is not for sale - they did not listen - so let our voices continually raise louder. So to all those anti-war and anti-capitalist activists around Europe and further afield who are going to Evian/Geneva we hope to see you there as together we can continue collectively to discuss, protest and to take this people's movement forward.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 15:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A political Journey

{For the Archives}

Article 6

THe first such Anti Racism Movement ever seen in the North of Ireland

The Anti Racism Network (ARN), in the beginning …

Below is an interview I had done with the Irish Socialist Worker (SW) in relation to the establishment of the Belfast Anti Racism Network (ARN.) I do not intend to write a detailed account in relation to the ARN until some time down the line (as much more went on) so this interview is but a brief overview. Firstly though, a few points both at the start and at the end of the SW article, as I continue to learn more of life on the left.

From the very onset of the ARN I have found myself working with many persons whom I had not met or had not worked with before. I found and continue to find in them a commitment and a dedication in their stand, which was and is both refreshing and inspiring. I had initially from the very start contacted many organisations including all the socialist parties in Belfast and many others who had been active and involved in the Belfast Anti War Movement (BAWM). Such were contacted as well as other campaigns and organisations we and others had worked with over time.

Yet I had found that despite many showing a willingness to get involved, that not even one of the socialist parties in Belfast came forward to work with us on such an important issue, given the ongoing increase in brutal racist attacks. Some saying they were to busy (even to send one person) while others just not bothering to reply, that is, until five months later when all the ground work had been done, and but a few days before the rally. (I point this out because as yet again I had learnt lessons in relation to such organisations and the situation I believe of putting ‘the party’ before the issue - ‘from whatever quarter it comes from’).

It was these new activists' participation (others new also, new in the sense as it was the first time we had worked together) and not the old left’s non or part participation that was the backbone of getting the ARN of the ground. It also was not primarily though the old left we sought involvement of but more importantly we looked to and together found a new layer of activists whose interest lay solely in the issue at hand. More especially I had found particularly those other five persons who with myself made up the publicity committee, (which by default became the organising committee) for the large ARN rally on Jan 27th 2004, to have in them a sound dedication, commitment and belief in what we were doing. This both in activity and seeking the involvement of others, as I continue to find now in many.

So it was a rally that we had by now moved the trade union movement to support (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) and a rally we knew by that stage could be of thousands. Therefore what was happening was that a campaign and a developing movement against racism was beginning and it was a case of many of the ‘old established left’ looking backwards and inwards (as I had heard developing in the early stages of meetings held in Belfast to form a left alliance – although was not part of the round table discussions). This while a new layer of activists was seeking to move forwards and outwards on such an important issue as anti-racism. This movement forward I believe is essential, given the international movements and the continual working together of diverse organisations on a commonality of purpose as I had witnessed personally from Genoa to Geneva.

Similarly on a smaller, but still mass scale from the Belfast Anti War Movement to the Anti Racism Network where one, as has others, sought to think, look and participate globally while attempting to bring such a spirit of unity of common purpose back to the streets of Belfast. This was done on both above issues where thousands and even tens of thousands of Catholics and Protestants stood together firstly on an issue of international concern and secondly on an issue of immediate local concern. Yet both would be part of the international movements against war and racism where new activists and ways of organising were coming to the fore.
I have wrote much to date on the practical issues of what I have been involved in throughout various campaigns, giving at times a detailed account of the practical issues and events. I had found this important so as others can know and learn of such and to attempt also to give inspiration to others involved in such large or small continual struggles and campaigns. Yet for one self, the practical must go with ideas. It should not only be one of strategy and tactics in which I have personally found over time a keen interest in studying throughout various struggles (large and small), but should also be one of political ideas if we are really to effect fundamental change for working class ‘communities’ and people.

I believe in the concept of both political ideas and firm activism working together, yet have in the main recently written and recorded much on the side of activism. So for the next while after my next article (on the continued NIPSA strikes and trade unionism) I shall concentrate my articles on the importance of political ideas within struggle. I have provided detailed reports in the recent past on the various campaigns activities. now I wish to - and it is essential - understand such activity in respect to ideas.
Therefore in this case an overall understanding in relation to race and racism should not be independent to the issue of class and the present system set- up, as this understanding is crucial as to how to end such racism. Similarly Fortress Europe and the ruling classes neo–liberal project and its effect on the most socio-economically deprived areas, is part of the understanding of racism and how it comes from above. So in understanding that, one can see therefore how the fight against such racism comes from unity from below. An understanding against the ‘myths’ on housing, jobs, welfare etc is also essential to combat the rhetoric from those whose seek to circulate for their own ends such disinformation.

In articles in the time ahead (amongst others) I will deal with the issue of class and race and how, if indeed, it relates only to the specifics of our localised politics or is there also in fact a wider understanding required. I will of course still return to detailed accounts such as the continuation of the West Belfast series and other local issues but for the foreseeable future my concentration shall be on the ‘politics’ within struggle. So on that, my interview, with a few extra points after it.

Socialist Worker interviews Davy Carlin Chairperson of the Belfast Anti Racism Network (ARN)

SW - Davy can you give us a bit of background as to how the ARN came about.

Back in Sept 2003 a meeting was called in the Multi Cultural Resource Centre (MCRC) in Belfast to discuss the increasing rise in overt racial attacks and racism in general, and to see what could be done about it. As I was interested in doing something I went along. At that meeting three or four organisations were represented and after a brief discussion of those there it was decided by some that nothing really could be done. This even included the holding of something symbolic and visual at Belfast City Hall, as we ‘would not get the numbers’. The very best we could do it was suggested by one organisation would be to attend a race awareness meeting at City Hall. Two others and I argued against this and so the spokespersons of two organisations proposed that if I believed something could be done, then why don’t I go and organise another meeting to do something. With that I agreed to the proposal. And so with two other persons who had argued against the pessimism we then - the three of us - began to organise. So with a collective belief and understanding that not only did something need done but also as importantly we believed that something could be done we went forward.

So by the time therefore that we had called the second meeting of the now termed ARN we had around a dozen organisations in attendance, this by actively seeking organisations participation. Those in attendance at our earliest meetings were made up of most of the main minority ethnic organisations, such as the Belfast Islamic Centre, the Chinese Welfare Association, Multi Cultural Resource Centre, the Belfast Travellers Support Group, the Black youth network etc. Also there were representatives from political parties, human rights organisations, trades union councils, trade unions, community organisations and student groups amongst others. We then agreed that the ARN should be established and that its primary role should be as an activist based network that seeks to take a practical, visual and collective stand against racism from whatever quarter or area that it came from.

SW- Davy you say that the primary role of the ARN was to be an activist based network, what has the network done then to date?
Our first opportunity for activity actually came at one of our first meetings. The Ulster Unionist Party Craigavon councillor Fred Crowe had came out with deeply racist and provocative remarks. So we decided to draw up a statement against this calling for him to be expelled from his party. Within two days we had ten Minority ethnic organisations, trades union councils, many leading trade unionists from several trade unions, leading human rights organisations, community organisations and hundreds of individuals signed up to the statement. We then got the statement printed in the main Northern Irish press and had called on others to issue similar statements from their organisations. We also hand delivered the statement directly into many of the UUP leadership hands such as David Trimble, Reg Empey, Stephen King, and David Burnside etc at their conference.

So with our call for others to speak out many of the churches, student and community umbrella networks issued statements against racism, with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) issuing a statement on the same day as ourselves against the racist attacks happening in Craigavon. Such was the representation of our statement and the response to our call that others should speak out that Fred Crowe was then censured by the Ulster Unionist party and the whole issue of racism was then raised by the secretary of state for Northern Ireland in the House of Commons

We had therefore done something practical and had also been at the same time working on other projects via sub committees, yet we needed to do something visual and collective. So we decided to call a visual and representative vigil on Dec 10th, which was International Human Rights Day. A lot of people were again pessimistic including some closest to ourselves, believing that only a few people and organisations would turn up but a number of us worked tirelessly to make it happen knowing success would give the ARN a real boost and a viable launch pad. With that up to twenty-five organisations attended including all the main minority ethnic organisations, trade unionists, community workers, human rights organisations and many others from across the ‘divide’ making it the largest such event on the day. This was important as such unity would be needed and very much tested as systematic and orchestrated racial attacks were to happen only a few weeks later in South Belfast.

SW: Yes Davy we have heard a lot about this in recent times what did the ARN do to try and bring a halt to the attacks.

Firstly it must be said that the attacks were not only systematic and orchestrated but there was also paramilitary involvement as even loyalist politicians have acknowledged. Also there was underlying localised issues that also came into play. The sheer brutality of the attacks though on heavily pregnant women along with arson attacks on homes and seeing persons getting bricks smashed repeatedly in their faces attracted the international media to the issue. The world press where now calling Belfast the ‘race hate capital of Europe’ with the concentration of the media due to that sheer brutality on the minority ethnic community now focused on that particular local area. As many of the network were away over the Xmas period or were not able to be contacted we did what we could, doing numerous interviews while at the same time attempting to get people together for an emergency meeting ASAP. When the meeting was called we all agreed something needed to be done and we agreed on various strategies as to how to attempt to bring a halt to the attacks. Part of that was a rally to give people a chance to express their anger at this. Again some were pessimistic whether we could deliver, yet it was argued hard by some and was eventually agreed to. It would take place on Jan 27th, International Holocaust Memorial Day.
By this stage, although unfunded and voluntary participation only, the activist based ARN had already become the leading anti-racism voice in the North. The home and international media was contacting us from all over the world with more than fifty interviews and meetings within a week. From BBC to RTE, from ITV to Channel 4, from the Irish Times to the New York Times, from CNN in the USA to news stations in the Middle East. From around Europe to Australia and Canada and elsewhere, all wanted to know what was happening.
Both the situation and therefore the ARN were now the focus for the international press. We needed to show therefore that the minority would not dictate for the majority and that our collective voice of opposition to such attacks would both be heard and in doing so sending out a clear message.

So with that we started to work on our various strategies while at the same time seeking to create a ‘public momentum’ for the rally. For the ARN our immediate priority was to attempt to bring a halt to the attacks. The rally was originally scheduled for 5pm on the 27th, yet for a number of reasons we had to change it to 1pm, (by 5pm though the heavens had opened and it literally poured down). As the momentum for the rally built up we met the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) who offered their full support for the rally. So we held a joint press conference of ICTU and the ARN which I chaired, this the day before the rally. Our final ARN meeting held in the MCRC a few days before was packed right outside the door seeing and welcoming many new faces including those we had contacted on numerous occasions from the very start to get involved.

On the day around 2000 people rallied outside Belfast City Hall on a bitterly cold lunchtime at the end of Jan 2004 to show their opposition towards the attacks. Not only was it one of the largest rallies of its type to make a stand against such racist attacks in Belfast but its make up made it unprecedented in Northern Irish political history.

So with many attending we saw trade union banners from the FBU, NIPSA, NAFHE and UNISON amongst others. Trades Union Council banners stood also shoulder-to-shoulder with minority ethnic support organisations banners. Human rights banners stood beside homemade banners. Community representatives and workers from the Shankill to the Falls Road were in attendance. From the Village to Twinbrook, from North, South, East, and West Belfast they came. Republican and Loyalist, Nationalist and Unionist, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter all represented. The ARN now with the support of the trade union movement and many others had stood shoulder to shoulder, spoke out, and stood firm.

The rallies impact has give inspiration and strength to many others to now speak out. The collective and united nature and stand by the ARN has now enabled others to get organised or to find the strength to make a stand, as they now know that they are not alone. The ARN and its actions have given a breath of fresh air to the call and workings of unity for a common cause as opposed to the sectarian politics of division. As importantly though to date the overt racist paramilitary involved localised attacks have all but ceased (but can start up any time, so we have but a breathing space to organise and build local branches). With that we have also seen a significant decrease in racist incidents reported for the last few weeks around the North, (Feb - for the time being). We have also seen since the rally that the British National Party (BNP, far right organisation) Belfast’s branch having now been closed down, although they cited their own reasons for their departure.

SW – Davy where now for the ARN?

Firstly this is a long-term campaign and with that the ARN is now to hold meetings around the North with the view of setting up local branches. We are also to host anti-racism gigs again around the North as so to let music express and put out the anti-racism message to younger people. We will of course be dealing with many other issues such as the plight of refugees, to dealing with the impact of various legislations on the minority ethnic communities. Our main focus though and the reason for our establishment was to take a practical, visible and collective stand against both racial attacks and racism. So to date we have held white line pickets and vigils such as the recent one on the Falls Road where a Chinese man was the victim of a racist attack. We have held rallies in South Belfast as well as having done leafleting etc, with also meetings in North Belfast and East Belfast and branches also established outside Belfast.
So to that end we have elected an initial ten-person steering committee that will work and engage with the ever-growing network and deal with the practical proposals that come out of the ARN. To those that wish to take a stand with us can e-mail the steering committee at

I had found once again criticism coming ‘from the outside’ and from the old ‘part participation left’, (those who take part simply to say that they are taking part, and who play no active role in the campaign, but snipe from the sides and behind the scenes at others putting in the back work). Even when some eventually became involved a few days before the rally, calls of ‘it should have been bigger’ to ‘the speakers were not good enough’ were whispered amongst their clan as similar usually is from such party mindsets.
So such now amuses me and have learnt in very recent times that it is best on many occasions to ignore it. I have learnt also that there cannot be a strict activists' handbook of how to deal with all situations. Some advice we had received as to how to attempt to deal with this situation would have been completely counter - productive if followed. This was acknowledged by every activist based organisation involved in depth on the ground.

Yet for oneself and indeed the ARN, the priority was the immediate end to those particular systematic and escalating attacks on the minority ethnic community. This to a large extent (in this localised case and this specific time) was achieved via various strategies by those who knew exactly what was going on on the ground. Of course the attacks could arise just as quickly again, but nevertheless a significant decrease or a complete halt would give a breathing space to many.

Therefore it is my belief that one needs to look in detail at what is actually going on (the underlying factors in this case) rather than ‘right let’s get people from outside the area and go in’ or other such tactics as some said they did (although if indeed done it was done well after the intense period). Which in this case (if done at its height, and in this particular situation) would have been madness and even more dangerous to the minority ethnic community within this area.

We wanted a reaction, yes, but we wanted a positive re action. Thankfully though all those involved in the ARN (at the time) in conjunction with an ongoing engagement with the local community, minority ethnic, trade union and those with on the ground knowledge of the ‘whole’ situation knew this. Yet I, therefore, was once again the target for the left for not working the purist hand book, which ironically (but of no surprise) they themselves did not work at the height of the situation. Rather than the purist handbook the ARN instead choose with all those ‘very local’ minority ethnic, trade unionist and human rights on the ground activists and those ‘front line’ community activists to deal with the ‘practical reality’ of the situation. It was a situation that had many underlying localised (historical and present) factors that ‘had to be’ taken into account, and we, in having done so, with others, so effected a situation that provided a breathing space for the minority ethnic community.

I personally believe though that if the far right organisations such as the BNP do eventually attempt to take to the streets here then we will have to mobilise working class communities, trade unions etc, to stand firm against them on the streets.
Yet again in this situation the ending of those specific systematic attacks came not from a knee jerk reaction or a purist handbook of tactics. But our collective (ARN) on the ground knowledge, working and engaging with others and the logical conclusions as to how to attempt to bring an end to the immediate attacks (in this particular case, and at its height).

I have also found that many of the organised left (I believe) tend to put party interest before the issue at hand on many occasions. This was brought home to me yet again in strength when for five months and although constant invites too many such ‘socialist parties’ not even one would attend a ‘united’ and ‘real’ campaign against racism (especially given the increasing brutal attacks). Some eventually only did so (I believe) when they realised that they could not ‘as a party’ afford to stay away as momentum grew and we had moved the trade union movement for involvement. Yet our primary engagement was with the ‘new’ activists and those inspired by the growing international movements as it is still. Yet these activists have seen full well and have told such persons who ‘still’ attempt to engage in the mindset of petty party politics where to go.

One would think such organisations would learn, but all they seem to do is to continue to dig their own increasingly isolated graves due to their behaviour. I genuinely feel sorry for some dedicated and non-sectarian activists in such organisations and more especially those ‘lead’ by such politics. I hope such (in whatever organisations one is) can come to the understanding of class and campaign as the priority.

Saying that though, persons are aware through my writings of my ‘problems’ with aspects of democratic centralism, not because of the ‘almost full disc’ of what such organisations have said or done to oneself and comrades (collected over the last while from those sickened by their behaviour). It is more especially about democratic centralist workings in ‘all’ such organisations. That’s not to say that I am an anarchist or whatever, but simply it is as I have always done and will always do, that is, but to question and to search for my own answers if I am not satisfied with what I am told.

Yet for oneself, as stated, I have found many dedicated activists within the ARN whose priority interest lays in the fight against racism and who are prepared to put in the work and the graft on the ground. It is such activists that I personally have and do find common bond with on issues of common aims. I can hold much respect for many activists I know from other parties, organisations, trade unions, communities or wherever, whose graft, dedication and belief on an issue fills me continually with inspiration and hope.
For to long, in my earliest of years in activity I had battled (as others have done) against sectional interests in a room over the interests of an important but specific campaign or issue. I find increasingly though as I slowly remove myself from such gatherings that my politics are that of pragmatism and not dogmatism and purism (as I see increasingly in some). I hold the same political understandings as I had previous (to effect fundamental revolutionary change) but I continue to learn practical experiences through engaging and working with many others, and within various issue campaigns and movements. Therefore once again I have learnt much from engaging and working with others, This time within a far wider activist based network (based in the main on activity) as opposed to my early days sitting in a room of differing small groups of sectional interests (where for some) their version of activity was based almost solely on sectional historical polemics and inactivity. So on that point, real activity.

To date we have now established a branch in West Belfast with a recent meeting seeing a whole host of local community, campaign, and minority ethnic support groups in attendance amongst others. Similarly groups have been established in South Belfast (two branches) with another being set up in North Belfast and again another in East Belfast and of course our central Belfast branch. Others are due to be set up also in local schools and colleges, with again others outside Belfast. All this takes work on the ground. Again the media interest and coverage has been good with all those local groups set up to date receiving coverage in the main media outlets and many of the branches are engaged in ongoing activity.

In conclusion I have again learnt a lot of valuable lessons and an important one being, that there are a lot of committed activists outside of any party structures whose whole sense and priority of involvement on an issue, any issue, is the issue itself.
To finish I must add that one of the turning points for myself in life on this issue, and there where many, but one of the main turning points, was as below.

As a child I had witnessed and borne the brunt of much racism from the state and had got involved in later years in politics through witnessing more overt state brutality on loved ones. Yet it was, as I had reported on this site and elsewhere, the Gardai, (Southern Irish police) treatment of oneself on a bus going from Belfast to Dublin that brought forth a reaction. It was not in the main because that they had singled me out due to the colour of my skin or indeed even the four car Gardai escort cars (surrounding the bus) I got from the Irish border right into Dublin itself.

It was when I looked around and seen their first victim, a young Chinese girl visibly shaking in fear with her head bowed that made it clear in my head. That like oneself as a child she to was now bowing her head as I had did so many years ago also as a child – nothing had changed. I therefore there and then knew that although I had bowed my head to the institutionalised racism and state brutality as a child, now though as an adult I then decided that I could bow my head against such no longer.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Jul 07, 2008 15:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

ARTICLE 7------

The first such Anti racism Movement ever in North of Ireland {Part 2}

'8 years in The Belfast SWP - A fraternal parting', {and in reality I had left such, in mind, a long time before that - as recorded elsehere}

Part 2 of, 'The ARN, - A Movement'

This is the final article in relation to the Belfast SWP, as I have now resigned from it. As I had stated previous, the resignation was in large part a fraternal parting and a decision that I had made myself after much thought. Therefore as I spoke at the ARN mass rally on Oct 29th 2004, I did so as an Independent Socialist.

After the rally on Jan 27th of the year 2004, whose make up made it ‘unprecedented in Northern Irish political history’ (see, the ARN part one, ‘in the beginning’, recorded on the Blanket – May 2004), we as a network sought to continue to expand. We had begun to build associations and support networks North, South, East and West Belfast, as well as in some of the other most affected areas from Dunnganon to North Antrim, with many more supporters and groupings reflected around Northern Irish society.

With that, post Jan 27th many of the groups began to hold local events. In West Belfast for example,

‘The first West Belfast ARN group (Falls Rd) (WARN!) now firmly established held its first local public meeting - social event, in West Belfast. Speakers included Roden Street community Development group, Belfast Travellers Support Group, Representatives from the Filipino community and myself from the ARN, amongst others.

Held on a Saturday afternoon it was attended by over one hundred and fifty persons from the local area and surrounding workplaces, as well as by those who use the community facilities. Almost half those there where from minority ethnic backgrounds. Filipino, Chinese, African, Traveller, Indian, etc. Also persons from various solidarity campaigns where there, Ireland Palestine, Cuban, Columbian, Refugee, etc as well as persons from Argentina, Bolivia and other such areas.

They were joined with local residents, trades unionists and workers from the local Royal Victoria Group of hospitals, and other community workers and trade union activists from around the locality. All in all it was an excellent event and a good diverse turnout. Like Mayday when over 100 persons joined the ARN many again joined the local WARN!’

Also in the West they and we, participated in local marches, organising white line pickets, spoke at local events, did leafleting, postering etc as well as launching a local passport as part of a visual event, this over many months of various activities.
For me this event (First WARN! meeting) was held on the road (Falls Rd) which I was raised as a child (pre school) from the mid seventies through to the early eighties; on seeing the venue of the meeting, this brought back also other memories, the venue was held at the end of a street named - ‘Genoa street’.

Also a few days prior to that the North Belfast ARN met to firmly establish itself with up to 30 local community, trade union and minority ethnic activists meeting in the Indian community centre. Again a grassroots and activist based group from the locality.
In South Belfast (student branch) at Queens University (I had spoken at its initiation) a small but lively rally was called, while in East Belfast activists were organising to build links to establish a branch. Again in South, its main branch did stalls, leafleting etc while in other areas outside of Belfast activists began also to get organised and were active on the ground and vocal within the media. The ARN steering group during the summer months continued to organise events such as the protest at the Belfast International Airport against the detention of asylum seekers,

‘The picket at the Immigration office at Belfast International Airport was well attended by various organisations. It also got good coverage on the evening news. Those in attendance included Amnesty International representatives from various branches, the Refugee Action Group, the Anti Racism Network, Multi Cultural Resource Centre, UNISON, Asylum Practitioners and human rights solicitors, the Chinese Welfare Association, and tools for Solidarity amongst others’.

Also at this time we seen the launch of the first ever ‘Love Music Hate Racism’ gig at the Empire Music Hall in South Belfast hall, where I, as representative from the steering group, had worked with others to bring about. As I spoke at the event I looked out onto the hall and it was,‘a case of standing room only to the back door. Many attended from the Network, representatives from minority ethnic organisations such as the African cultural and Chinese Welfare association. Human rights activists and human rights organisations from Amnesty International to the Equality commission, attended. As did rank and file trade union representatives from NIPSA to Unison, various grassroots community, women's and gay right campaigners also attended. Grassroots environmental, anti war, anti globalisation, community, solidarity, and campaign activists, where also joined by many people who came along to hear the bands, and to lend solidarity to the cause. So a broad collection of organisations and individuals lending support, with many people joining up to the network. A good night and thanks for all who came to lend support for the fundraiser’.

This time, as stated, although during the summer months, the ARN steering group, completely voluntary with very limited resources – monies raised by supporters, had still been quite busy, and it continued. From a front page headline of the South Belfast News for example seeing the ARN chairperson and a leading UUP man going head to head, through to seeing the 'Nigger' word used by an SDLP councillor (in a certain context) whom quite quickly made a full apology and retraction. This again after the ARN had called for such in the media and on the front pages of the Belfast Telegraph.

In effect since the Jan 27th rally and within the space of six months we had seen the closing of the Belfast BNP branch, the ceasing of organised overt racial attacks in specific areas for a time thus providing breathing space for ethnic minority communities, the mass mobilisation and rally, the local mobilisations or rallies, active support and shelter for those put out of there homes, participation in trade union and local community marches, protests at detaining centres at the Belfast International airport, the empowerment of some working class communities against attacks, moving the support of the trade union movement into action as well as trade union councils and trade unions (workers organisations), the censoring and full withdrawal of racist statements from the UUP to the SDLP, the standing firm and putting our 'head' above the water to stand visual and vocally against paramilitary attacks.

Street protests and agitation, paint outs, white line pickets, public meetings, spray paintings – street art, poster and leaflet campaigns, stalls, the sending out of the police (state) and statutory bodies' big guns to attempt to counter our arguments. The police, paramilitaries, far right organisations, state bodies, at times being put on the back foot, the ceasing of organised racist attacks for specific periods in specific areas. The concentration and public focus directed at the socio and economic conditions - deprivation of working class communities, i.e. the lack of housing, facilities and actively seeking to raise and to campaign on these issues.

The raising of Fortress Europe, real support and defence drawn up for those attacked, anti racism gigs, the expansion of the ARN into associations around Belfast and beyond, bringing the immediate situation to the worlds TV screens, solidarity with other wider issues, creating cross community support and activity, gathering and receiving solidarity from across the globe, at times beginning to push the tide of racism back, etc etc. Therefore the seven person steering group together from almost the onset, of myself, Sara, Leish, Steven, Barbara, Nathalie and Lekan with the activists within the ARN had now, in effect at this stage as was recognised by the media etc, had created a Movement against Racism. We were to later agree to the widening out of the steering group with other activists then also joining us, having been delegated from local branches.

Yet of course we had our critics, mainly the armchair activists, but there were those genuine activists who had raised concerns about the ARN not moving quick enough, or us having not raised various issues hard enough etc, which we acknowledged, learnt from, and moved to address.

Yet while the ARN in its early form, ‘I believe’, was not collectively hard enough on ‘some’ issues (re – in relation to some of its press releases that had been sent out by individuals), other leading individuals though were. I and others on the steering group had spoke and written, at those times, on the loyalist involvement in attacks, police and statutory bodies ineffectiveness, social and economic deprivation, Fortress Europe etc, which when the ARN agreed its direction, were to become regular issues to be addressed. Again though such issues needed to be raised and pushed for at times by persons as so to be ‘implemented collectively’ rather than spoke of individually. For me I say, read what I write (in my writings) or listen to what I say, to get a better understanding of ‘my’ position, from the horse’s mouth.

Below is an example of part of an ‘engagement’ at this time, I had with someone from a ‘differing’ organisation who held an understanding of how to deal with fascists groups. This engagement was on an open website for all to participate.
‘Dear Sean, in recent times on a number of occasions our mobilisations and our actions via various strategies has brought an end for a time to brutal and overt attacks in specific areas. This provided both a breathing space for the minority ethnic community and for the network to build roots. These various strategies where needed in specific situations due in many cases to local conditions that needed to be taken into account, which I cannot go into presently, but will in time.

In doing so, (creating an initial large broad platform) we are processing from that, to creating an activists based grassroots, community and trade union based Network. Which as stated, will mobilise on the streets to confront such organisations if they become visible.
So initially rather than getting solely the left into a room, and all that goes with that, we sought a broad front against the attacks. Differing tactics, Sean, are also needed when the enemy is not visible or slithers in the night.

As for a 'front for recruitment', putting aside that I have stated on numerous occasions even on this site that the issue and the campaigns should be the priority. I would hope, Sean, that you do not believe that I and others who have put their heads above water and into the public domain (and all that to date that has went with it, over the last year or so) to stand against such attacks, do it for any other main priority than to stand firm against these scum that terrorise the most vulnerable.

Sean, the ARN has worked many strategies, that to date has created breathing spaces on several occasions. Breathing spaces for the minority ethnic community but also breathing space for the network to expand and build.

With that now we can muster the support of, as stated, the minority ethnic organisations, human rights groups, grassroots environmental, anti war, anti globalisation, community, solidarity, women’s, community, student, gay and lesbian rights and campaign activists etc along side trade unionists, trades union councils, trade unions, and the trade union movement as a whole, as we had done in the last week.

And so, with that, we potentially have a movement that can mobilise our class against the fascists. We potentially can have a Network that can begin to mobilise workers and working class communities against such organisations if, and when, they become visible.
Of course various tactics are needed in various situations. Yet I have been in rooms in the past with solely the left and have seen the difficulties where ideological purism and sectarianism are rife, therefore the campaign got nowhere. My and others experience in initiating the Anti War Movement in the North and its mass historic mobilisations had taught us lessons that we have took into the initiation of the ARN.

On both occasions it was a broad front of many organisations including that of the trade union movement. And it was and is good to see the trade union movement standing firm both against the war on Iraq and now against the racial attacks.
With that support, the momentum, and the public profile created, the ARN steering group is now actively seeking to build grassroots community and trade union networks based on the mobilisation and activism within and of each.
In recent times we are starting to achieve that, and on top of that we are raising the issues of importance. Therefore we are working that now from a position of strength, with the collective involvement of many of the workers organisations involved, which was brought about by initiating that broad front and creating public momentum, as opposed to what I have experienced before of getting the left in the room and going nowhere fast.

So yes we differ on tactics, Sean, and I welcome your engagement. I hope such can continue in a fraternal way. I will say finally on your last point,
‘you don't talk about fascism, you smash it’

See you on the streets!

On that first part, Sean, we need to organise against it. Fascists don't always take to the street, they sometimes attempt a cloak of respectability, in a suit for example when they knock on your door, and they don't all have bomber jackets, DM boots and skinheads. Sometimes they come in the night, sometimes they embrace many working class sentiments against socio and economic deprivation, thus attempting to provide scapegoats. We also see many other underlying situations and issues at play in the North within communities. So they have many differing tactics, Sean, and we need to counter them via various avenues.

But at the end of the day, and fundamentally, it is the power of the working class and its organisations that can smash them if the become visible. The ARN by initially creating a broad front and public momentum now has the support of many such organisations. To date we have had to deal with those who are not visible but extremely dangerous and to date in many cases we have been successful.
At the end of the day, Sean, we hold tactical differences as how to prepare the ground and mobilise and we both have dealt to date with very different circumstances. Yet I agree that the fascists need smashed when they are visible and, one day if needs be, I will stand with you, firm, as will I believe a network of working class peoples and their organisations, if needed.

In the meantime we each in our differing ways need to crush and dis-able both the visible and more subtle aspects of them from the onset. Our tactics differ but our cause is the same. Solidarity, Comrade. D’

Then at this time, once again attacks started to intensify in their overt brutality, this not only again in South Belfast, but also around other areas of Northern Irish society. So again the steering committee of the Network met to seek once again to attempt to bring an end to such attacks. As we were by and large Belfast based we — as a steering group — sought to attempt to bring an end to the attacks in that specific area. This time as opposed to the last time we had built up some connections in and around the area and with that we had agreed to call an event within the ‘Loyalist’ Village area of South Belfast. We again had got the support from the Irish Congress on Trade Unions (ICTU) as well as all the main Trade Unions for whatever event we where to call to attempt to bring an end to the attacks. Again this was an important initiative by the steering group, but events where to dictate that we could not go ahead with the rally. In hindsight as I had acknowledged after, we should have had a backup initiative but the thing about the ARN is, that we will acknowledge and attempt to learn from mistakes, which I have already found in my short time as an activist that many other organisations are not prepared to do.
While this situation was developing I was invited to go into the Village and speak. When I had arrived at the venue with Leish and Steven from the ARN steering group, I had found the media interest to our arrival to be immense. At the meeting there was some finger pointing towards myself by some who should know better, nevertheless apart from this our presence was welcomed. Yet that night and the next, rioting and roadblocks broke out, and went up, in the Village area to which a Unionist politician had attempted to attribute those events to me, for speaking in the area ‘uninvited’. In fact I was invited, and in fact the rioting etc broke out due to arrests in relation to those very racist attacks. Despite this I was, and am held to blame for those riots by some, simply for speaking out against racist attacks. Nevertheless such rhetoric by that unionist politician, along with saying that ‘Davy is a racist’ which he wanted recorded at a local South Belfast meeting, showed his real priorities.

This situation also showed up for me in real terms what many already knew, as I had stated in Part 1 of my articles on the ARN. That those in a leadership from afar who had argued with me to ‘go into the area’ to ‘sort it out’, where in fact living in never never land. As I had said then, that that would have been absolutely madness (as even the dogs on the streets knew), but it seemed a handbook was argued to be followed, simply because I believe that it was there and should be followed. As I said before, such a specific situation at that specific time needed to work outside of that handbook. As here we had a situation where the ARN had build up a far bigger profile, had the support now of the Trade Union movement, all the main trade unions - minority ethic organisations, all the major human rights organisations etc and I had been ‘invited’ by the community into the area. With that there were two nights of rioting and quite a bit of hostility. Yet back at Xmas it was argued that we ‘uninvited’ go into such a tight knit community and into those that ‘controlled it’, this with the ARN still relatively unknown, this situation would have been hard enough. Yet most comrades (SWP) in Belfast knew that at least we (SWP) needed that support from not only within the area but more especially within the wider ARN, yet that support for good and logical reason was not forthcoming.

This because everyone knew the reality on the ground, and we therefore dealt with that reality in ’real terms’. And in doing so provided for a time a breathing space. Yet speaking to a leading comrade who came from afar at a later date he was still adamant that, despite what every other organisation who knew what was happening on the ground had understood, and thus their logical opposition to such a call. Despite also no support whatsoever from within the area, and despite of what was going on, those behind it, their history, and therefore a knowledge of their probable re - action. I therefore listened with disbelief as he said that we (SWP) as Revolutionary Socialists should have ‘went in’ to ‘sort it out’. Therefore there and then, ‘the nail had in effect been hammered right through’, in relation to my concerns over Democratic Centralism.

This had an impact on me as I knew I could not put myself in such a situation again where I knew that such a decision that I would have to follow (Democratic Centralism) would have been completely counter productive (with severe intensification of attacks) and potentially deadly to the minority ethnic community. This, at this specific time and at this specific place. Therefore I knew when I did not follow that argument and that some had not learnt, I believe, from that specific situation that I could not, and would not put myself in such a situation again. This where a decision was attempted to be taken from afar based not on the reality and knowledge of a specific local area and local activist knowledge from across the left spectrum, but rather on an all embracing handbook of tactics, which was argued to be followed. Of course in 95% of occasions there will of course be similar tactics used, even when one is not ‘invited’ into an area, or when one has limited support. This though ‘must’ be put into the context of, in this case, the total local historical and present situation, thus having a real assessment of the real outcome of any activity taken.

So once again the attacks for the time ceased, and with that it was argued to revitalise the South Belfast branch. Although the South Belfast branch on paper was the largest, it had been for a quite a while inactive. It had done some leafleting, postering and a stall but had not reacted or attempted to react in many cases to local attacks. Therefore an argument was made to revitalise it and an agreement was made to call a local rally. This rally was to coincide with media speculation and a police press statement for ethnic minorities to remain alert over the Sept 11 period (anniversary of attacks in USA) with the rally on Sept 10th. The South Belfast group started to build for the event and was supported from the central ARN, in relation to calling for support for the local rally. Also as the media had been contacting me in relation to the Sep 11th press statement I was able to use that also as a platform to advertise it, which I did via many local newspaper and TV outlets urging local people to attend, this in tandem with Barbara, the spokesperson for South Belfast. So on a miserable day with the rain pouring down over 120 local people showed their solidarity and attended. As Chair for the overall network, with whom the press usually sought interviews, I had asked if local activists could speak to the media and directed the media to local activists, rather then doing the interviews myself. I felt it was and is important for local activists and residents to be at the forefront of local events.

At this time the Belfast SWP met and we were all in agreement that we needed to argue for the ARN to call another mass rally. Although we (the ARN steering group) almost brought around the rally in the Village we agreed we needed another one soon, although had not tied down the fine details. Again I had problems with what some of the points that the Belfast SWP had raised at that meeting but was in agreement that we should press for a rally sooner rather than later. It therefore was not a matter of convincing people as to having a rally as the steering group had already decided that, but it was to press to make it sooner. So with the original members of the steering group and three other ‘delegates’ from other branches we met to hammer out the details. With that, we started to create public momentum and so by the time I had contacted ICTU (Irish Congress of Trade Unions) and had sought and got their support we had an impressive list of endorsements. They ranged from all of the main trade union and minority ethnic organisations through to all the political parties and main human rights organisations, as below,

‘Public endorsement and support already to date has come from, the Chinese Welfare Association, The Belfast Jewish community, The Indian Community centre, the Belfast Islamic centre, the Multi Cultural Resource Centre, The Latin American Support Group, Travellers Movement of Northern Ireland, the Refugee Action Group, Tools for Solidarity, Black Network, Afro Community Support Organisation, Sai Pak Chinese community group

Also from the trade union movement - to date - the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), as well as Unison, T&G, NIPSA and from the Belfast Trades Union Council, from the Fire Brigades Union of Northern Ireland, Trademark, Unison Community and Voluntary branch, the Independent Workers Union.

Support and endorsement also from the N.Ireland Human rights Commission, the N.Ireland Law Centre, The N.Ireand Children’s Commissioner, The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary action NICVA, the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland, Amnesty International Northern Ireland, Age Concern Northern Ireland, International Voluntary Service N. Ireland.
Political parties to date, DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP SDLP, Alliance, PUP, SWP, WP, SP, CPI, SEA

More Support from - STEP, Duncrun Cultural Initiative, the Fountain Men's Group, L/Derry, the Fountain Youth Club, L/Derry, and the Rasharkin Women’s Group, North Antrim, SCA, Cliftonville Community Regeneration Forum, Manor Street Cliftonville Residents and Environmental association, West Belfast Economic Forum, Women into Politics, UNESCO, The Blanket, Intercomm, Wheel works Youth Arts Organisation, IPSC, Organise!, Irish Football Associations Community Relations Office, Fourthwrite, The Independent Workers Union, The centre For Global Education - The One World Centre, the Future Way Programme’

Also during the build up of that month of October we lent support to various campaigns including the battle against deportation of the Somasundram family. We also seen in the public domain the loyalist paramilitary organisation the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) having put a quota as to how many Chinese families could live in the Village area of South Belfast while therefore forcing the Chinese Community who wished to build its new community centre on Donegal Pass, out of the area. With that we saw a leading DUP politician attempting to legitimise and justify the CWA community centre’s, in effect, removal, at the behest of a minority. This type of behaviour in effect directed our slogan for the march of No Excuses! which Flair from WARN! and now of the ARN steering group came up with.
I had also at this time been personally increasingly busier with ‘differing’ interviews and debates. Some of the more interesting ones included being flown to London to take the ‘GMTV sofa’ that went out live to millions around the UK. This interview was requested as part of Black History month. In another I had also my first TV debate with a leading Ulster Unionist politician, The Director of the CWA, and the Belfast Lord Mayor, on ITV. Also at this time I had did my first interview which wanted to account for my time growing up as a black kid in Belfast and also of the founding of the ARN movement, this on NVTV. These amongst others, where as stated, some of the more interesting requests I was receiving at this time.

The build up to the No Excuses rally started to gain momentum. We wanted a march and rally with a hard message against racism but also a rally that celebrated diversity. At this time the Belfast SWP comrades who where on the steering group had raised as to how many we had thought would attend the rally. They were both in agreement of 1000, I had thought though that that was pessimistic and had said if we build it properly we can get 2500 onto the street. In fact 2500 plus on Oct 2004, did at the end of the day rally with us. We had planned to have feeder marches on the day coming from South and West Belfast organised by the local ARN groups. Although the South march was small (around 25 persons) it nevertheless was loud and lively. As it marched down from South it met up with the larger West Belfast feeder parade which was lead by 10 – 15 foot bamboo poles hoisting aloft huge red banners, and followed behind was local community and solidarity banners. We were also linked up with others who had missed the start of the feeder march from West Belfast at entrances at Castle Street. So by the time we got to the central meeting point we where several hundred strong. I had been asked by several lead activists to lead of the march in the triangular formation of the red flags as we had done from the West. That is, myself leading of the march with the first red flag, two more behind that, three behind that and so forth.

It was with a sense of pride that I had lead of the march, the largest such march seen against racism. I had felt similar pride when I had marched holding and leading the Branch 8 NIPSA banner at the unofficial mass walkouts of civil servants, as my comrade Ryan (the lead organiser) took to the mike and the fore with the chants. Again also when I had lead the lead banner during the time of the Anti War Movement when again thousands marched behind it, as we made our way on the outskirts of Belfast to ‘greet’ the USA warmongering President who had arrived onto our small island to host a war summit, during the Iraq war. On each occasion that sense of pride was not only through ‘leading off’ some inspirational and historic movements and moments, but more especially that on each occasion leading activists within each campaign had suggested and indeed asked, if I would do so. I had of course lead of other banners on various diverse campaigns, from carrying a lead banner from ‘Ballymurphy’ entitled Ballymurphy against state collusion. Having been born into Ballymurphy I am considered a ‘Murph’ man, and marching directly behind the banner where many from the Murph including that of Gerry Adams. I had also lead of the lead banner at the Falls and Shankill march which had seen working class people from the Shankill march behind it. Then of course there was an ‘unprecedented’ incident when I was holding an Anti Racism banner and the combined leaderships of Northern Ireland’s loyalism where behind it. That is, David Ervine, as well as Tommy Kirkam, Frankie Gallagher, Frank McGoubrey, Jackie Mc Donald etc. Therefore I have found during eight years an activist that politics on many occasions can not only be inspirational but interesting at times.

And so with that we marched 2500 plus strong up through central Belfast streets on Oct 29th 2004. Speaking from the platform at the end on behalf of the ARN, as Chair of the ARN, I had raised many key issues of concern and the issues at the root cause of the problem such as, the ineffectiveness of the police and statutory bodies, the lack of resources in working class areas suffering socio – economic deprivation, the issue of racism being pushed down from above – No excuses to political representatives attempting to legitimise or justify racism, etc. One of the most visual or non visual aspects of the rally was the complete non attendance of Unionist representatives. Of the larger parties only, Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance were in attendance. A brief report below of the rally I had sent to the ARN network,
‘Dear friends over 2500 people attended the ARN rally against racism and for Diversity on Saturday.

A lively march came down from South Belfast which met up with a larger feeder march that came down from West Belfast. The WARN (West Against Racism Network) was lead by 15 foot flags and streamers with people carrying various banners and Placards. Loud, lively and colourful it then together marched around to the Art College to join up at the main meeting point.
The march itself stretched from Belfast City hall down Royal Avenue and beyond and putting aside the 10 minute delay at the front it took almost an hour for all to come in from the short walk.

Banners from Trade unions - trade union branches and community organisations joined human rights banners and home made, and solidarity banners, amongst others. The atmosphere although fun, loud, lively and colourful was at the same time sending out a strong message against Racism.

Many thanks to the activists who put in the work on the ground to bring this about, a collective team work approach by ARN activists ensured a good day, a positive result, and seeing the largest such Anti Racism rally to date. Therefore not only was a clear message(s) sent out but also many joined the ARN.

Local Networks will be meeting again shortly and pictures and a video shall go up on the site. If persons have any pictures that they wish to go up send them across to All the Best, D’

Yet despite this mass rally attacks continued firstly on the Lower Falls Road in West Belfast, this a few days later. It happened on the very streets where I as a child in the late seventies I had run the gantlet of racist abuse and physical attacks by the Brits and Peelers. Yet the response by the local community to this recent attack was inspiring, as reported below.

Falls road rally

Dear friends, last night saw a magnificent response by the local residents who came out at the corner of Violet Street, Falls Road, against attacks on Filipino Nurses. Three to four hundred people came out in a united stand against the attacks. Within a very short time of the attacks local residents had drawn up their own leaflet and where going to their neighbours homes to distribute them, seeing many of them coming out also and lending a hand. Last night’s turnout and atmosphere of solidarity I, and I presume all who attended, left one feeling inspired. While we gathered against the attacks carried out by a mindless minority, the community though in their hundreds responded as one in an untied stand and voice.

At the rally, when a member of the Filipino community had finished speaking, amongst the loud applause some one shouted out, 'you are very welcome' this to more loud cheers and applause. Another speaker, who is Chair of THE SCA, a fifty plus year resident of the local area, and a WARN supporter and activist, spoke of how the Filipino people were the community, that 'they are our community', he said, 'and deserve our protection as a community'. It was also raised that accommodation has been sought for the victims of the attack as so to be re - housed back into the community. Amongst the hundreds in attendance were also many members of the Filipino community - the West Belfast community.

The Chair finished of by thanking all in attendance and for persons to get involved in the local West Belfast ARN group.
This was a wonderful response which seen a local community and local residents from the onset pro active in dealing with the issue. A clear message was sent out that Racism will not be tolerated in the local area and that the community not only stands shoulder to shoulder with the Filipino people who are part of the community, but the community will also protect and defend them.
There was other attacks reported in the week following this rally including again in Belfast, this time it was North Belfast, to which, as I finalise this article the local North Belfast ARN group are dealing with. With a local rally called in North Belfast, the community like in the West last week are moving quickly on this issue. Update – below is a report I sent out to the network about the North Belfast Rally.

Dear Friends,
After attacks in North Belfast on persons from the minority ethnic community an immediate local response in the form of a picket was called. This later became a rally given the growing local support. So last night we saw up to two hundred persons rallying on a cold night out side the Fortwilliam shops on the Antrim Road. Again this was an inspiring local and immediate community response to these latest attacks which are happening now almost on a daily basis. The ARN now has local associations all around Belfast with groups also outside of Belfast. If persons want to get involved in their local group or indeed establish one then drop us a line at

These attacks, as stated, are increasing not only numerically but also in their viciousness and if they are not nipped in the bud it will be but a matter of time before, once again, someone is killed. Again we urge persons to get actively involved in the ARN or set up groups in your local community as so we collectively can begin to attempt to push back this wave of attacks and racism now happening around Northern Irish society. The ARN work many strategies but as a local commentator said this morning 'he had never seen before such local immediate response anti -racism rallies, after attacks on the minority ethnic community'.

Of course while we need to work to see that such rallies are not needed, we nevertheless know that such events send out a clear message to the bigots that residents within the local community are saying that such attacks will not be tolerated. And more especially at the same time showing both solidarity to the victims of the attacks and to let them know that they are welcome within the community.
Although the bigot’s actions put them on the news, the reality is that there is so much goodwill, support and solidarity that goes unreported that comes from the local communities. The ARN collectively through various avenues of our activity have had, and will have a vital role to play in attempting to push back this tide of racism that is becoming ever more numerical and brutal across Northern Irish society. So join us, get active and stand firm.

Therefore within a space of ten days or so the ARN and our supporters have held a march and rally through Belfast city centre 2500 plus strong. Then responded to the attacks in local communities. The Falls Road seen a magnificent local response of 300 – 400 people pouring onto the streets within a short space of time rallying to show support and solidarity. Then a few days later 200 more people poured out onto the streets again in an immediate local community response, this in North Belfast to again stand against the racist attacks in the local area.

And so the ARN, now a Movement, continues to grow and expand, and as it continues to be the lead active voice against racism, it will continue to mobilise and defend. We are the ARN!

As persons are now aware I have left the Belfast SWP. Below is the definitive links to my time there, and of the collective and personal campaigns I have been involved in and ideas that I have thought about. Firstly though below, let me clear up some of the after effects of my departure.

Since I have left the Belfast SWP there are of course all the accounts of what the SWP comrades had said and are saying about me, also of their past intense manoeuvrings to keep certain people apart or to keep certain persons off platforms etc, now being eagerly accounted by others. Such tittle-tattle I have little time for and more importantly little concern about. Then of course there are also the myths and the whispers of to my leaving and as to my position now. Such is the nature of things. . There are though issues that have been raised that are important and I will deal with a few of them. So briefly, apart from being called recently a Black radical, a Black rebel a Black anarchist, etc, I have also been called a ‘Half Prod’ by some. But I will say that,
NO, NO, NO, I am not going to join Sinn Fein, SDLP, IRSP, WP, SP, Alliance, PUP, CP, Socialist Democracy, WSM, Anarchist organisations, Jehovah’s Witness, the Moonies etc. Hope that makes that one as clear as possible.

Therefore I won’t be ‘privatising hospitals’ or joining the Black Bloc as some had risen!

Secondly I am not a Nationalist, ‘Republican’, Liberal, or indeed a ‘Loyalist Lover’. I am if one needs to define oneself, an Independent Socialist. And will work to, and attempt to, create a network of like minded persons, presently. Hope that clears that up.

Thirdly I read of someone mentioning the issue of ‘political authority’ and another with a bizarre thought as to my problems with Democratic Centralism (DC).On DC as I have said before some form of DC is needed, but my practical experience of it witnessed from many quarters and organisations, at this stage of my activism I believe in, that form is not for me. I had no problems following the line on 99.9% percent of issues and indeed at times when I fundamentally opposed something I nevertheless still ‘followed the line’ when I lost the argument. It has though been my recent experience in tandem with other issues such as feeling suffocated at this time. Also as to how one I believe should loosen one's top collar a tad in relation to rigid organisation as part of a diverse movement (which would make it easier to win others, within such a specific movement – in effect - to adapt without diluting). Of course you need to make collective party decisions to attempt to change the direction of campaigns, movements etc, but it is the way in which it is done I believe is as important, more especially at this time (down your throat politics will not work in this period). Therefore for me my problem is not with DC per say, but with witnessing some of the practical aspects of it, and therefore presently I wish to orientate my activism elsewhere. I believe (as thoughts run through my head) that such problems need not be thought insurmountable, therefore it is not to say in the years ahead that I may not return to a DC socialist organisation. Hope that clears that up.

Finally on Political Authority, I may if I ever find the time shall write an article on this, but for now. For me I hold respect for activists, (who may hold some political differences) but who are genuine on the ground hard grafting activist. This far more so than those who may be closer to my thinking but who almost solely comment and criticise in polemics from the side or from the comfort of their armchairs. Similarly in relation to ‘Political Authority’ and ‘respect’, there are those I see who have been around for decades who are to ‘the lead’ in their political organisation, and because of that ‘hold the tradition’, and with that, they therefore can and have gained experience, respect and authority within their relevant small organisations. This more especially within organisations that have a high turnover of membership, or very small membership. Yet of course such ‘Authority’ is of course won within such organisations – but is that the vital aspect of revolutionary activism? While such Revolutionary parties believe that they are the vanguard, one though cannot ‘lead’ the class without the participation of the class. Therefore without that Respect and Authority of the Class a Revolutionary party will not succeed in its aims of revolution.

Therefore for me, I look around at what is perceived to be the leader of Socialist organisations and indeed other leading figures, and see exactly what they have built around them outside of the confines of a small socialist organisation. It is far easier to win support in a small DC ideologically lead organisation, more especially if one ‘holds the tradition – and sticks to it’, and is seen as the leading figure over decades in relation to writing the most important articles or speaking at the most important meetings, this more especially to newer cadre. This is intensified if one believes that they have that ‘Authority’ to decide what can and cannot be forwarded to wider membership, or if one deals with the publications, the organisers, or in effect deals with the daily running of such an organisation. These had been some vocal problems some had raised in their various organisations over time.

It is though harder however to win and hold that respect within the class, the communities, workplace etc as a similar small socialist organisation or as an openly revolutionary socialist activist, where you actually have to win people of other ideas to your ideas and to support you in the course of local campaigns and struggles. It can be easy at times to get persons to march through the city centre but the real test is can one do similar from their workplace or within their local working class community.

Therefore for me my respect again more especially lay with those Socialist activists who can individually mobilise their class, their local communities, their trade unions, and their votes in large scale. Yet when I look around at some such leading activists of such small socialist organisations and see that while some of them from many differing organisations ‘hold the tradition and Authority’ of their said small socialist organisations after many decades of involvement, some of them though are irrelevant within the wider class, this in a sense that they within their locality or union have not and cannot mobilise support for their position and or campaign. Yet, thankfully I can see many who can. Revolutionary activism and political authority and respect is not confined to those that hold a long standing tradition within a said organisation and all that more ‘access’ that comes with it to help cement that very position. It is I believe more important when such respect and authority is held within the class.

Below are some of the links to my eight years as a member of the Belfast SWP in relation to some of our, and my, recorded activism and thoughts. Having walked into a cold drafty room in central Belfast as a fresh face to politics, I, as stated, had thought how we few (counted on one hand) people almost unknown outside of our own ranks could begin to effect change, as they had talked about at that first meeting. It then took four or so years since I first walked into that room of hard graft and work on the ground, but eventually we were to play leading and essential roles in helping to initiate and create mass united campaigns, rallies and movements onto the streets of Belfast. From the largest Anti Sectarianism rally ever seen during the conflict to the largest Anti War march and rally ever seen in the North, through to one of the largest mass unofficial workers walkouts, to then seeing the largest such Anti Racism march and rally also seen in the North, This putting aside the hundreds of militant youth we had mobilised as part of the Anti Capitalist movement for direct action onto the streets of Belfast, or the array of trade union banners fluttering in the wind from North and Southern Ireland for our stand against the 11-plus as we again marched through the streets of Belfast. On each we were to the fore in mobilising thousands and at times tens of thousands of Catholic and Protestant workers to stand together in unity. Although even a few years ago there was only one other active member who still remains in the Belfast SWP who had sat in that room with me at that time, the Belfast SWP since then had won some of the best activists into its ranks over that time which I to this day hold great respect for.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Jul 23, 2008 13:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear friends,

A number of meetings some may be interested in

The next Book- fair will take place in September

Link -

I shall be speaking on the Racism I had experienced as a child, and more especially on the history of the Belfast ARN, {the first such Anti Racism Movement ever seen in the North} – and of my lessons learnt.

There is also a meeting in August in which I will be speaking of my childhood growing up in Ballymurphy estate in the 70s’ during the height of the recent Irish ‘War, {and if time} through to the Belfast Anti War Movement and a brief History {the largest such Anti War Movement seen} – and lessons learnt

Meeting on 4th August at 7pm

Link -

Finally for now, I will be writing an extensive document for a Journal, on the -Irish Peace Process and the Working Class – I will forward details when published

Below, again for those interested my recent Diary has been updated

Link -

As Always,

In Solidarity

Davy Carlin

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Diary updated -

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Diary is updated with also an article on my thoughts on the Irish peace process

Link -

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Sep 15, 2008 14:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As I stated in another recent post {as the Belfast WSM continues to grow {as does the Anarchist Movement as a whole in Belfast and beyond } and with a number of recent successful actions etc} -

- the Belfast WSM has recorded its meetings from its beginnings, as the new technology can now enable such talks and discussions to get to a wider audience, and also the archiving of an oral record or history of the times, the debates, talks etc..

Below is link to teh 2nd successful Anarchist book fair in Belfast and a list of the meetings and recordings of each being available - teh one of racism and immigration {and the ARN} can be read along with an account of the ARN above in this thread - written at the time.

Also a record and account of the first successful Belfast Anarchist book -fair I had written

'The first such Belfast Anarchist Book fair has taken place. Hundreds of books, a variety of meetings and healthy debate and discussion were had by all. I had noticed quite a few ‘activists that I had not seen in a while there, and I had got to meet others from around the country and further afield. Many others who attended I had not known including a guy who had been in Seattle and for years had been doing his own small pamphlets and publications to get the message out. I have since read an article he did on Christianity, which was interesting, and will be in contact. For him, living out in the sticks he thought the event was brill! And with his stall by the door in the first room, he estimated between 120 – 150 came throughout the day, some to browse most to partake. The event itself I thought was excellent, the debate was good and solidarity was forthcoming for a number of workers in struggle and campaigns. It also showed that there is a growing thirst for such ideas and ways of organising local. Indeed Anarchism and Libertarian Socialism has put down its mark in Belfast at the first such event - which will only grow in the time ahead'.

Davy Carlin

As Always

In solidarity

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear friends,

I have sent up a new hotmail address, for new times.

This hotmail account has been an important part of my journey and has served my needs- and all previous has now been deleted

- and so a new journey begins.

I will still use it for sending out the odd e-mail to the collective networks and can be contacted here in a personal capacity

For political correspondence my new email is

And for those interested I will also set up a new Blog in Jan which I am in the process of writing –

Entitled ‘’ The Continuance of Change –The Belfast WSM – in the beginning

And so, to those who have followed that Journey of Change, the next stage begins

As always

In Solidarity


author by Davy Carlinpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2008 17:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those interested, a new Blog has been set up

A Continuance of Change



Related Link:
author by Davy Carlinpublication date Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As 2008 comes to end I again look back and read back at all that that has went before. I have lived through war and see the Peace in many regards. I see many things changed and others still to be changed. And through it all I have seen my political development, not only within those organisations I had been in or co founded but also through those web sites I had written for.

Indymedia was one of the first such in which I had debated, this from that naive young activist at times, right through to what I believe is now a seasoned activist. Yet like the Blanket which had served its purpose, for me I am to move on. In doing so I wish to write more in depth articles, via other avenues. Similarly I think my Blogs have served their purpose {for such times} -and so throughout and within such and their links, much can be read through and into, of such historic times, changes, movements, my activism within such- and more..

I will of course still read Indymedia {and WSM articles may be posted there}, but those debates on much such I shall now do elsewhere {although to a lesser degree than at the height of ones activism – as now that much is at ease there are still many other things in life I wish to do and to achieve as a still young man in my thirties , as written through my blogs – and will embark upon such as well},

As always

In Solidarity

Davy Carlin

Signing off

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Here is link to updated blog - I will continue to link various here -

As always in Solidarity

Link -

Related Link:
author by Davy Carlinpublication date Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors



Assemble : 12.30 p.m. Arts College Square. Marching to rally at Belfast City Hall.

See ya there

As always,

In Solidarity

Davy Carlin

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Fri Jan 09, 2009 14:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Over the last few days and even in some of today’s Northern media we see Stormont Executive Party politics at work in regard to the Middle East. The situation of continual Slaughter and the humanitarian crises has seen again the divide amongst party lines, and attempted pressure applied.

Some may buckle to it - others will not.

Bring banners whistles, friends and family and take a peaceful stand at this developing crisis.

There is not party politics in many minds when you see the devastation that is unfolding in the region – and the ground will be stood

Stand firm! –

See you tomorrow.

Davy Carlin

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A world changed and changing

- The 'Wider 'Movement

Yet again I say,

--'And so it begins -,

Link below is to an article I had written 4' years back - through out and within in, there are parts, that are important , for this Time, - and for the Continunace - of this thread, and this New era - over recent years

Link -

And also 'Within- A New Beginning -

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Support and Solidarity from the Movement

Over 5000 citizens marched and rallied in Belfast {under the banner of the ICTU} against the slaughter in the Middle East .

Looking at the horrific pictures of men women and children slaughtered in their hundreds, and of the very real war crimes that had been rained down upon them one sees how much is not at Ease in parts of the world.

This is something that needs to be at the forefront of our minds in the coming times – and indeed will be.

Further update on my blogspot in month or two ahead

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Blog updated
Link -

Related Link:
author by anarchist - ?publication date Wed Jan 28, 2009 15:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The WSM need not fear it's future with talented members like Davy playing a major role in the North.

author by Irish News Readerpublication date Wed Jan 28, 2009 18:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yesterday the Irish News carried a letter from a member of the WSM who supported the states position. I shit you not.

author by reader - nonepublication date Thu Jan 29, 2009 15:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Can anyone actually understand what Davy is on about? What he needs is an editor, or someone to proof-read what he has written, considering that he writes so much. What does "such much" mean, and is "I had seen" really preferable to "I saw". Maybe this is a Northern-Ireland colloquilaism but it makes it very difficult for his non-"Norn-Iron" audience.

Here is an example of where the subjects/objects of the clauses in the sentence seem to be indistinguishable/ irrelevant:
"Link below is to an article I had written 4' years back - through out and within in, there are parts, that are important , for this Time, - and for the Continunace - of this thread, and this New era - over recent years"

Sometimes a simple sentence construction; i.e. Subject-Verb-Object can have a far greater impact than the more ambitious stuff which Davy attempts. I find that he simply over-writes, without perhaps any planning/drafting or proof-reading. I mean if he doesn't read this stuff himself how does he expect anyone else to read it?

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Thu Jan 29, 2009 16:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Another One -

-- It has begun-,

'Link below is to an article I had written 4' years back - through out and within in, there are parts, that are important , for this Time, - and for the Continunace - of this thread, and this New era - over recent years.

LInk -


author by once a childpublication date Thu Jan 29, 2009 16:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

what reader doesnt understand is that davy is that 'once child, now man', which one sees, as in (and with that, real continuence), to see real change, but as the world looks upon that once child, as he stands upon the heavens, to see real change, he understands
(as some will see)
the times
the times they are a changing

author by readerpublication date Thu Jan 29, 2009 17:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“Once a Child"

What is your point exactly?

I know we shouldn’t take life too seriously, but surely a good anarchist can handle a little bit of constructive criticism.

I agree with giving writers a poetic license but surely the whole point of writing is that you're trying to communicate something. I imagine that Davy is much clearer when he speaks and that he is obviously capable of clearer communication. His lofty writing style just seems unnecessary when he would be much better off using plain English as this would be understood by his audience.

If he allowed himself a briefer word count his coherence would improve dramatically. A reduction in the quantity of words he uses would improve the overall quality for both reader and writer. At the moment he writes a few good sentences with many more incoherent ones. Why is it necessary to write so much? It is coherence and the strength of the message which matters to the reader not how much stuff Davy can get published on the net.

It’s like being at a political meeting; some people can express themselves succinctly and others just ramble on until the overall point is lost. Expressing yourself succinctly is something we can all learn and it’s obvious that Davy is well capable of this, given his political experience.

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Thu Jan 29, 2009 17:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Final One - {at this time}

-- It has begun-,

'Link below is to an article I had written 4' {7} years back - through out and within in, there are parts, that are important , for this Time, - and for the Continunace - of this thread, and this New era - over recent years.

-'D' -

Signing off -

author by Davy carlinpublication date Mon Jun 15, 2009 17:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Link -

In Solidarity


Related Link:
author by Davy Carlinpublication date Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear friends, {for those interested]

Here is the link to my new Blog - now updated

As Always,

In Solidarity

Davy Carlin


author by Davy Carlinpublication date Thu Jun 03, 2010 14:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Link -


For those 'interested

Below is part of my blog input to go up in a few months on my 40th -

I was downtown recently in a local book shop when I heard from the back of the room ‘Zionist Bas***** just as bad as the Nazis, Pirates and murderers, etc etc. Indeed I have heard in the hours since, real anger and more, much much more, as the Israeli state once again, on many eyes, showed again their true colours.

Yet, I have long heard and indeed been a part of such anger, time and time again, when the Israeli state once again danced on the template of/for democracy and indeed humanity, while voicing victimhood.

I had heard it from thousands

‘Now thousands called out 'Free Palestine, Free Palestine, Freeeeee Palestine' as flags waved and voices echoed as one all around Belfast as they had done similarly around Genoa - it was both an unbelievable sight and sound not witnessed in such a form and scale in Belfast city.

Taken from my article on the blanket site –

{Belfast - Building A Mass Anti-War Movement: Tens of Thousands March In Belfast on February 15’Th 2003

Davy Carlin • 30’.03’.03’

Through to hearing such from individuals, {in recent hours}

And so I was coming home in a taxi in recent hours when a child of 10 or 11 heard the commotion on the radio and asked their father what it was all about. The father then gave what would be described as a short but balanced history of the region including that of the brutality and dehumanisation that had happened to the Jewish peoples in many parts of the world {which brought visible sadness to that kids face} – and those International who stood and fought against such brutality and in solidarity {in its many forms} with the Jewish people at the time.

Then when speaking of the brutality and dehumanisation happening now to the Palestinian people I saw again the visible sadness on the kids face.

Yet it was the words of that kid that struck a cord with me, ‘How can they do this after going through all that’. Indeed it is a question I had heard many ask in the context of such history.

But it was the answer given by another kid a few years older who had sat silently listening to the conversation’ ‘they do it because they can, because they are allowed to’ Indeed a point that is already acknowledged by millions – and growing.

And as I got out of the taxi I felt anger swell to my eyes that I had not felt in a long time, as I thought of recent years and the still brutality and slaughter of innocents, of the repression, the occupation, the slow strangling and blockade, the still sticking up of fingers to the International world, the ignoring, snubbing {and laughing behind closed doors} of many International laws of democracy that they continually break and ignore, this, and more, much much more.

‘They do it because they can, because they are allowed to’ I mulled to myself, and I thought of many other countries that would be hounded and rounded on if they did but a ounce of what the Israeli state has and is doing.

And as always as grassroots citizens, progressives and right thinking leaders continue to lend support and solidarity {in such times of need} while others literally are laying their lives on the line - {and so while living in the immediate world }– it is time, that those with the clout, those with the immediate say so, for a start, say enough is enough and stand firm against this ongoing injustice and eventually for a peaceful and just resolution.

Indeed it is ironic that the Israeli state talks about stability and democracy, as I foresee that it is indeed their actions that very well may be central to the instability that will be felt across this world – in time – as they continue their cocky, destructive, brutal, unjust, callous and undemocratic ways.

There is no if's, no buts about that

It is time for change, one way or another

Related Link:

author by Davy Carlinpublication date Thu Jul 01, 2010 14:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The above post will be part of my final input in the months ahead

Below is the final blog that will be continually updated with various articles on the early years of activism, for those interested

Link -


author by Davy Carlinpublication date Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those interested,

I have and am presently updating the 'At the Time' blog with a few media snippets taken at the time of the various Movements I was involved in beginning a decade or so past..

I link it here, for those interested, as both the Blanket and Indymedia carry the majority of my writtings, recordings and thoughts.

Link -
I will update the rest over the next week, again this is both for oneself for looking back, and for those who may be interested

My final blog input, entiled -The end of that Visible journey', will go up on 10.10.10

As Always,

In Solidarity


author by Davy Carlinpublication date Mon Oct 11, 2010 13:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those interested

Here is the final input of my blogs for that era

It is written in more personal terms and so should be read in that context.

Once again I would like to thank Indymedia for the,Vvital, open platform that it has provided over the years.

As Always

In Solidarity


author by Davy Carlinpublication date Tue Nov 09, 2010 14:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those interested

Below is the link to new blog for the next few years

link -


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