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May Day 2010 Celebrated in Cork

category cork | worker & community struggles and protests | feature author Tuesday May 04, 2010 17:12author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.) Report this post to the editors

A day of talks, food and fun at Solidarity Books and the Trade Union March on the city's streets

featured image
Noel Murphy speaking at Solidarity Books

As once again Cork's mainstream trade unions declined to publicly celebrate the everlasting memorial day to working peoples' struggles worldwide, it falls to Solidarity Books/Workers Solidarity Movement Cork Branch and the Independent Workers Union to mark this most important of days. A day of public talks and a community meal was organised by the local branch of the WSM at Solidarity Books, which complemented excellently the annual May Day march through the city streets this evening organised as usual by the Independent Workers Union.

Cork's May Day public activities began at 12 noon at Solidarity Books when Noel Murphy of the IWU spoke on workers' rights in Ireland today, followed by a very informative question and answer session. The audience then repaired across the road to the beer garden of Fionnbarra's (thanks once again!) to share a community meal prepared all morning at Solidarity Books by a hard-working volunteer crew as well as salad and cakes brought by generous Cork socialist activists. After the multitudes were fed, back at Solidarity Books Claire McCarthy of Nasc gave an overview of migrant workers' rights today. She was followed by Joe Moore of the Cork Anti-Racism Network who talked on Racism in Ireland today - a class-based perspective, and the afternoon's programme of talks was concluded by James McBarron of Cork WSM who spoke on the partnership process, its legacy and the state of the Irish trade union movement today. All of the talks were followed by lively discussion and questions to the speakers, and all the day's talks were well-attended, which made for a little bit of a crush at times.

There followed a fancy-dress march from the bookstore on Douglas St. over to Lapp's Quay to join up with the IWU-organised main march at its starting point. The numbers attending the march this year were down a bit on last year; this was perhaps due to the march being on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend, the 'pro-capitalist' showery weather, or maybe this was symptomatic of the demoralisation Irish working people must surely feel when the big unions' leaderships which should be defending their interests instead capitulate to the government and attempt amongst other betrayals to sell the Croke Park 'deal' to a public service workforce already punchdrunk from assaults to their pay and conditions of service. In any case the May Day marchers paraded proudly down the city's main streets to Daunt Square once again, to remind friend and foe alike that there are working people who remember well how the few rights and freedoms the common man and woman still enjoy today were won, who won them for us, and how dearly they were paid for.

The May Day marchers then listened to short speeches from elected representatives, local political activists and spokespersons from several campaign groups active in Cork. Among those who spoke were city councillors Ted Tynan(Workers Party) and Mick Barry (Socialist Party), James McBarron (Workers Solidarity Movement), Alan Davis (Cork Women's Right to Choose), Anne McShane (Hands Off the People of Iran) and Ray Hanrahan (Cork Shell to Sea). This was then followed by Jamie on guitar singing and playing the 'Internationale' and DJ music in the square for an hour or two afterwards. There was also a free rock gig organised by the IWU (& allies) at the Spailpín Fánach on South Main St. tonight, which wrapped up Cork's 2010 celebration of the heritage of the global working-class liberation movement.

Busy May Day kitchen crew!
Busy May Day kitchen crew!

Mmmmm... May Day - tasty!
Mmmmm... May Day - tasty!

Community Meal at Fionnbarra's, May Day, lunchtime
Community Meal at Fionnbarra's, May Day, lunchtime

Claire McCarthy of Nasc during her talk.
Claire McCarthy of Nasc during her talk.

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.)publication date Sat May 01, 2010 23:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Continuing from Claire's talk to prepations for the evening's march.

Also, we wish to remember a friend and visitor to us in Cork from Oaxaca/Chiapas in Mexico, the late Alberta 'Bety' Carino, who was murdered by right-wing paramilitaries this week. We honour her memory and grieve over her loss to her people and to us, half a world away but part of the same struggle which unites us all in blood and love.

Joe Moore of CARN talking on Racism today in Ireland
Joe Moore of CARN talking on Racism today in Ireland

James McBarron of Cork WSM during his talk
James McBarron of Cork WSM during his talk

The Green Man - May Day is his day too!
The Green Man - May Day is his day too!

Getting ready to go on parade for May Day
Getting ready to go on parade for May Day

In memory of Bety - please read
In memory of Bety - please read

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.)publication date Sat May 01, 2010 23:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

More photos from the May Day 2010 celebration at Solidarity Books.

Mother Jones - one of Cork's many famous Working Class Heroes
Mother Jones - one of Cork's many famous Working Class Heroes

Bread and.......
Bread and.......

...... eh, daffodils!
...... eh, daffodils!

Bearded Lady at Solidarity Books!
Bearded Lady at Solidarity Books!

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.)publication date Sat May 01, 2010 23:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Photos from the fancy dress 'feeder parade' and the May Day march proper.

Marching from Solidarity Books to join the IWU march
Marching from Solidarity Books to join the IWU march

All around the Maypole, Lapp's Qy.
All around the Maypole, Lapp's Qy.

The May Day march sets off
The May Day march sets off

The May Day march on Patrick St.
The May Day march on Patrick St.

May Day marchers at Daunt Sq.
May Day marchers at Daunt Sq.

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.)publication date Sat May 01, 2010 23:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Some of the speakers who spoke to the assembled marchers at Daunt Sq.

Alan Davis - Cork Women's Right to Choose
Alan Davis - Cork Women's Right to Choose

James McBarron - Cork WSM
James McBarron - Cork WSM

Mick Barry - Socialist Party city councillor
Mick Barry - Socialist Party city councillor

Ted Tynan - Workers Party city councillor
Ted Tynan - Workers Party city councillor

Anne McShane - Hands Off the People of Iran
Anne McShane - Hands Off the People of Iran

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.)publication date Sat May 01, 2010 23:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A few final shots from the day of celebration for working people everywhere.

Jamie playing after the political speakers
Jamie playing after the political speakers

Local legend Pat the Picket takes the Bearded Lady for a twirl round Daunt Sq.
Local legend Pat the Picket takes the Bearded Lady for a twirl round Daunt Sq.

May Day message on Daunt Sq. pavement
May Day message on Daunt Sq. pavement

More May Day messages on the Daunt Sq. pavement
More May Day messages on the Daunt Sq. pavement

author by John Jefferiespublication date Sun May 02, 2010 10:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A few more photos of the Cork May Day march, Saturday 1st May 2010.

What's left of Connolly's words on Cork SIPTU HQ
What's left of Connolly's words on Cork SIPTU HQ

The words of  "es Con nly"
The words of "es Con nly"

March at Parnell Place
March at Parnell Place

Moving greenery
Moving greenery

Workers Party
Workers Party

author by John Jefferies - WPpublication date Sun May 02, 2010 10:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry I put up duplicate photo in error.

See above also the disgraceful condition of the quotation from James Connolly on the front wall of SIPTU's Cork headquarters at Connolly Hall. Several letters are missing including most of James Connolly's name, others have just rusted away. It's been that way several years.

the Workers Party
the Workers Party

PC Tom leaving his mark
PC Tom leaving his mark

In Daunts Square
In Daunts Square

Daunt's Square
Daunt's Square

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.)publication date Sun May 02, 2010 13:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In my main report I forgot to mention that the assembled marchers at Daunt Sq. kept a minute's silence to remember the passsing of the late Paddy Mulcahy, a stalwart and true trade unionist of Cork city who died recently. The minute's silence was led by Ted Tynan, who spoke briefly about Paddy and his dedication to the cause of the working class.

author by Hopeful Listenerpublication date Mon May 03, 2010 02:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is there any audio of the talks and q/a sessions that could be uploaded? Would be interested to hear what was said.

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers. cap.)publication date Tue May 04, 2010 21:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hopeful Listener, unfortunately the audio recording of the day's talks was the one thing that was overlooked in the last-minute whirl of getting things ready for the big day so alas!, there are no sound files available for all but definitely one of the talks at Solidarity Books on May Day 2010. It's just about the only thing that Cork WSM overlooked on the day, so HL you have my sincerest apologies as well as that of Cork WSM for this terrible oversight. However, Scooter from Go Productions was filming James McB's talk at least and he may have been filming the earlier ones too (but definitely not Noel's for Scooter was late getting to Solidarity Books) - we might be able to prevail on him to post audio files of the talk/s he has filmed either here on this thread or on the WSM website www.wsm.ie. Sorry about that HL, and follow this story on the 'Latest Comments' listing here on Indy to see when (and if) the audio files that are out there are posted for public listening.

author by Green Man - Nameless Faery Hordepublication date Fri May 07, 2010 00:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No-one has yet covered this so I'll have to do the job. No photos of it I'm afraid, maybe someone else can oblige.
This was the 10th year of an event that occupies a special place in my heart and I think those of a few others that more serious political commentators have yet to recognise.
About 10 years ago a random and disparate group of individuals inspired by such as the Free party movement and Reclaim the Streets and despondent at the moribund state of the traditional Mayday march undertook to enliven the event and make it more relevant to younger people by organising a dance party to take place after the speeches.
This has since gone off successfully for 10 years in a row with minimum discussion and minimum hassle (despite some people’s fears) and has attracted significantly larger numbers than the march itself. It has also to be said that there has been little cross over between the march and the party with most of the established political groups vacating the square and leaving the space to a more hedonistic crowd made up of random passers by, fancy dress fetishists, an offbeat crowd, some of whom have been coming along to this event for several years now and the few lefties who understand and demonstrate what Emma Goldman meant when she said
"If I can't dance it's not my revolution"
For those who would disparage such hedonism and fail to appreciate what is radical or revolutionary about dancing for free in the heart of a city's commercial district let me explain it to you.

Capitalism seeks to commodify everything, including our bodies and our inner lives. In a truly free society the way we inhabit our bodies and the way in which we move would be radically different from what we now experience. Most of us have been emotionally crippled through our upbringing in a deeply sick culture. This emotional crippling extends to our physical bodies and hinders our ability to relate freely to our fellow human beings and the Earth. I've been to far too many political meetings made up of talking heads debating theories, ideologies, tactics and strategy that fail to appreciate this fact and so remain ultimately dry, sterile, unsatisfying and ineffective. The few times we manage to move beyond this and engage our emotions are memorable for their rarity. They happen far too rarely because most of us lack the necessary experience of this in our day to day lives to be able to freely move into that space. Our emotional responses are limited often to helpless anger and to move beyond this scares us beyond measure.
Fear/nervousness/discomfort is the gate keeper and a sign post. Try moving through it.

Dancing is a way out of this. It enables us to shake loose what William Blake called the "mind-forged manacles" and get back in touch with deeper, more powerful parts of ourselves and with our companeros. After a couple of hours dancing with someone I feel a f*ck sight closer to em than after sitting through weeks of meetings.
It is a shame that the left in Cork fail to understand this and so miss a wonderful opportunity to connect with a whole layer of people who might not have read Marx or understand the history of the Spanish civil war but who do know what it means to freely enjoy themselves and so will be unwilling to be pushed around.
I’d like to see a few more of my comrades stick around for this event next year and find some creative ways to engage with and feed into the joyful mayhem.

As to this years event itself a few things stick in my mind.
People’s responses to it. I watched folk, out for a Saturday night come upon us and I watched their whole demeanour change. Some were plain freaked out, some smiled and moved on, some stayed and watched, some jumped straight in and had the time of their lives. Either way it had a big ripple effect on the whole of Cork city that night.

Another thing that made it memorable was the apparently enlightened response of the Gardai. In previous years they have made their presence well noticed, standing around the edge of the square looking cross and spoiling peoples’ buzz. When questioned on this policy they claim to be either protecting us from ourselves or from the general public. Yeah right. This year, for whatever reason, no such thing, they left us alone to get on with it barring a few drive bys by the Armed Support Unit during the speeches and the n early constant attention of the two CCTV cameras that cover the square. What they make of it, I do not know.
What can be the reason for this turn around? Could it be they were showing some form of solidarity in the light of their own problems with their employer? Perhaps they simply had too much else on? Dare we to hope that someone in the force in Cork has had the realization that a group of people dancing in the streets is well able to mind itself and needs no help from an external authority and that in a society where people are free to express themselves and treated like adults there will be less violent crime?
Whatever the reason this was a welcome development and we congratulate the Gardai for this mature approach while making it clear that it can be no excuse for other more serious breaches of the trust we ought to be able to place in them.

author by johnnypublication date Sat May 08, 2010 14:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

are you for real?? seriously?
'could it be that they were showing some form of solidarity'
answer most definetely no!
the armed response unit did 'drive bys' as you called them because that is all they do.
you say you 'congratulate the gardai' for their 'mature approach'
the gardai and the state apparatus as a whole does not take you 'dancers' seriously and it does not see you as a
potential threat to stability,it does not see you as revolutionary and quite frankly i would say most of the revolutionary
organisations in cork dont either.

'for those who would disparage such hedonism and fail to appreciate what is radical or revolutionary about dancing for free in the heart of the cities comercial district let me explain it to you'.
thanks for explaing it to me!
enjoy your street partys but dont kid yourself or try and kid other people into thinking that they are in anyway revolutionary.

author by anarkitty - wsmpublication date Sun May 09, 2010 14:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

to those who are interested in audio files of the different talks - there are actual videos of them on solidarity books youtube channel - subscribe today! :)

Related Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhgrD-xQSXI
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