Rebellion in Dublin
Youth attack pro-British parade and corporate symbols
Published Mar 5, 2006 9:01 AM
“Orange” Protestant organizations attempted to march on Feb. 25 in
Dublin, Ireland, a mostly spontaneous rebellion decisively shut down the parade.
Before the rebellion.
The label “Orange” refers to the victory in 1690 of
Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II, which intensified
British colonial rule over Ireland. Today, the Unionist movement in Northern
Ireland and its extreme faction of Loyalists remain loyal to the British crown
and favor continued union with Britain. These Loyalists receive backing from
Britain, which still occupies six counties in the North of Ireland.
year on July 12 these Klan-like organ izations celebrate William of
Orange’s victory by laying siege to nationalist, primarily Catholic,
communities, parading through their towns. The Loyal ists count on support from
Britain, especially when they meet resistance from Republican forces, who are
trying to liberate Ireland from imperialist occupation and unite their country
in one Irish Republic.
Youths set up barricades
This year, Unionist organizers named their
divisive parade in Dublin “Love Ulster,” their name for the six
northern counties that are not part of the Irish Republic.
On Feb. 25,
Orange parade participants, mostly from the north, lined up for the event. The
march was organized by various groups, including Families Acting for Innocent
Relatives (Fair) and Unionists from the Dublin City Council. Their intent was to
march down O’Connell Street past the General Post Office—a revered
site of the 1916 Easter Rising for Ireland’s freedom.
This April is
the 90th anniversary of that uprising, led by James Connolly. It is also the
25th anniversary of the deaths of 10 hunger strikers in 1981. Led by Bobby
Sands, these Irish Republican Army members behind bars had fasted to the death
to demand recognition of their status as political prisoners.
Unionists attempted to march, they were confronted initially by a youthful group
of several hundred, according to press accounts. The reactionaries turned back
after being pelted with bricks, home-made petrol projectiles and rocks, which
also hit several Irish police, or gardai, who were present.
As the gardai
moved in to suppress the resistance, the counter-demonstration grew to over
1,000. During pitched battles that lasted more than three hours in Dublin Center
and on nearby city streets, some of the protesters smashed windows of stores
seen as most representative of capitalism and imperialism, such as McDonalds.
Eventually the Irish police placed the “Orangies” on buses
and sent them packing. The Loyalists have vowed to return soon, possibly within
the next month, reports the Feb. 27 edition of the Belfast Telegraph.
At least 42 resisters were arrested. Irish police and state officials say
they will be arresting more after viewing video surveillance tapes. Unionists on
the Dublin City Council, Justice Minister Michael Mc Dowell, who called the
rebellion “orchestrated political terror,” and Taoiseach (Prime
Minister) Bertie Ahern also vowed to hold a “riot inquiry.”
The British government as well as Ahern and other Irish officials accuse
Sinn Fein—the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA)—and
other Repub lican organizations, such as Republican Sinn Fein and the Irish
Republican Social ist Party—of allegedly “instigating” the
But Indymedia Ireland reports that the Feb. 25 actions were
“an expression of the anger of the most marginalized sector of
Dublin’s urban poor.”
Many of the youth chanted nationalist
slogans, according to news accounts, and one group held up a banner,
“Remember Bloody Sunday.” Indymedia reports that those watching the
rebellion mostly sympathized with the counter-demonstrators.
U.S. moving in concert with
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams had urged his party members
not to confront the Loyalists’ march and, according to the Belfast
Telegraph, condemned the resistance to it.
It is possible that Sinn Fein
believes the U.S. and Britain were using the Loyalist march as a provocation to
create sharper sectarianism between Catholic and Pro testant workers and to
split the party into factions, or alienate it from the Irish masses on the
island and in the diaspora, specifically in the U.S.
It could also be
that Adams is trying to keep Sinn Fein from becoming isolated at a time when the
party remains in negotiation with the British government regarding policing
reform in Northern Ireland. Legislation is currently being debated which would
devolve policing and justice to elected officials in the north of Ireland, which
Sinn Fein has been lobbying for.
A Feb. 25 Irish Northern Aid bulletin
says that “The U.S. Special Envoy, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, has barred
Gerry Adams once again from attending a fund-raising event unless the party
endorses the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland]. This time it is a
Friends of Sinn Fein breakfast at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., on the
morning of March 16.” This is the second time in recent months that Adams
has been denied a U.S. visa.
“The IRA moves over the past months in
standing down as a military force and totally decommissioning its arms seem to
have stimulated the U.S. administration to punish Sinn Fein. The IMC
[Independent Monitoring Commission], which is neither independent nor monitors
anything—it is told what to report by the PSNI—just happens to be
visiting the U.S.,” continued the bulletin of the U.S.-based solidarity
Meanwhile, the Democratic Unionist Party, led by ultra-rightist Ian
Paisley, is opening a U.S. office with the full support of Washington. Is this
another U.S. move in concert with the British to sabotage the Good Friday
Accords that Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army have adhered to in good
U.S. controls Ireland, too
Colonialism and partition
have kept many in the 26 counties of the Irish Republic mired in poverty. Of the
3.4 million people living there, over 55 percent earn below the poverty level or
live in a household headed by someone unemployed. When Northern Ireland is added
in, a total of 5 million people live in Ireland’s 32 counties.
Although Britain is the most well-known colonial subjugator of
Ireland—controlling the economy and political structure, as well as
sending troops and other repressive forces for over 800 years—the U.S.
today, and for some time, has controlled Ireland as well.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a junior partner in the U.S.-led colonial war
in Iraq, has used this relationship to pressure Ireland. This geographical area
is a strategic military location, vital to controlling the sea routes in the
North Atlantic and access to Europe and the Mediterranean. Former U.S. Gen. Alex
ander Haig often reminded U.S. imperialists of this, pointing out that if
Ireland were independent it “could become the Cuba of Europe.”
In the current Iraq War, U.S. military vessels have docked at
Ireland’s ports. Shannon Airport is being used by the U.S. and Britain as
a staging point in the occupation of Iraq and a conduit for the transfer of CIA
prisoners undergoing “extraordinary rendition.” All this is a clear
violation of Ireland’s neutrality stance.
Thousands of Irish people
have campaigned and protested against U.S. war and repression.
U.S. transnational corporations are the largest investors in Ireland and take in
the most profits.
But recently many high-tech corporations have begun
laying off Irish workers en masse and even moving elsewhere in search of higher
rates of profit. As the “Celtic Tiger,” specifically in Dublin, has
begun to stagnate economically, social conditions have continued to deteriorate.
The runaway corporations leave in their wake abandoned buildings, lost tax
revenue and psychological scars.
At the same time, as the youth rebellion
demonstrated, consciousness of the role of capitalism is rising.
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