IRELAND: Don't forget Dublin!
DUBLIN — Among the millions marching on February 15, there were more
than 100,000 on the streets of Dublin. That was the official number being
cited not only by enthusiastic activists, but by hostile newspapers and
a vacillating government. For a city the size of Dublin, it was massive.
The day was bitterly cold but bright. There was a carnival atmosphere.
The placards ranged from “Not in our name” and “No blood for oil” to “Down
with this sort of thing” (does the Father Ted reference carry down
Those who have marched that route many times before were in new company
as people of all ages joined their first-ever protest. There was something
new and hopeful in this coming together at Parnell Square, moving down
O'Connell Street, past Trinity College, past Dail Eireann, on to the Department
of Foreign Affairs in Stephen's Green and then back to College Green. I
have never seen anything quite like it here.
In Stephen's Green, it was announced that much of the march had still
not left Parnell Square. The march began to move along parallel streets.
At one point, the beginning of the march met later sections and stood still
to cheer them as they passed.
It was not just about the threatened war on Iraq that brought people,
it was the way power is being exercised in the world. This massive march
might not stop the war, but it did expand the bonds of human association.
Those who have taken it upon themselves to speak in the name of “the international
community” have been confronted with the reality (even though they may
ignore or override it) that they do not do so.
The people of Dublin were saying that they are the “international community”
and that the devastation of an already devastated society would not be
done in their names. It was also about themselves and the sort of world
in which they want to live.
The atmosphere around the universities in Ireland lately has been inspiring.
The younger generation, who have been inclined to be critical but to feel
powerless, have been feeling a rising sense of their power, power to at
least say something to the world, power perhaps even to bring an alternative
into the world.
[Helena Sheehan teaches at the Dublin City University.]
From Green Left Weekly, February 26, 2003.
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