Yesterday, 14th April 2012, thousands of people protested at the Labour Party Conference in NUIG. Though the protesters were a diverse group, representing many different causes and campaigns, they were all united in their disgust at this government’s, in which the Labour party is a partner, selling out of Ireland and the Irish citizenry.
At the protest Galway Alliance Against War held a symbolic funeral for Irish neutrality which has been sold to the US imperialist war machine by successive governments since the beginning of the ‘war on terror’. Since then, millions of US troops have passed through Shannon airport on their way to and from the illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. People have also been transported through Shannon airport to be tortured at Guantanamo prison camp and other torture sites.
While a largely corporate and compliant media consistently ignores the illegal use of Shannon airport for such crimes against humanity and the actual and terrible violence being visited on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, it reported erroneously today on violence from the GAAW, among others, at the Labour conference protest. Indeed John Drennan in the Sunday Independent is quite hysterical: “Over 1,000 protesters, using a mock coffin as a weapon, breached the garda cordon surrounding the conference on the campus of NUI Galway and protesters made it to the doors of the hall.” That bears repeating: “using a mock coffin as a weapon” – really? What? The violence on the day was the use of pepper spray by the Gardaí. This kind of reporting is typical of the mainstream media in Ireland, the actual brutal and terrifying violence employed against innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan is largely ignored and an anti-war group characterised as violent. Such rhetoric is constantly used so as to legitimise war and those who wage it while simultaneously demonising those who protest it, who refuse to accept the casual slaughter of people with our complicity. I seem to remember that some prominent Labour party people once shared such views….politics…..
The GAAW has made a statement on this reportage and it is reposted in full below.
The majority of the commentary around the protest, is as usual, skewed in favour of the establishment and ultimately has little respect for people’s democratic right to protest and to resist injustice. Labour party members also called us “bullies” and “scumbags”, confirming that they too merely pay lip service to true democracy.
I have stood with these good people in Shannon warport many times, and am proud to do so. Equally, I am proud of all the people who protested yesterday and delighted to have been among them. One of the chants on the day was :”This is what democracy looks like” – perhaps that’s why the government and the media get so nervous and hysterical about it. One day we may have a society founded in equality and fairness and we won’t be governed by those who think that bombing people in distant lands is alright but that protesting it is not.
GALWAY ALLIANCE AGAINST WAR
Labour Party Conference: “Violence, What Violence?” – Galway Peace Group
In reaction to press reports of violence during the protests at the Labour Party conference at NUI Galway, Galway’s local peace group, the Galway Alliance Against War, has issued the following statement.
“GAAW’s symbolic funeral for Irish neutrality was at the head of Saturday’s protest march to the Labour Party conference. The tricolour-draped coffin carried by four pallbearers dressed as Guantanamo prisoners was a poignant image with a strong message: Irish neutrality is dead since consecutive Irish governments – including the FG-Labour coalition – have colluded with Washington’s disastrous “war on terror”, which has turned Shannon airport into a US warport.
“ In response to the sensational media reports of violence, we would ask, what violence? Apart from the unnecessary use of pepper spray by the Gardaí there was nothing other than some pushing and shoving. It has to be said that the Gardaí were quite restrained. This reflects the disaffection of the Gardaí with the policies that are impacting on the vast majority of Irish citizens, including members of the Gardaí. But perhaps the most ludicrous media report was that our coffin was used as a “battering ram”. The fact that nobody was hurt by the coffin – only by pepper spray – shows that report to be nonsense.
“If the Irish media wants to know about violence then perhaps it should turn its attention to the military hardware including chemical weapons that have travelled through Shannon warport en route to Iraq and Afghanistan. Take a look at the reports of the US attack on Fallujah in 2004 and its aftermath, where white phosphorous was used that came via Shannon.
“Or maybe the Irish media should read the testimony of “extraordinary rendition” victim Binyam Mohamad. His CIA kidnappers and torturers travelled through Shannon warport on two occasions and even stayed overnight en route to bring Mr Mohamad to torture. Now there is real violence. The Irish state was in breach of international law. And the present government is also in breach, as Gilmore has refused to search any of the US warplanes travelling through Shannon, preferring to accept the highly unreliable assurances of his confidant the US ambassador.
“And if the Irish media has still not got an understanding about what violence is, then maybe they should look at the body count from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So far more than 1.5 million people have been killed. And Irish governments under Fianna Fail, the PDs, the Greens, Fine Gael and Labour have been accessories to these killings. Yes, they have blood on their hands and so has the Irish people because we have failed to prevent our airports and air space to be used by the US warmongers.
“Indeed, Eamon Gilmore in his speech to conference hailed his government’s collusion in the “war on terror” in Afghanistan as something to be proud of: ‘I want to pay tribute tonight to …the members of our Defence Forces and Gardaí serving in … Afghanistan…They all represent the best of what it is to be Irish.’
“By bringing Irish neutrality’s coffin to the conference hall door we wanted to raise the real issues of violence that Ireland is involved in and which the powers-that-be and the media prefer to ignore.”
For your information: Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah ‘worse than Hiroshima’
More information on the US military use of Shannon airport here at Shannonwatch