On the road
Our new flat was a perfect base and we had our first presentations coming up. We were offered a forum of the Irish Anti War movement and a shared stage with some of the Raytheon 9. The Raytheon 9 are nine activists who raided an arms manufacturer for eight hours and basically wrecked the place. More power to them. One of the leaders who will go on trial in a few weeks is Eamonn McCann who is an old Irish radical and campaigner. He has a reputation as a fiery speaker and he didn’t disappoint.
It was a full house in an expensive hotel and the audience was quite ultra left and passionate about disarmament.
I was the warm up act and was given minimal time to get a lot of people excited about cluster bombs. I felt like a boxer as my time started,,,,, now. I do this kind of job quite well and launched into a very high speed and aggressive presentation about the field problems of cluster bombs and the Irish governments role in working towards a ban. I knew I was getting across to them as I had people beginning to cry in the audience. This I always find encouraging and it fires me up to sting them out of their mediocrity and get involved to do something. They got told nothing but the reality of what it’s like in a cluster bomb affected place and I definitely spared them the most graphic of my pictures.
I finished and was followed by Susan telling them what they can do to get involved and about some events coming up which we invited them to. After her came Andy Story. He was from Afri, a local NGO and was an excellent speaker and spoke about the Lisbon treaty. This treaty is another EU equaliser that aims to commit European governments to spending a more equal amount on defence and other things. Of course this was the kind of thing that the audience would really oppose. He was very articulate and measured and knew his subject well and could argue the points. This is refreshing as I find many activists just babble with no real aim or understanding of the issues they claim to represent but are full of fire and venom with very little substance.
Eamonn McCann had now arrived and I was curious to see what this guy was really like. I googled him before I came and he has a long and colourful list of activism. He is a campaigner from Northern Ireland and has been at most of the violent past events from Bloody Sunday to the Battle of Bogside and numerous other scraps along the way. Small and wiry with a shaved head and in his 60’s he looked like an angry whippet who would go after any other dog no matter the size. He’s noted for oratory style and passion and I was keen to see a really good and articulate speaker take the floor.
He began slowly and thoughtfully and seemed preoccupied with other thoughts but after a few minutes he warmed up and the whole scene changed. A veritable torrent of words and gestures pounded the audience as his mind wove from point to point and a definite spark was in his eyes as his blood rose. Here was a man who relished the fight and would give no quarter to any government or arms manufacturer. He also seems a man who could take it as well as give it as if he is to be jailed for the activities at Raytheon then so be it.
The really interesting part of what he had to say was how they were to base their defence for the Raytheon trashing. They had no intention to fight the charges or plead not guilty, on the contrary, yes to all facts. What they were going to do was base their defence on the fact that it’s their legal obligation as civilians to step in and protect if life is threatened. As they were trashing a company who made arms and in particular, arms that killed many civilians in Lebanon then they were doing their civil and legal duty to wreck that company as they killed internationally. It’s a great argument and I hope he gets away with it. I do admire someone who will knowingly take on the state or big business in full knowledge that some serious consequences are before them.
The floor was opened for questions and it was all interesting, one man stood up and launched a fairly barbed attack at me. He took the greatest exception to me saying anything positive about the Irish government in relation to a treaty to ban cluster bombs. As far as he was concerned, all in government are two faced bastards and I was a bastard too for saying they could do any good. Fair enough, your point was made. I didn’t get the right of reply but Andy Story took up the point and answered it as well as it possibly could have been answered. Difficult partnerships are sometimes essential to gain our goals and if you don’t have these then you risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Eamonn answered a few more questions and made a few more pointed statements then the meeting broke up. The guy who had the attack on me came over as nice as you like and apologised as he said in a rather meek manner that the Irish government are no good. I said I heard him the first time and that we all have our own governments to fight.
If people are so paranoid and that they hate the government so much then they are more likely to fall into the hands of government than be a voice against them for then they are marginalised and then their words might be of no value. Pick your battles, work out how to win them then get some work done. Another thing is if you criticise the government for being bad and want them to change, then the moment that they do change and do move on one issue in a positive direction you can only complain more, wake up to your self!
On the walk back along the river we talked about the upcoming weeks and dodged the local drunks, not so easy something’s, and found out the thing we saw floating down the river the day before was a body in a bag. Interesting this place Dublin.