Category: Archive

Big Dublin demo says no to war

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

TDs, MEPs, church leaders, trade unionists, peace activists, artists, writers and singers were among those leading the protest.
On a bright, cold day, there was an almost carnival atmosphere as tens of thousands of families with homemade placards thronged the streets.
Before the rally, organizers had expected an attendance of about 20,000. But when it was over, they claimed the weekend’s anti-war protest was the biggest in the city since the anti-tax rally in 1979.
At one stage the whole of O’Connell Street was filled with people.
“The last time that happened was when Jack Charlton brought home the Irish soccer team from the World Cup in America in 1994,” a Garda spokesman said.
The last of the marchers were still leaving the Garden of Remembrance assembly point in Parnell Square an hour and a half after the march stepped off from that point
Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said the turnout had far exceeded the numbers expected and it showed the strength of feeling in the country.
“I’m thrilled. It’s beyond everybody’s expectations. I stand to be corrected, but I can’t remember any demonstration of this size in Dublin before,” he said.
Said Labor Party leader Pat Rabbitte: “These weren’t the professional protesters. This wasn’t the roundup of the usual suspects or the usual political leadership or whatever. This was comprised of a great diversity of ordinary people of all classes.”
A range of peace groups had organized the protest, which was supported by the Labor Party, the Greens, Sinn Fein and the Socialist Party. Lord Mayor Dermot Lacey was a leading participant.
The protestors marched across the Liffey, past the Kildare Street side of Leinster House and the Department of Foreign Affairs in St. Stephen’s Green and back to the Central Bank Plaza in Dame Street.
Rabbitte said the size of the demonstration showed the Irish government has greatly misjudged the depth of anti-war feeling in the country.

Majority against refueling
Meanwhile, according to a new poll, a majority of people disapprove of the government’s policy of allowing the U.S. military to transit troops through Shannon Airport on the way to the Persian Gulf.
Some 54 percent disapprove of the government’s current policy of allowing planes carrying soldiers and their weapons to refuel at the airport, the Irish Times/MRBI poll found.
The policy receives the approval of 36 percent, while 10 percent had no opinion.
Even if the UN Security Council passes a new resolution backing military action, 49 percent of people when asked said they would still disapprove, while 42 percent said they would approve under such circumstances.
If the U.S. were to take military action against Iraq without a UN mandate, the number who would disapprove of the airport’s use rose to 68 percent with 21 percent approving and 11 percent who did not know.
The poll shows that while men are more evenly divided on the issue, women’s disapproval was strong.
The current use of the airport was disapproved of by 61 percent of women, with 27 percent in favor and 12 percent having no opinion.
Politically, objections were strongest among Green voters at 79 percent followed by supporters of Independent TDs (61 percent), the PDs (59 percent), Labor (58 percent), Fine Gael (55 percent) and Sinn Fein (51 percent).
The strongest support for the policy was among Fianna Fail voters, with 49 percent in favor, 43 percent against and 7 percent having no opinion.
Controversy has surrounded the use of Shannon by both U.S. military planes and commercial aircraft carrying troops.
Anti-war activists claim that providing refueling facilities at the airport contravenes the country’s traditional policy of military neutrality.
Earlier this month the government deployed 120 troops to intensify security at Shannon after a series of attacks on aircraft by activists.
Six people are facing charges after a U.S. Navy 737 aircraft was attacked twice with hatchets and hammers.
The poll was conducted Feb. 10 and 11 among a national quota sample of 1,000 voters at 100 sampling points throughout all the Dail constituencies.

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