After our last march (Part 2) through Belfast
city centre various aspects of our Movement continued
with many various forms of anti war direct actions
and mobilisations, as we had still a large and
vibrant movement. Then during the summer of that
year the continued rise of brutal local attacks
on the minority ethnic community were becoming
ever more overt, and with that I had went along
to an initial meeting called in relation to such
And it was there that I had then decided to concentrate
my attentions and was happy to do so as the BAWM
was very much in a healthy and vibrant state when
I had moved across, and we had built up much respect
across the activist world from 2002 to then.
Yet as stated, when I had moved across and had
moved to setting up the Anti Racism Network (ARN)
that was also to eventually become a movement,
only one other SWP member came with me in attempting
to establish such an anti racism campaign at the
time. The rest of the Belfast SWP remained in
the BAWM and other such campaigns.
By now I had decided that I would concentrate
my activism on the ARN as I had believed it essential
that, while of course showing solidarity on issues
abroad, people HERE were also being attacked,
beaten, brutalised and eventually murdered because
of the colour of their skin and difference of
Because of that we in Belfast where to become
known as the 'Race hate Capital of Europe' and
a stand therefore needed to be taken against those
who were attacking the minority ethnic communities
For me I had always thought it essential that
while dealing with such issues and lending such
solidarity to far away lands the crux of such
stands must nevertheless be where one is. I had
found though that such Revolutionary Socialist
organisations - and there are a few here - do
not visibly stand on such issues locally, or if
they do, it is only through polemics. I can say
though without fear of contradiction that I was
the only one who year in and year out within ALL
such local organisations had visibly stood, mobilised
or provided defence for the most vulnerable on
such matters locally while doing similar on far
Solely confronting 'far off' Imperialism can be
'sexy.' Confronting it at home is a different
matter all together, and I believe because of
that, many such organisations actually make excuses
or shirk from it.
From my earliest of youth I had been on demos
and rallies against matters at home. In recent
times I came across a picture of myself in the
funeral procession of Bobby Sands in 1981 as a
ten year old kid. I had went on the procession
against some relatives wishes who feared that
I could be caught up if any trouble kicked off.
Yet even at that tender age, like so many others,
I was well versed in trouble and death. Whatever
one thought about such rallies and marches, I
have throughout life stood with those who were
taking on Imperialism, at times face to face.
When a more mature political activist I took also
to stating what I had believed to be the shortcomings
of anti-imperialist organisations.
I never saw standing on the sidelines as any option
other than the easy one. I stood with those (from
many political hues) who stood against the brutality
of the state while at the same time raising and
condemning any such senseless brutality coming
from them. I had spoken out against the brutal
murder of Andy Kearney by the IRA, a person I
had known and sat around tables with in youth.
And so while l may not have agreed with the tactics
they espoused (and had written and stated that)
I had nevertheless been there and offered solidarity
and such, when the sheer brutality of the state
rained down on many innocents.
Much of the far left instead gave mere polemics,
espoused economism or stayed away from the local
and concentrated on the 'far off.' To me that
makes such 'Revolutionary Socialist Organisations'
mere cardboard cut -outs.
On that point on taking a stand locally, I had
raised this issue before. When the once termed
Belfast SWP (BSWP) was kicking off in Belfast
it was Globalise Resistance (GR) that was launched,
then when I had left it was then Global Justice
(GJ) that they had tried to set up (but flopped).
in between that time (GR to GJ, and in that period
I was involved at the forefront in the Belfast
SWP) there where those who had argued for and
were at the forefront of pushing and lending solidarity
with and to others on such local issues. This
from supporting political prisoners from many
political hues, or regularly marching, protesting
and picketing against police brutality and plastic
bullets, through to standing against sectarianism,
racism, collusion and state cover-up in murders,
protesting for demilitarisation, blockading orange
marches through nationalist areas, active interface
area solidarity, and much more
And in doing so even in those recent times I have
received numerous threats, baton charges, snatch
squads come after me, through to witnessing comrades'
skulls being cracked open and seeing yet again
others being shot by the state, and much more.
And although this at times resulted in extensive
surveillance on myself, it was nevertheless, I
believed, and believe, even more important to
stand up to it on my own doorstep (however more
difficult and more intense that is) while of course
both lending solidarity and mobilising on similar
issues in far off lands.
Yet in the last two years (for the SWP - since
I have left) it has all went back to the 'far
away Socialism' of far off wars and repression
and Globalise this and Global that, and any mobilisation
that is to take place was not onto Belfast streets
but to mobilise against War and Poverty elsewhere.
While this in itself is not wrong the fact is
that virtually all such calls now from the SWP
in Belfast is for that 'far away' Socialism to
address the Global issue or to march on Global
Since leaving the SWP, I have noticed that there
no longer is any of that core issue of local and
Coal face solidarity on such essential issues
which was once at the Corner stone of the BSWP.Many
they can take what they want out of that.
8 or so weeks of my moving across to establish
the ARN, the BAWM had in effect collapsed. I had
written various correspondences at this time then
to the SWP Political Committee outlining both
this and other concerns that had become more overt.
although I did not 'officially' leave the SWP
until the following year I had in effect started
the 'real' drift away 18 months before that. While
starting to be involved heavily in the ARN I had
at that time pushed and argued for the still BAWM
to keep going as it had collapsed
Note below - Section of correspondence in relation
to the BAWM that I had sent to the SWP Political
leadership at the time.
Facts - no one in Belfast was dealing with BAWM,
no one in Belfast even knew who was dealing with
it apart from one comrade from Derry! So with
no-one doing anything, no-one turning up for anything,
no one knowing who was dealing with it and nothing
being done (and with it in effect therefore having
collapsed) I then argued for some one in Belfast
to take it on. One comrade was to contact another
about this but to no avail..
a meeting was called for that week and I both
phoned people and also phoned one comrade twice
to see how it was going and even offering some
initial help for that first meeting (to revitalise
it). It was from that decision - that began the
concrete organisation and momentum that enabled
events including the gig to be 'properly' organised.
With that (revitalisation) I know that others
are 'now' helping out with various comrades including
myself contacting our contacts to inform them
of events. This I had done widely within my networks
and contacts (as had others) for the 300 plus
march in Belfast and again as I and others did
for the Tim Collins visit.
And so due to my interventions the BAWM was revitalised
briefly, but as already stated in my diary I had
decided that I was not going back to then jumping
between SWP branches and campaigns to resuscitate
them as I had did in the past, as this was just
Therefore while the ARN starting mobilising thousands
and many different actions as recorded elsewhere
(in the first Anti Racism Movement ever seen in
the North) - the BAWM in effect again collapsed.
This time though I had made up my own mind where
I was to concentrate my priorities on - and that
was the ARN.
A similar situation had occurred when I had eventually
stood down from the ARN steering group (but continued
within my local West Belfast ARN branch). I had
played a key role in urging ARN activists at the
time to go to the MPH rally during the period
of my standing down (I was Chair of MPH NI also)
and it was I who had also set up the TV, radio
and newspapers to travel with the ARN etc to the
Yet when I had stood down from the ARN steering
group, (the ARN Movement created was still at
this time mobilising and highly respected and
followed across the globe) it was though in effect
once again to be the end of the at times historic
Yet (and again as with my concentration on the
ARN from the BAWM) similar thousands were in the
process of being mobilised, this time through
the MPH campaign that was also to become yet another
local Movement, again mobilising thousands of
Catholic, Protestant and dissenter onto the streets
NOTE - The final part of the History of the Anti
Racism Movement Part 3 (Part one and two on the
Blanket) will be written shortly with a link to
the TV documentary that records the first ever
such Anti Racism march and rally through Belfast
City centre streets (which had also seen a large
West Belfast feeder march from the local working
As a key organiser in the West Belfast Anti War
marches, I lead them off down the Falls Road in
West Belfast to the city Centre. Previous to that
I had also helped lead the Falls and Shankill
Road march through West Belfast's streets.
Then the History of the Make Poverty History Movement
in the North shall be recorded.
In all of these ventures I was a founding member,
spokesperson and chair and was and interviewed
and photographed on behalf of those movements
for news agencies throughout the world.
In stating this, I wish to underline my bird's
eye view of developments which had shown me a
number to things. Firstly the undemocratic actions
of some in the SWP leadership and the fantasy
and formula politics (not based on reality), which
had been another key reason for my leaving.
The fact was (in relation to my leaving the BSWP,
who where at the forefront of the Anti War Movement)
that I was always told of the need for such a
far left Vanguard party to bring about such campaigns
and Movements. Yet as shown and in real terms
nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed
in my earliest of activist days (as recorded elsewhere)
if I had moved on from one SWP branch to another
it would have seen the branch I had left, in most
cases simply collapsing after my departure. Similar
in the Movements, as soon as I had moved on (leaving
the rest of the Vanguard party there at the forefront)
such would also collapse or no longer mobilise
or find little support, again on my departure.
This is not to blow my own trumpet but is intended
to underline my belief if their survival was dependant
on one person, as campaigns of movements they
had little serious substance to them.
It further shows that such a Vanguard is not needed;
individuals can and do play a vital role in ensuring
such campaigns and Movements happen, or continue
Indeed to cement this point I can state that since
leaving such a Vanguard party, I have as before
continued to be at the forefront with other individuals
and groups in both mobilising still thousands
and winning historic working class victories in
more new Movements and campaigns. This while that
particular vanguard party having organised absolutely
nothing new, by way of campaigns and movements,
onto Belfast streets over all that time.
This simply hammers the lie that a far left Vanguard
party is needed to create, mobilise and sustain
campaigns and Movements. I have shown that it
is not needed, and indeed, as many have told me,
such a far left Vanguard Party had actually held
And so, Libertarians, Anarchists and concerned
individuals, have, do, and will play an essential
role in initiating, driving forward and ensuring
that such vital campaigns and movements continue.
Therefore a long, long time later after the collapse
of the BAWM and when I had moved on from the SWP
the then SWP organiser sought to then kick start
the BAWM as there was little else on offer for
them and they of course would have the BAWM name,
as with the ARN which had in those early days
so over time the BAWM (SWP in effect then) started
holding meetings with key speakers provided by
London SWP. They could not mobilise, however,
as activists were aware of what was going on in
relation to lack of democracy etc.
the only activists within that year or so to actually
mobilise in pickets, rallies etc onto Belfast's
streets against war and in solidarity with others
was Anti War Ireland (AWI), Socialist Youth and
the Peace People.
Then as the BAWM ticked along holding such meetings
while other organisations where mobilising onto
Belfast's streets, the attacks on Lebanon happened
(read link above, 'from Belfast to the Middle
East) and with that new anti war mobilisations
needed to come to the fore.
Which brings me up to date to the recent mobilisations.
Firstly a protest at the BBC that was in effect
a Sinn Fein (SF) and an Ireland Palestine Solidarity
Campaign (IPSC) one. But with that the SWP, although
having had not and not been able to mobilise anything,
under the BAWM name or any name in years onto
Belfast's streets offered to 'support' the protest.
Then the second mobilisation was to be a march
and rally. In between that time I had given, despite
my disagreement with them, visible support to
the BAWM's (5 SWP members) stall. The issue I
felt was more important than any disagreement.
Yet once again though and towards the end of the
mobilisations (and this was the final straw,)
I had asked (again) of how activists get involved
in the renewed BAWM meetings. To which I was told
(by a key BAWM/SWP spokesperson) that the meetings
were 'closed meetings and they are only for people
And so with that they had sought to close the
doors to those who they thought may be a disturbing
influence to their undemocratic manoeuvrings and
sought instead to embrace those who they believed
would offer little words against them.
Indeed now but a front, it now sees the death
of the now once termed Belfast Anti War Movement
whose name and activism had once went out on TV
and radio screens and stations across the globe.
I can understand in the immediacy of the times
that things are not done as well as they should
be, but when organisations deliberately move to
exclude genuine activists for their own sectarian
interests then that is another thing all together.
one cannot effect change within such if excluded
from that. And although things can be moved from
the outside on occasion, such things also need
the dynamic from within.
genuine activists will find no other alternative
but to move on, while of course offering support
for anti war calls. For myself I had asked on
several occasions to be involved but I had been
ignored. Despite that I had still given and offered
support. But one can only take so much, then one
has to decide how to move things forward where
all can have a say within democratic structures
And therefore for me I have moved to become involved
in Anti War Ireland (AWI) an open, broad and democratic
organisation as was the BAWM of old. Indeed the
BAWM was like the once BSWP was, that is, once
respected and known Ireland over for its once
way of democratically reaching out and organising,
to the effect it (Belfast SWP) was recognised
as being completely different from any other branch
of the SWP at the time.
As for the BAWM, well it is now simply a front
for the SWP, and again with the 'influence from
afar', have now destroyed it by their actions
and desperation to get out of the wilderness after
years of not mobilising anything new onto Belfast
Yet despite that, the inspirational history of
our Movement, the Belfast Anti-War Movement (as
with the Anti-Racism Movement as with the Anti-Poverty
Movement) is and will continue to be written and
The Belfast Anti-War Movement was a Movement (from
the international interviews I had done and contacts
made) that had inspired and was both watched and
listened to by many the globe over. Now if people
so wish we can begin to look back at it and learn
the lessons as we move forward anew against the
continual barbarity and brutality of such war.
And so the recent mobilisations I had raised led
to the first march and rally take place In Central
Belfast in ages. Between the various recent mobilisations
in Belfast around 1000 people attended.
The first march and rally witnessed in Belfast
in recent times had seen the majority of those
who attended come from West Belfast (and someone
called it a West Belfast march) under the banners
of the IPSC, West Belfast ARN, SF, IRSP etc .
This was an important initiative and building
block, with many activists working visibly and
otherwise to build it as an initial step - and
was supported by most of the left organisations
and groups in Belfast.
For myself after having led of the march (as a
member of Organise!) with key members of the Belfast
branch of the IPSC (and the IPSC banner) I had
spoken briefly at the end, after the other two
speakers from the IPSC. I had stated within my
short speech that all such campaigns, actions
and tactics should be supported whatever differences
in tactics etc we have.
On that matter looking back a few years ago -
although the Dublin (Irish) Anti War Movement
by and large was about march after march around
Dublin - the BAWM had seen sit downs, lock downs,
mass mobilisations, road blocks, walkouts, occupations
and much more. It embraced and became embedded
within the local Movement as there were many understandings
within the Movement.
This is a lesson that such other local Anti War
Movements, like the IAWM should learn from and
take example from.
Another important point raised in relation to
this march and rally came from an online debate
I had with an activist who stated, in part.
not have an Anti-War movement that will be open
to all in Belfast? Davy Carlin and others don't
seem to care that only people from West Belfast
came. If you restrict yourself to this your
campaign will fail. Trocaire ( I was both calling
for and working hard to build the Trocaire rally
which was to be the next one) is a wing of the
Catholic Church. They offer nothing progressive
for the people of Lebanon. They call for a "just
peace" in middle-east. I wonder what the
RC view of "just" is? IPSC do good
work. But they also have wrong politics. They
make a call for boycott of Israeli Trades Unions.
According to them the Israeli Working Class
are to blame for Lebanese massacres. Then you
have Sinn Fein and IRSP. Both base themselves
on Communal Politics.
To which I replied:
call to mobilise was open to all, those who
turned up is but a statement of fact - and for
many not surprising, given the history of many
in such working class communities who have been
and are at the forefront of standing and marching
in solidarity with oppressed people the world
the 'once BAWM of old (and it was I who had provided
it with the name 'BAWM- similar as I had done
with the ARN name -who also were there) originally
started of with a similar march with most 'activists
coming from West Belfast (in 2002), that is not
sectarian but as stated simply a statement of
fact - and not surprising.
it must be said that at that time key and prominent
working class Protestant community workers and
activists from the Shankill and East Belfast had
also marched on that first march - and it was
I (individually) who had reached out the hand
to seek their involvement at the time
the Protestant working class have been involved
in many 'such initiatives in recent years although
not to the extent of those from Nationalist and
Republican communities - indeed - much can be
read of such if you so wish within the various
links given within attached article
for the other points you make well you obviously
have a position - as do many, including myself,
but presently I believe that all who want to end
the continual slaughter of human life and who
are prepared to mobilise, raise awareness, and
protest about it, should be supported.
proletarian revolution, the planning of new a
socialist economy in the Middle East or all the
disagreements you have with everyone else who
are doing something - well, they can of course
be discussed in the process of mobilisation and
solidarity - if you so choose.
the meantime highlight the issue, and lend solidarity
to those who at least are prepared to do something
And with that the second rally was being planned
and organised by Trocaire.
For oneself I have always advocated standing with
those who stand against that what you were also
standing against, while arguing and debating with
those that might be convinced within that how
to seek real change. And so I had worked in the
background at this time to attempt to bring about
a move from the West Belfast march and the Left,
to a march that could begin to bring the representation
of the local Movement together onto the streets.
This while knowing that the momentum created may
see the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)
taking an interest (and be moved to also react).
And so this happened, that is, that the ICTU was
again moved to calls as the momentum was being
worked both visible and otherwise for the Trocaire
rally. Indeed it was first called as a StWc march
and rally but eventually came under the banner
of ICTU. That mattered little, as the goal had
been achieved, that was, to getting ICTU to call
Indeed a Trocaire rally, it nevertheless though
had seen the representation of the local movement
onto the streets of Belfast not seen in a long
time on the issue of such War.
As recorded at the time;
hundred attended the Trocaire Rally in Belfast
today with representation across the Movement
in attendance and lending support.
of the key NGO organisations and their representatives
from the MPH - CGAP, Northern Coalition were
there. Politicians including Gerry Adams (SF),
Carmel Hanna (SDLP) David Ervine (PUP), the
Mayor of Belfast etc, had stood shoulder to
shoulder with key trade unionists as well as
banners and placards ranging from some of the
largest trades unions NIPSA to UNISON, through
to Reps of the Belfast Trade Union Council.
banners from the SDLP through to the Workers
party joined activists and supporters of Organise!
through to the SP and SWP. Key activists from
the IPSC, ARN, the Chinese Welfare Society and
Belfast Islamic Centre were joined with banners
from Amnesty International through to Trocaire,
local key cross community workers and activists
joined reps from student bodies and student
political groups. The Belfast Anti War Movement
and various other solidarity campaigns where
joined by church groups and local workers who
had come out on their lunch break- this amongst
many other various others, individually, and
from various other organisations - whom had
friends now with such 'Collective Representation
of the Movement' having now been mobilised against
War for the first time in years, lets now get
into our Networks, our Colleges our Workplace
our unions and get our college friends, family
and activists onto the streets on Sat.
to Trocaire for this essential call and organisation
and to the grassroots activists who had also
worked in the background to mobilise such Collective
Momentum has now been Created let Belfast voices
again go out loud and clear, and again put our
feet on to the streets on Sat
you all there'
Therefore Trocaire and those who worked with them,
had delivered that representation not seen in
years onto Belfast's streets.
The next March and rally therefore was by the
ICTU, (now moved into calls to action). But before
that we had seen the occupation in Derry by the
Derry Anti War Coalition (DAWC). Again as with
Belfast, Derry had also embraced many tactics
and did not concentrate solely on march after
march, and in doing so like the once BAWM had
put its self, to an extent, on the Global Anti-War
activist scene. Whether or not one agrees with
such tactics it was and is important to show Solidarity
to what has become known as the Raytheon 9. For
myself I have both sent out calls for solidarity
and attended solidarity actions
Report of the DAWC actions:
the 9th August 2006, 9 protesters from the Derry
Anti-War Coalition (DAWC) broke into the Derry
offices of Raytheon, the world's third largest
They were protesting against the Israeli's use
of Raytheon weaponry and software in their attack
on Lebanon which has resulted in at least 1000
civilian deaths, a million injured, many more
displaced from their homes, and extensive destruction
of Lebanese infrastructure. This weaponry, according
to the World Policy Institute includes Stinger
man-portable air defence missiles, Standard
and Maverick Tactical Air-to-Ground missiles,
Sparrow and Sidewinder Tactical Air-to-Air missiles,
and PAC-2 air to surface missiles.
On occupying the building the protesters barricaded
themselves in and threw computers and paper
files out of the windows. About 50 police officers
surrounded the building and blocked all approaches
to it with the result that police operations
could not be observed. About twenty to thirty
people protested on the main road outside. Police
brought in trained police negotiators from Belfast,
then at 4 o'clock after 8 hours occupation the
police stormed the building and arrested the
They then came out in force and searched those
protesting on the main road claiming that the
protesters could be in possession of Raytheon
documents. Two refused to be searched stating
the reasons to be spurious and were arrested
and taken to Strand Road police station Derry.
It was clear threat the police did not want
to charge them formally. They did however try
to change the protesters minds by pretending
to take them to Coleraine police station some
twenty five miles away. Their bluff called they
returned to Strand Road where the charges were
dropped after performing the searches under
threat of force.
Appearing in court this morning the DAWC protesters,
wearing blue Guantanamo style "jump suits"
were charged with "Unlawful Assembly"
and "Aggravated Burglary".
Speaking from the building, Eamonn McCann said:
decommissioned a number of items of computer
equipment in a political protest against Raytheon....
Raytheon is a major supplier of high-tech equipment
to Israel and other western forces. We feel
that we've been successful in focussing the
public's attention on Raytheon's involvement
in the events in the Middle East.
The notion that the Derry plant is some benign
operation independent of the overall Raytheon
Arms Manufacturing is just nonsense'.
With that came the last such mobilisation (the
largest) which had seen primarily the trade unions
and the left there. For myself a day later I would
have to go into hospital and therefore would be
out of action for several weeks. Yet I was satisfied
that the momentum had once again been created
over the last few weeks of mobilisations. And
after the speeches were over and as I turned to
walk away, across the road sat police jeeps and
around the streets stood riot cops in their Black
On seeing that, I had decided to stay as I was
fully aware of the state and their actions against
anti War protesters and peace activists in Belfast.
Indeed this was the very spot a few years prior
that they had baton charged our Anti War Movement
outside Belfast City Hall. And so not only where
we aware as activists that momentum was being
created but the state was also aware to, as their
baton trigger police watched on and used their
surveillance once again on our Belfast peace rally.
For myself I have moved on from the BAWM and am
currently involved in Anti War Ireland and the
reasons as to why are given above. I will say
though that the prior history of the Belfast Anti-War
Movement is a proud one and Anti-War activists
will continue to stand firm against such slaughter
And for some, while standing against such, we
will not shirk from standing against such similar
brutality and injustice on our very home soil
as well. One cannot be a Revolutionary otherwise.