Celebrating 21 years of Anti-Fascist Action in Ireland

Date:

On the weekend of 5th-7th October, Anti-Fascist Action Ireland held a series of events to celebrate their twenty one years in existence. The organisation was founded in 1991 with the aim of fighting fascism both physically and ideologically as and where the need arises.

The events, planned months in advance, looked to unite anti-fascists from across Europe in a way that has not been possible in recent years. For while fascism is on the rise across Europe, with Greece seeing the emergence of the Golden Dawn Party, Italy seeing an alarming increase in support for the autonomous nationalist Casa Pound and Eastern Europe experiencing the continued growth of neo-Nazi groups, Ireland has remained relatively threat free, due in part to the hard work of AFA.

Friday’s events saw over one hundred activists gather in the Teachers’ Club for the launch of a one hundred page book called “Undertones: Anti-fascism and the far-right in Ireland 1945-2012.” The book, while examining the history of the far-right in Ireland, also looks at the militant anti-fascist resistance that has al- ways accompanied it. The evening was also a good op- portunity to network with some of the foreign activists who had made their way to Ireland for the weekend’s events as somewhere in the region of one hundred and twenty travelled.

Saturday started off with another meeting in the Teachers’ Club, this time a forum on the future of militant anti-fascism across Europe. Speakers from Ireland, England, Italy, France, Poland, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic took to the stage to speak about their experiences at home, and where they see themselves in the future. Over one hundred and sixty activists packed the hall for two hours of very useful discussion. The debates carried over to the Grand Social on Liffey Street that night where a sold out gig of two hundred and eighty people witnessed five bands and six DJs play for over seven hours under the banner of anti-fascism.

Sunday morning, and again a large crowd; After meeting at the Jim Larkin statue on O’Connell Street, four groups of forty people left for a walking tour of Dublin, culminating in the unveiling of a plaque on Connolly Books in Temple Bar dedicated to those Irish volunteers who made their way to Spain in 1936-1939 to fight Franco and the rising fascist tide. Speakers included Manus O’Riordain, whose father Michael spoke on platforms with AFA Ireland in the past, Tom Redmond from the Communist Party and Councillor Cieran Perry.

Following on from this, the crowds made their way to Smithfield where a mural was unveiled on the side of the Cobblestone pub in memory of Bob Doyle, deceased veteran of the Spanish Civil War who grew up on North King Street nearby. Afterwards, the growing crowd retired into the Cobblestone where they were treated to an evening of trad music from Ronán Ó’Snodaigh of Kila, Lynched and Troika.

An AFA statement on the weekend read: “Without a doubt, this was one of the most important anti-Fascist events this country has ever seen. Hundreds of people from all over Europe and the island joined us. Ireland benefits hugely from having such a small and fragmented neo-Nazi and far-right movement. The failure of these kinds of groups to develop into real threats in Ireland is not just down to political and historical reasons but also the constant, vigilant work of anti- Fascists. This weekend was a celebration of that and an acknowledgement of the struggles of past generations.”


This article appeared in
Workers Solidarity 128 - Nov/Dec 2012

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