Report on anti-G8 demonstration in Belfast
Fri 21st Jun 2013
Thousands of people marched over the weekend to protest against the presence of the G8 in Northern Ireland.
The turn out was lower than expected due to the weeks of intimidation and scare mongering by the police and the political establishment who repeatedly claimed that anarchists and dissident Republican groups would use the march as a cover for violence.
The march took place amidst a massive police operation with hundreds of armed units lining the route of the demonstration. Many of the police were armed with full automatic rifles.
The majority of protesters were members of the trade union movement in Northern Ireland and various local political groups. The NIPSA, Unison and Mandate trade unions were especially well represented.
Other groups included the Communist Party of Ireland, the Connolly Youth Movement, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Trade Union Friends of Palestine, the Cuba Support Group, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and Amnesty International.
There was also an international presence on the march with members of the Communist Party of Turkey - Marxist Leninist (TKP-ML) marching alongside representatives of the Communist parties of Greece and Portugal.
Many of the Guy Fawkes masks usually associated with the Anonymous collective were also visible in the crowd.
There were hundreds of banners and placards representing dozens of progressive political agendas from the anti-fracking campaign to supporters of Republican prisoners in British jails.
Many people were there to demand the closure of Guantanamo Bay and to call for the release of whistleblower Bradley Manning and the punk-rock group Pussy Riot.
The march ended with a rally at Belfast City Hall were speakers from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), its youth organisation (ICTU Youth), the anti-fracking campaign and Amnesty International addressed the demonstrators.
The speakers told the crowd that there was a viable and practical alternative to the austerity being imposed on the people of Europe by the Troika of the E.U., the European Central Bank and the I.M.F.
There were calls for legislating greater taxation on the wealthy and corporations, public ownership of the financial system, an end to Western intervention and occupation in the Middle East and greater investment in public healthcare and education.
There were also expressions of solidarity with the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Palestine, Turkey and Russia.
The ICTU Youth speaker made the point that the struggle of the workers and oppressed peoples had defeated Fascism, overthrown empires and achieved huge social gains over the past hundred years and that they would not allow those victories to be undone.
The G8 demonstration coincided with a small protest by members of Belfast’s Loyalist community who object to the decision by Belfast City Council to only fly the Union Flag on designated days.
The Loyalist protesters engaged in various provocations including flying an Israeli flag and one Loyalist even shouted “kill all Arabs”.
The Loyalist protest was dwarfed by the much larger anti-G8 demonstration.