Program for the fifth Grassroots Gathering (Dublin)

This is the program for the fifth Grassroots Gathering

Grassroots Gathering Five

Teacher’s Club, Dublin, Friday 27th June – Sunday 29th June

What this fifth Gathering is for:
Create a bridge for non-hierarchical & direct action activism between the mobilisations against the war on Iraq this spring and the mobilisations against the World Economic Forum this autumn

Encourage networking between different movements, with workshops that encourage people to mix between different movements, rather than primarily "issue-" based themes

Develop diversity within the movement by inviting participants from different movements, and particularly inviting specific people to give 5-minute intros to the individual workshops

Things to bring:

A bit of energy, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, friendliness and interest in other people if you can manage it!

Info about your own group, specially stuff to help make links with other groups and activists – most of the people at the Gathering will not be anonymous “punters” but busy activists.

If you want to take part in the 5-a-side soccer tournament (all day Saturday + Sunday morning), try to bring a bike! (We’ll try to have bikes available too.)

If you want to do the Indian Head Massage workshop (Saturday afternoon), bring a towel to cover the top of your body (unless it’s something you’d like to share with the rest of us!)

Donations! The Gathering has no money at all, and it’s costing about €750 - €1000 to run it!!

Friday afternoon / evening
[6 pm - Team meeting]

7 pm - Welcomes, sorting out floor space for visitors

8 pm - Introductions:
What is the Grassroots Gathering?

Groups introduce themselves

15-min. training session for facilitators (run by Aileen O’Carroll, Laurence Cox)


- Graciela Monteagudo, Argentinian community artist and human rights activist

Graciela will give a unique puppet show portraying how workers have gone from regular jobs to picking up cardboard from the streets of Buenos Aires every night to sell it for a few pence. The show - which has already toured the two Americas with great success - tells of the local social movements that have grown to create a near insurrection. Over the last 2 years an incredible wave of social protest and action has engulfed Argentina. In the midst of the well-publicised economic collapse there have been massive street protests, numerous co- ordinated road blockades, over 200 factories under workers control, more than three hundred coordinated microenterprise cooperatives organized by unemployed women and men, countless neighborhood associations formed, and many other autonomous popular initiatives.

(for more information on whats happening in Argentina check this article out)

10.30 pm – Bodkin’s pub, Bolton Street

Saturday morning

[9.30 pm – Team meeting]

10 am - Welcomes and opening circle: "who are we and why are we here?"

11 am - Coffee!


(1) Networking between movements: how are we doing?
(networking workshop)

Over the last few years there's been an explosion in networking between social movements in Ireland and globally. A lot of this has been part of the development of the global anti-capitalist movement, and more recently the anti-war movement, but similar networks have been developing on an Irish or local level around issues like community control of development, waste management issues or supporting volunteering. This workshop starts from what's happened in different movement "sectors" and why, and will hopefully discuss what works and what doesn't, and help us think about where the process is going and what we want to do to help.

Giancarlo, Community Exchange
Barry Finnegan, Irish Social Forum
Steve McConville, Belfast social movements
Paul Moloney, Independent Socialist Network

(2) Opposing the war: future anti-war activity
(networking workshop)

The Grassroots Network Against War (GNAW) developed out of the third Grassroots Gathering in Belfast as a radical forum for non- hierarchical opposition to war. Despite many difficulties, the GNAW put the issue of large- scale direct action on the public agenda in Ireland, perhaps for the first time since Carnsore Point. This workshop will be organised by GNAW and the campaign to boycott TOPoil to discuss the current situation and future directions for anti-war activism in Ireland.

Anto from GNAW
Speaker from “Boycott TOPoil” campaign

(3) Is social partnership going anywhere?
(discussion / debate workshop)

Since the mid-1980s, "social partnership" has been an increasingly important strategy for the Irish state, progressively developing to include trade unions, community groups, the environment and development sectors. Often this has been something which (some) movement groups have actively pushed for, but what we got has not always turned out to be what we meant. This workshop looks at how partnerhip is working (or not working) in different sectors, and aims for a debate on whether there is (still?) anything to be gained from being involved in it.

Des Derwin, SIPTU
Speaker from Pavee Point
Possible speaker from Community Platform

(4) Whose progress? Progress for who? Nature, technology, humans
(discussion / debate workshop)

Different social movements have different traditional views about technological and industrial development. Some activists think that new technologies will save us, some that ecological disaster is round the corner, some that industrial development is crucial to meet human needs. These are central issues in relation to the environment, but also in relation to "sustainable development" in the majority world. This workshop aims to debate the issues involved and see if our views are really all that incompatible.

Robert Allen, An Talamh Glas / BlueGreenEarth
Chekov Feeney (Workers Solidarity Movement)

* Videos (programme to be announced)
* Physical activities:
5-a-side football tournament by Robert Allen, An Talamh Glas
Games by Elinor, Traveller and Settled Solidarity

1 pm - Lunch!

Saturday afternoon / evening:


(5) Opposing neo-liberalism in Ireland
(networking workshop)

Neo-liberal economics, covered over by a package of social partnership, consultation and participation, has grown stronger and sharper in Ireland over the last five years. In areas as diverse as the trade unions, environmental campaigning, community activism and development work, activists have found themselves increasingly unhappy with the "partnership" that is offered and increasingly angry about the "big picture" of cuts, privatisation, deregulation and state "non- interference" as business interests reshape the world - and Ireland - to suit themselves. What do our different struggles look like? Are there ways we can work together more effectively? And do we stand a chance of winning?

Donagh from Gluaiseacht
Speaker from Campaign for Free Education
Dermot Sreenan, Campaign Against the Bin Charges

(6) Keeping going: dealing with defeat and burnout
(networking workshop)

All long-term activists have to deal with the experience of not winning, as well as cope with the risk of burnout when we invest heavily in urgent campaigns. How do we pick ourselves up and keep on going as individuals? How do we support other activists in hard times so defeat doesn't decimate our movements? This workshop is geared to sharing experiences, skills, problems and ideas between activists in different movements - both those of us who have survived and kept going, and those of us who are finding it hard to see any hope or find any enthusiasm for the next campaign.

Tracey from Shannon Peace Camp
Alan MacSimóin, Workers Solidarity Movement
Christian Volkmann, Glen of the Downs

(7) Direct action, the bins, the bombs, the boulders and the bunkers...
(action / skills workshop)

While the protests at Shannon have put "direct action" on the public agenda in Ireland, there is also a long-standing tradition of direct action in this country going back decades if not centuries. How is direct action working at the moment in our different movements? What are the success stories, and what are the difficulties we're facing? Are we developing effective ways of working, and how can we share those with other activists?

Liz Curry, Evian returnee & friends
Marianne from the Good Bus
James McBarron from Old Head of Kinsale Campaign

With input by activists from Reclaim the Streets, Grassroots Network Against War, Campaign Against the Bin Charges

(8) Putting the roots back into grassroots: building links to community groups.
(action / skills workshop)

Along with trade unions, community activism is probably the single biggest social movement in Ireland, and one which shares a lot of values (bottom-up organising, non-hierarchical structures, a focus on issues of power and injustice) with many other social movements. But the gap between community groups and other movements often seems particularly hard to bridge. This workshop brings together people with experience in the area to talk about what it is that divides us, how we can respect each other's differences, and what the possibilities are for developing communication and even cooperation on shared issues.

Margaret Gillan, Community Media Network
Siobhán O’Donoghue, Community Workers Co- operative

(9) Space is the place: creating, sustaining and defending autonomous spaces
(action / skills workshop)

Controlling our own space is a crucial practical aspect of being able to organise, support each other, generate new projects and simply explore the experience of freedom. Right now, a number of free spaces on the island are under threat for one reason or another, while other projects are underway to create new ones. This workshop brings together people involved or interested in the area to talk about the practicalities as well as the broader issues.

Fergal Leddy, Spacecraft
Cathie Clinton, The Palace

With input by activists from Giros [Belfast], Cork Autonomous Zone, Garden of Delight [Dublin], Arran Quay squat

* Physical activities:

5-a-side football tournament by Robert Allen, An Talamh Glas

Yoga by Caitríona

4 pm - Coffee!


(10) Defending / developing diversity
(networking workshop)

While the "opening up" of Irish society has created new spaces for diversity and difference, it has also highlighted continuing forms of racism, bigotry and intolerance, and given right-wing groups new possibilities of organising. At the same time, the new anti- capitalist and anti-war movements remain considerably less diverse than their potential. This workshop focusses on how we can defend and develop diversity within Irish society as well as within our own movements.

Katie Hourigan, Multiple Sclerosis Society
Rosanna Flynn, Residents Against Racism

(11) Preparing for the World Economic Forum
(action / skills workshop)

The World Economic Forum is coming to Ireland for October 20th to 21st. The protests will be really important for people who have been radicalised / got active during the anti-war campaign, as well as probably the first time that "anti- globalisation" activism in Ireland will have a chance of becoming a large-scale and popular movement. Based on the experience of e.g. the protests at Shannon, we can expect that many NGOs will restrict their activities to lobbying, while the traditional left will focus on marches and listening to speakers. What are we going to do ourselves?

Barry Finnegan, Irish Social Forum
Liz Curry, Evian returnee & friends
Padraic, Gluaiseacht
Speaker from the Good Bus

(12) Creating our own media
(action / skills workshop)

Part of building movements that work is finding ways of communicating: building our own media, but also using the dominant media when we have to. This workshop brings together people with long experience in building alternative media, people who want to know how they can take effective action to build movement "infrastructure" and people interested in how to work with the mainstream media for our own purposes.

Sole, NearFM
Alan Toner, alternative media forum
Speaker from Indymedia
Chekov Feeney, Workers Solidarity Movement, Grassroots Network Against War, Reclaim the Streets

(13) How should we make decisions? Theory and practice of grassroots organisation
(discussion / debate workshop)

Different traditions of decision-making - particularly the contrast between the traditional democratic forms created by the early workers' movement and the consensus decision- making styles which have spread with the global anti-capitalist movement - are proposed within the movement in Ireland, and at times (as at the last Grassroots Gathering) have been a source of real contention. This links to the broader issue of the reality of grassroots ways of working: "tyranny of structurelessness", decision-making by the handful of genuinely active people, low levels of enthusiasm for meetings and discussions as against action and "fun"... Is it true that "freedom is an endless meeting"? Are our movements actually managing to be as democratic and non-hierarchical as we want? And if not, what can we do to improve things?

Fergal, Grassroots Network Against War
Claudia, Giro’s
Laurence Cox, ex-Green Party

(14) Who pays for the environment?
(Discussion / debate workshop)

The issue of waste management - dumps and incinerators, bin and water charges - has given rise to some major movements in recent years, mobilising local communities around environmental issues. If the Minister goes ahead with imposing incinerators around the country, there may be a real wave of opposition to the proposal. At times (as with opposition to dumps and incinerators) social movements have found themselves working together; at other times (such as bin and water charges) the issues have been a source of real tension. Underlying much of the conflict is the question "who should pay?"

Michael Murray, researcher on incineration and democracy
Dermot Sreenan, Campaign Against Bin Charges

* Videos (programme to be announced)

* Physical activities:

5-a-side football tournament by Robert Allen, An Talamh Glas

Indian Head Massage workshop by Cathie Clinton, Food Not Bombs

6 pm - Coffee!


- Neka Jara, Anibal Veron Co-ordination of unemployed workers (Piqueteros movement)

Neka is coming to share her experience of the vast movement of occupations and grass-roots organising and resistance that has swept Argentina. Over the last 2 years an incredible wave of social protest and action has engulfed Argentina. In the midst of the well-publicised economic collapse there have been massive street protests, numerous co-ordinated road blockades, over 200 factories under workers control, more than three hundred coordinated microenterprise cooperatives organized by unemployed women and men, countless neighborhood associations formed, and many other autonomous popular initiatives. Yet, little is heard about this in this country. This event is part of the Argentina Autonomista Project tour, bringing news of the struggle in Argentina to Britain and Ireland, and aiming to make connections with people struggling for social justice here.


Benefit (€5 in) for the Grassroots Gathering and Anarchist Prisoner Support
The Gingerman, Fenian St. (near Westland Row)
DJs: Dr Groove, Krossphader, DJ Oi!
Punk, eclectic, ska, reggae, mind-blowing mus

Sunday morning
11 am - Wakeup events!

* Oral history walking tour – “the Monto”(NB meet at the Centra shop opposite Connolly Station)

- Terry Fagan, North Inner City Folklore Project

The Monto (roughly the area between Talbot Street, N. Strand Road, Gardiner St. and Seán McDermott St.) is the old red light area of Dublin. Terry Fagan, who does the tour, is a local community activist who has been collecting people’s memories in the area for the last 20 years. The tour covers 18th century planning corruption, 19th century brothels, the Dublin Lockout, 1920s gunfights between the IRA and Special Branch agents, how the Legion of Mary closed the Monto, and the drugs issue from the 1980s to the present. It celebrates the resistance, solidarity and survival of the people of the Monto – saints and sinners alike.

* The history and trees of Phoenix Park (NB meet at main gate, Phoenix Park on Cunningham Rd.)

- Fergal Leddy, Spacecraft

* Videos (programme to be announced)

* Physical activities:

5-a-side football tournament by Robert Allen, An Talamh Glas : the final!

Sunday afternoon
12.30 pm - Lunch


(15) Report back from Evian protests
(networking workshop)

Earlier this month activists travelled over from Ireland to take part in the protests against the G8 (group of 8 most economically powerful nations) summit in Evian. In this workshop participants will be discussing what happened at the protests and what we can learn for future actions.

Team from the Good Bus

(16) Preventing and coping with burnout: co- counselling for activists
(action / skills workshop)

Burnout and all its manifestations are issues that most if not all activists will face at one point or another. The challenge of bringing about change on a global scale can have huge costs for individuals: traumatic experiences of repression, the impact of encountering poverty, war and ecological destruction, working under pressure, trying to sustain groups…. This workshop offers an introduction to practical skills in preventing and coping with burnout.

Elinor from Traveller And Settled Solidarity

(17) FEICed off? Actions for ethical investment
(action / skills workshop)

Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign [FEIC] are involved with campaigning on ethical and unethical investment, particularly in relation to arms company Raytheon. In this workshop they will be discussing some of the actions they have taken and encouraging other activists to share their own stories. The workshop includes a slideshow presented on “Jan’s Contraption”, a projector made from reused materials.

Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign

(18) Criminalisation and prisoner support
(action / skills workshop)

After the experience of Reclaim the Streets and direct action against the war, grass-roots activists in Ireland have been facing a rising tide of police repression: the criminalisation of the right to protest and the right to dissent from the New World Order. This workshop looks at the issues involved and discusses the practicalities of prisoner support.

Swedish Autonomist.
Johnny X, Anarchist Prisoner Support

(19) What kind of world do we need?
(discussion / debate workshop)

The times are (hopefully!) long gone when socialist, feminist and ecological visions of the future were seen as opposites by different social movements. Anarcha-feminism, social ecology, eco-feminism, eco-socialism and many different approaches have tried to bridge the gaps over the last quarter-century. At the same time, there are still many differences between activists' visions of the future, and we don't talk as much to each other about what we want as we might if we thought we were genuinely working together. This workshop looks at the kind of world we need, the kinds of worlds we are fighting for in our different movements, and asks if our visions can work together or not.

Andrew Flood, Workers Solidarity Movement
Speaker from Gluaiseacht
Laurence Cox, Grassroots Gathering

* Videos (programme to be announced)

* Physical activities:

Poi workshop
3 pm – Coffee! [Team meeting]

3.30 pm - PLENARY SESSION: Preparing for the World Economic Forum.

Report back from WEF workshop

Barry Finnegan, Irish Social Forum
Andrew Flood, Workers Solidarity Movement
Karen Elliot, Reclaim the Streets.

PLENARY SESSION: What next for the Grassroots Gathering? & Getting beyond “the usual suspects”.
Laurence Cox, Grassroots Gathering.

6.30 pm - Ends