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Ireland Greets Bush - But With Protests
AROUND 20,000 people protested in Dublin on 25 June as Airforce One landed at Shannon Airport for an 18 hour EU-US summit. George W Bush is the first US president not to receive a warm welcome on an official state visit from even a small section of Irish people.
The main purpose of the visit was to try and mend the strained relations between the US and the major European powers.
Bush also hoped that images of him being welcomed throughout Ireland would boost his support amongst Irish-American voters in the run-up to the presidential elections in November. The size of the protests against him meant the visit was a spectacular failure.
The US Embassy has even lodged a formal complaint with state television company, RTE, for airing an interview which painted Bush in a bad light!
The Dublin demo was one of the biggest mid-week demonstrations in 20 years, in spite of the authorities trying to make sure that no one knew about it. A draconian by-law was enforced that banned any postering. There was also a ban on advertising for a gig organised to raise funds for the Irish Anti-War movement in the week running up to the visit. It was expected to attract 8,000 people but the organisers had to move to a smaller venue.
In the single biggest security operation in Irish history, 2,000 Gardai (police), 4,000 Irish troops, Scorpion tanks, two security companies, along with hundreds of CIA and FBI agents descended around the Shannon area. The total cost exceeded E10 million.
The Socialist Party and Socialist Youth had one of the biggest and liveliest contingents on the demonstration in Dublin, which included many young people from both the north and south of Ireland.
As always our TD [MP] Joe Higgins received an excellent response when he spoke from the platform. Joe lambasted the role of Bush and US imperialism in Iraq and the role of the Irish government in supporting them.
He also got an enthusiastic response when he said that real democracy would not exist in Iraq until there was a complete withdrawal of US and foreign forces and the wealth of Iraq was under the democratic ownership and control of the Iraqi people.
We also had contingents on anti-Bush demonstrations in Cork and Shannon Airport the following day. Many young people expressed an interest in getting involved with Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party throughout the weekend.
In The Socialist 3 July 2004:
International socialist news and analysis
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