Anarchist Workers Alliance leaflets (1979/80)

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Some leaflets from the Anarchist Workers Alliance in 1979 and 1980.  First off are two national ones about nuclear power.  The first set out their position, with two points of particular interest.  They, along with almost everyone else at that time, had believed the ‘research’ indicating that oil deposits would be exhausted within thirty years.  There may be a similarity with the “peak oil” argument of the last decade, which was also widely believed but does not appear to have been accurate.  Both of these outcomes will occur, but clearly not as quickly as had been believed by many.

The other point of interest is their rejection of ‘zero growth’ economics, “while we oppose any attempt to bring nuclear power into Ireland (or anywhere else for that matter) we distance ourselves from those who say we don’t need nukes because there should be no increase in energy usage.  Zero growth would mean more poverty, unemployment and lack of facilities.  We need more energy to create socially useful jobs, more facilities for leisure and entertainment, and better living conditions.”

The second leaflet was given out at the 5,000 strong anti-nuclear festival in 1979 at Carnsore in Co Wexford.  It calls for a campaign in the unions to win ‘blacking’ of any work to build nuclear power stations.  At that stage the ESB Officers Association had come out in opposition to nuclear power.

Today Ireland has no nuclear stations, and never had.  An account of how this was achieved is here

The others leaflets are from the AWA’s Dublin branch.
(1) An advertisement for a public meeting in the offices of the Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union.  Today the ATGWU is part of UNITE, and the hall is now the headquarters of the Samaritans.

(2) A call for industrial action circulated at the tax reform march in late 1979.  The ICTU leadership was trying (successfully) to reassert its control over the more militant Trades Councils who had earlier organised massive demonstrations on working days to demand that more of the tax burden be shifted to the rich.  There is an interview with Sam Nolan of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, where Sam discusses the marches here

(3) A response to the declaration of a “housing emergency” in Dublin.  See here for information about the Dublin Squatters Association of the mid-1970s.

(4) And finally, one produced during the Pope’s 1979 visit to Dublin.  At a time when the Catholic Church and its influence on the state was almost beyond question (with divorce banned, gay sex illegal, and contraception restricted to married couples) it pulls no punches.  Church control of schools is seen as filling “young people’s heads with superstitious drivel about hell, god and other repressive fantasies”.

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Dublin Anarchist Group, May Day (1978)

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This was the first leaflet from the Dublin Anarchist Group, and below is a sneering and very inaccurate report from a Stalinist journal of the time.

The DAG only lasted for a year or so before it had a friendly split. The minority got together with some likeminded people from the Belfast Anarchist Collective and formed the Anarchist Workers Alliance. That can be seen as a forerunner of the Workers Solidarity Movement (formed in 1984).

The majority, who favoured a looser and less politically defined group, went on to establish the ABC bookshop in Marlborough Street and published two issues of a magazine called Resistance. Proving that Dublin is a small place, they shared that building with the Socialist Labour Party and the 32 County Feminist Federation.

The DAG’s membership included Jackie Crawford, Hugh McPartlin, Patricia McCarthy, Joan Stephenson, Alan MacSimoin, Don Bennett and Valerie McCarthy

This snippet comes from superSPI, the often humourous magazine of the Socialist Party of Ireland.  This had no connection to today’s party of the same name.  It was a small hardline Stalinist split from from the Official Republican Movement in 1971, which sought to win the Moscow franchise away from the Communist Party.  Over its 11 years of life it never spread beyond Dublin and the remnants ended up in the Labour Party.

Getting three things wrong in just two sentences wasn’t bad going! The leaflet was not distributed in Trinity College but on that year’s Dublin May Day march. The Dublin Anarchist Group didn’t have an office in Rathmines, and not having an office it couldn’t have been courtesy of the Student Christian Movement.

The real story was far less interesting. The Dublin Anarchist Group had been formed a couple of months previously. The Student Christian Movement allowed a multitude of campaign groups to use their address for mail, and the DAG asked if they could also use it for a few weeks until they sorted out their own.

I don’t think there were any Trinity students involved (though I could be wrong), though there was a WUI shop steward from Trinity. There were a couple of students from UCD but a good few of the 25 or so members of the group were ex-republicans (both provo and sticky) or union activists. I can remember people from the CIE works in Inchicore, Dublin County Council, and Ardmore Film Studios.

And whilst talking of ‘interesting’ things, the SPI who covered Ballymun and Tallaght with anti-Provo “Isolate the Gunmen’ posters, had originally funded themselves by an armed raid on Ballymun post office.

**superSPI is available for download at the excellent Left Archive of the Cedar Lounge Revolution blog: cedarlounge.wordpress.com/category/irish-left-online-document-archive/socialist-party-of-ireland-spi