The Workers Solidarity Movement was founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1984 following discussions by a number of local anarchist groups on the need for a national anarchist organisation. At that time with unemployment and inequality on the rise, there seemed every reason to argue for anarchism and for a revolutionary change in Irish society. This has not changed.
Like most socialists we share a fundamental belief that capitalism is the problem. We believe that as a system it must be ended, that the wealth of society should be commonly owned and that its resources should be used to serve the needs of humanity as a whole and not those of a small greedy minority. But, just as importantly, we see this struggle against capitalism as also being a struggle for freedom. We believe that socialism and freedom must go together, that we cannot have one without the other. As Mikhail Bakunin, the Russian anarchist said, “Socialism without freedom is tyranny and brutality”.
Anarchism has always stood for individual freedom. But it also stands for democracy. We believe in democratising the workplace and in workers taking control of all industry. We believe that this is the only real alternative to capitalism with its on going reliance on hierarchy and oppression and its depletion of the world’s resources.
In the years since our formation, we’ve been involved in a wide range of struggles – our members are involved in their trade unions; we’ve fought for abortion rights and against the presence of the British state in Northern Ireland, and against the growth of racism in southern Ireland; we’ve also been involved in campaigns in support of workers from countries as far apart as Nepal, Peru and South Africa. Alongside this, we have produced over fifty issues of our paper Workers Solidarity, and a wide range of pamphlets. In 1986, we organised a speaking tour of Ireland by an anarchist veteran of the Spanish Civil War, Ernesto Nadal, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the revolution there. In 1997 we organised a speaking tour for ex-political prisoner and Black Panther Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, a US anarchist.
As anarchists we see ourselves as part of a long tradition that has fought against all forms of authoritarianism and exploitation, a tradition that strongly influenced one of the most successful and far reaching revolutions in this century – in Spain in 1936 – 37. The value of this tradition cannot be underestimated today. With the fall of the Soviet Union there is renewed interest in our ideas and in the tradition of libertarian socialism generally. We hope to encourage this interest with Red & Black Revolution. We believe that anarchists and libertarian socialists should debate and discuss their ideas, that they should popularise their history and struggle, and help point to a new way forward.
The Corrib gas project entails exploiting a natural gas deposit off the northwest coast of Ireland. The field is located about 80 km off Erris Head in County Mayo, in water depths of 355 metres. The natural gas field, discovered in 1996, was the first reported commercial natural gas discovery in Ireland since the Kinsale Head gas field in 1973. The gas is from Triassic strata. The company set up to exploit the field is a conventure of Shell E&P Ireland (operator 45%), Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Limited (36.5%), and Marathon International Petroleum Hibernia Limited (18.5%). Reserves in the field are believed to be about 30 billion cubic metres (1 trillion ft³) 70% the volume of the Kinsale field.
The Shell to Sea campaign opposes the current plans for the project, which it regards as dangerous, despite assurances from Shell. The level of opposition to the current configuration of the project has led to a large amount of security at the refinery building site at Bellanaboy.
Shell have proposed to develop the Corrib field as a sub-sea production facility with onshore processing. This method of development is claimed by Shell to be in line with best industry practice for gas fields of this type, but no other refinery in the developed world is both as close to a residential community and regional water supply. Many people, including local residents, are concerned about the health, safety and environmental impact of the onshore aspects of the scheme, and, citing Shell’s record, do not believe the company’s assurances. Others are concerned with alleged irregularities and precedents surrounding the project. Protests by residents have been ongoing daily at the refinery site since the summer of 2005, when five local men were jailed for contempt of court after refusing to obey a court injunction to allow Shell workers on their lands.
The Shell to Sea campaign, which is attempting to have the gas refined at sea rather than inland, was created during their imprisonment. A poll conducted throughout the county by TNS/MRBI on behalf of RTÉ‘s Nuacht in September 2006. 60% felt the terminal should be located offshore at sea, with less than a quarter supporting the current plans. The offshore alternative has strongest support amongst those aged under 49 years, and those residing in Castlebar/Ballinrobe/ Claremorris and Westport/Belmullet areas.”