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Report on WSM Spring 2007 National Conference
ireland / britain | anarchist movement | news report Tuesday May 29, 2007 21:21 by WSM National Sec. - WSM
The Workers Solidarity Movement held its Spring 2007 National Conference in the Teachers' Club at the end of April. Our conference saw around 70% of the membership attending with many new faces since our last conference 6 months ago.
National Conference opens with reports by various office holders, editorial committees etc., followed by questions and open discussion. A summary of these reports follows with some details and discussion removed for reasons of privacy.
Report of the National Secretary
This is the first report I have produced as National Secretary having been elected to the role at the last conference. It comes in a period of unprecedented growth and activity for the organisation and as such it will be difficult to include everything we have been doing.
Delegate Council (WSM’s decision making body) met four times in the period since the last conference with the first being held in Cork during a dayschool on sexual violence. A number of motions have been passed in that period and new members have participated as delegates and through submitting motions.
The past 6 months has seen the struggle around the Corrib Gas field and Shell to Sea campaign heat up. Our Dublin and Cork branches have sent regular delegates to Shell to Sea meetings while other members lived in and visited the Rossport Solidarity Camp. Over 20 members took park in a mass trespass which shut down the Bellanaboy refinery site. A joint direct action which saw the lobby and roof of Shell's Irish headquarters, Corrib House, occupied was organised with Eirigi. Our member from the Rossport Solidarity Camp addressed a well attended public meeting in Cork on the struggle against Shell. WSM also ensured we had a sizeable presence at the national demonstration in Dublin.
Three new issues of Workers Solidarity were published since the last conference along with 1 new issue of Red and Black Revolution, both with a new layout. We also mass produced three Rossport related stickers, an anti-racism sticker and a sticker advertising the Mayday march. A local paper “The North City Anarchist” was produced and distributed by our Jack White branch in the run up to the Anarchist Bookfair. The 1st of May branch have been busy re-writing the “Anarchism and Ireland” pamphlet while Lucy Parsons have agreed to start work on a “Natural Resources” pamphlet. Two polish pamphlets were printed for the anarchist bookfair containing translations of WSM texts.
Members have participated in popular struggles and campaigns like the new pro-choice group (Choice Ireland), the anti-water charges campaign in Belfast and the Justice for Terence Wheelock campaign in Dublin. Regular delegates attended Anti-War-Ireland meetings helping to organise a democratic anti-war group. We have members involved heavily with the Independent Workers Union which continues to grow in Dublin and Cork with roughly 1500 members. A motion has recently been passed within the union against involvement in parliamentary activity.
Due to rapid growth the Dublin branches forged a new 3rd branch, called “Lucy Parsons”, and divided the 2 existing branches along stricter geographical lines with the May 1st branch becoming the Liberties/Dublin 8 branch and the Jack White branch becoming the Cabra/Phibsboro/Dublin 7 branch. This was decided and facilitated through an all Dublin meeting of WSM members. All 3 Dublin branches are continuing to grow and to bring in interested parties to their meetings. Our dayschool on women and sexual violence was well attended and our Cork branch did a great job organising it. The Cork comrades then went on to establish themselves as the branch with the best gender balance in the organisation with a 50/50 ratio! A recent public meeting in Wexford saw a number of youths express interest in the organisation.
May 1st organised this year’s bookfair which was a massive success. Attendance was estimated at between 400-800 people. Meetings were held on a wealth of topics and all but 2 were well attended. Groups visited from the UK and all the stalls enjoyed quite healthy sales. Contact was made with members of a Welsh group interested in adopting a Platformist model.
Report of the International Secretary
Our new International Secretary reported the poor state of our international affairs prior to his assuming the role and the work he is currently engaged in to build links with other organisations in a more systematic and formal manner. Our relationship with SIL is something the organisation needs to consider.
We have made contact with a Scottish group who have since developed a platformist organisation (Praxis) and we are maintaining strong links and mutual aid with them.
The WSM participated in an international day of solidarity with Haiti in February. A new contact has been translating our material into Arabic helping us to reach millions of people we were previously unable to. Contact has been made with Mexican comrades inviting us to take part in a conference in Mexico city in June. Our new Spanish bulletin “Liberacion” was well received in Latin America and will hopefully be produced 3 times a year. New contacts were made in Venezuela and we have also began to establish a more formal connection with Alternative Libertaire in France.
General Perspectives Discussion
Our opening general perspectives discussion focussed around a number of main points including education, structure of national conference and a procedure for members wishing to leave the organisation. It was stressed that providing continuing education to members was crucial to maintaining good unity. Our socials should be maintained and should keep wider libertarians involved. There is a need to address structures of National Conference if growth continues, how motions will be submitted, etc. Our rate of growth and gender balance was also discussed.
Motions passed at conference include a call for the nationalisation of Ireland's natural resources and the formation of a campaign based around reclaiming our Natural Resources.
A motion laying out a democratic framework for discussions/negotiations with other left groups was passed alongside a motion to establish a constitutional review, while a motion to retire our Environment and Animal Rights position paper was defeated.
A motion to establish a new workers' rights campaign similar to the "Get Up, Stand Up" campaign was passed . Four motions on International work have been passed to help the organisation build stronger links with other Platformist and anarchist groups. A motion to change the wording of our Partition of Ireland paper was also passed and an updated copy will be available on our website soon.
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