CYM Host Anti-Militarism School

On Sunday 5 May, the Connolly Youth Movement held an anti-militarism school in Dublin.

This forms part of a wider initiative by the CYM to tackle growing militarisation in Ireland; threats of joining NATO, the stealthy growth of an Irish arms industry under the guise of “dual-use”, war-profiteering in the north, the complicity of Irish institutions in the ongoing genocide in Palestine, and ongoing occupation by Britain.

The school started with a discussion on “Who Benefits From Militarism?” which saw attendees explore the international and domestic beneficiaries of increased militarisation.

Far from being something being forced on Ireland, increased militarism is something which the Irish ruling-class are direct beneficiaries of, as seen with Simon Coveney’s efforts to develop the Irish arms industry. We also explored the all-island nature of militarism, as seen with record profits from Belfast missile-makers and the fact that Britain continues to recruit thousands of Irish people every year.

Following this up we had a talk on “What Makes A News Story?” where we explored how media is created, what stories get picked up, and how this ultimately can be used to push certain narratives in a relatively short space of time.

One key example discussed was the sudden insistence that the Irish people need to have a “discussion” or a “debate” about the future of neutrality, despite the overwhelming majority of Irish people supporting the current policy. This followed with a practical session where attendees read a number of articles from various sources, identified what the spin on the story was, and how this can be challenged.

After a lunch break, we picked things up again with a discussion on the nature of “neutrality”.

During this discussion points were raised about the idea of “neutrality” versus the reality, and how Irish youth view this issue. Many Irish politicians have been open about the fact that Ireland is not neutral, but is instead simply “militarily non-aligned”. It was highlighted that this is something going back to the foundation of the Free State; whose foreign policy was effectively dictated by Britain and whose defence policy was subject to British imperial interests.

To this day, we see the real nature of the Irish state’s alignment when it comes to its unwillingness to do anything of substance in support of the Palestinian people.

The main focus of the school was finished up with a practical workshop on organising: how we can take all the lessons and ideas from the day and put them into practice. Some issues were highlighted such as the splintered and divided nature of the Irish anti-war movement, and we discussed lessons from previous Irish anti-war movements. We recognised that in the struggle for peace, the fight against the next war needs to start now.

We finished the day with a visit and speech from the Cuban ambassador to Ireland, Bernardo Hernandez. Given that we had spent the day talking about growing militarism, and the international capitalist beneficiaries of this trend, we were pleased to be reminded that there is an alternative.

The ambassador spoke to us about the Irish ancestry of some of Cuba’s young communists such as Julio Antonio Mella McPartland, a founder of the Communist Party, as well as Che Guevara’s well-known Irish heritage. The ambassador told us about Cuba’s long history of international solidarity, such as its support for anti-colonial liberation movements in Algeria and Angola, and spoke of its humanitarian foreign policy and support for the Palestinian people.

We were reminded too that Cuba itself is still subject to a foreign military occupation, with the Guantanamo Naval Base still occupied by the United States. The ambassador spoke of the difficulties that the ongoing blockade causes Cuba, and the importance of international solidarity from us in Ireland amidst these difficulties.

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