Independent Media Centre Ireland

ISF: Another World Is Nearly Here!

category national | public consultation / irish social forum | feature author Wednesday October 06, 2004 20:12author by Irish Social Forumauthor email john.finnegan3 at mail dot dcu dot ieauthor phone 085-1423454

Major Debate on how to Oppose Neoliberalism

A debate on how best to oppose the forces of neoliberalism and global capitalism – and indeed what to replace it with - is set to be the highlight of this year's Irish Social Forum, which will take place in Dublin next weekend, October 8th to 10th. Another central theme will be racism in Ireland and its role in neoliberalism. Author and academic Peadar Kirby will argue for less market and more state... "What we call the Celtic Tiger is simply an Irish version of the tilt towards the market that is evident in countries throughout the world, as the state restructures itself so as to put the needs of global capital above the needs of its citizens."

However, Aileen O'Carroll of the anarchist Workers Solidarity Movement is calling for a "social revolution" to bring about "a world based on the principles of economic equality and direct democracy rather than the principle of profit. For me, the only solution is to replace this political system with one which is completely different," O'Carroll said. "I don't believe parliament will bring us the change we want. It cannot challenge the fundamental inequalities of neoliberalism. Parliament's role is to manage inequality not to remove it." The plenary, which will also be addressed by Mick O'Reilly of the ATGWU and Labour Councillor Mary Murphy, will feature conflicting views on social partnership and whether to participate in it.

Meanwhile, the role of racism in the neoliberal globalisation project will be highlighted at the other main plenary, titled Racism in Ireland. Author and Trinity College academic Dr Ronit Lentin will focus on the consequences, for Ireland, of the global migration regime. In the wake of the 2004 Citizenship referendum, Lentin will argue that "while, like all modern nation-states, Ireland is a 'racial state', at the present time of unparalleled prosperity (which, however, is accompanied by growing poverty and rich-poor gaps), Ireland is also a racist state. Ireland is creating armies of invisible migrant labourers. Looking at the stories of migrants is one alternative way to think about globalisation in today's Ireland." Also due to speak at the plenary on racism are Aisling Reidy of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Rosanna Flynn of Residents Against Racism and Jason Brannigan of Belfast-based Fascists Out Campaign.

The ISF will feature workshops hosted by more than 40 different groups from around Ireland on such topics as racism, trade unions, inner-city regeneration, trade justice, the global arms trade, Public Private Partnerships, the US military's use of Shannon Airport, female genital mutilation, left unity, incinerators, the EU constitution and the Criminal Justice Bill.

The Irish Social Forum is a gathering for everyone opposed to war, racism and the implications of corporate-led globalisation or neoliberalism. It is a space to bring together everyone who wants to see global justice, workers' rights and a sustainable society.

Lentin described the Irish Social Forum as being "dedicated to all those opposed to the neoliberal globalising forces of a regime where racial states harmonise their closure against people from the poor world."

'The ISF is a unique opportunity to build a broad movement which can challenge the dominance of pro-market sentiments and ideas throughout public discourse but especially in the media and in policy circles. As the destructive effects of the market on Irish society, and especially on the most vulnerable among us, become ever more evident building such a movement is an urgent priority.'

For some the Irish Social Forum will be a pre-cursor to the European Social Forum (ESF), which will this year be held in London from October 14th to 17th. Upwards of 50,000 activists from across Europe are expected to converge on London for this, the third ESF (

The Irish Social Forum was launched in July 2003, as a counter-summit to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which was due to be held in Dublin in October 2003. In the event, the WEF was cancelled, but the ISF went ahead and was a huge success, with over 400 people attending.

The Irish Social Forum 2004 will open at 7.30pm this Friday, 8th October at the St Nicholas of Myra Parish Centre, off Francis Street in Dublin's Liberties. The evening will include an introductory talk, screenings, live music and a DJ. Drinks will be served.

Saturday gets under way at 10.30am in the UCD student centre, where the workshops and the plenary will be followed by an evening of live music from Latin America workshops. An international range of food will also be on offer.

On Sunday the Forum moves to the ATGWU building in Middle Abbey Street. Full details are available at


(Saturday 9th October, 2pm, UCD Student Centre, Belfield)

* Jason Brannigan, Fascists Out Campaign
* Rosanna Flynn, Residents Against Racism
* Ronit Lentin, Campaign against the Deportation of Irish Children
* Aisling Reidy, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

(Sunday 10th October, 2pm, ATGWU, Mid Abbey St)

* Peadar Kirby, Lecturer, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University
* Mary Murphy, Labour Party Councillor (former National Policy Officer, SVdeP),
* Aileen O'Carroll, Workers Solidarity Movement
* Mick O'Reilly, General Secretary, ATGWU



The Irish Social Forum draws its inspiration and energy from the international movement of social forums, such as the World Social Forum and the European Social Forum, coming together to build alternatives towards a sustainable and equitable world in the belief that “another world is possible”. The forum is created by and for the movements and is organised in accordance with the World Social Forum Charter of Principles of Porto Alegre (

The first Irish Social Forum Co-operation and Solidarity Summit was held from October 17th-19th in University College Dublin. The summit featured speakers from countries as far as Pakistan, Palestine and Italy as well as local speakers and over forty workshops. The main themes of the Summit centred on Peace, Public Services, the Environment, and Equality. The workshops were held on a variety of issues such as prison privatisation plans, intellectual property, farmers’ issues North and South, the trade union movement and young workers, racism, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), West Papua, and feminist organisations. In all, about four hundred people attended the Irish Social Forum Summit and feedback was overall enthusiastic.

This is a chance for people from around Ireland to come together to engage in debate, organize action and build networks to strengthen the global justice movement. It will also feature music and film-showings celebrating the global movement.

The Irish Social Forum is a process to assist in, and present, the articulation of the movement of movements of individuals, formal organisations and informal groups from any part of Irish civil society who are negatively affected by and are opposed to the global project known as neoliberalism. Its purpose is to express the needs felt within Irish society as a powerful statement of the "other world" that is not only possible but is already "under construction" in many areas.

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