Northern Ireland: Bush not welcome in Belfast

Sinn Fein and DUP welcome war monger with open arms

No to Bush protests

George Bush’s recent visit to Belfast was met with protests wherever he went. Hundreds of people, enraged that this warmonger should be welcomed by our local politicians, met outside City Hall and Stormont (local ‘power-sharing’ Parliament buildings) to vent their anger.

In the days leading up to Bush’s visit, Socialist Youth (ISR in Ireland) had taken to the streets to make sure Bush got the welcome he truly deserved. Bush’s photo-shoot in Northern Ireland was nothing more than a cynical deception to try and make himself out as a man of ‘peace’ by claiming to have been instrumental in the supposedly successful ‘peace process’ in Northern Ireland.

No to Bush protests

Instead, Bush will go down as the most unpopular president in US history. His legacy will be his inaction after Hurricane Katrina, his unwillingness to recognise environmental destruction, his contribution to rising poverty, not only in the US but across the world, and the disastrous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

N Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson (Democratic Unionist Party) and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) welcomed George Bush with open arms to Stormont Castle. They have aided him in attempting to wipe the blood of murdered Iraqi’s from his hands. Rather than condemn Bush, all the main political parties used the President’s visit to rubber stamp their neo-liberal policies of water charges, privatisation and massive job cuts in public services. Sinn Fein was also ridiculed for sending their public representatives and members with banners to the protests, while they greeted Bush in luxury at Stormont Castle.

Local artists voiced many people’s anger by constructing a ‘NO BUSH’ sign, in 50 foot letters, on the side of Divis Mountain in West Belfast. The display could be seen from many parts of Belfast. Over 600 people took part in a lunch time protest against Bush’s visit outside Belfast City Hall. Speakers from Irish Congress of Trade Unions and NIPSA (Northern Ireland’s largest trade union) attacked the decision of the Assembly to welcome Bush with open arms to Belfast. Also present on the platform were speakers from the anti-war movement, NUS-USI (student unions in Ireland) and an Iraqi speaker.

No to Bush 3

No to Bush protests

Local people outraged by Bush visit disruption

After the protest, ‘Bush Not Welcome’ a group involving a number of other political groups, including the Socialist Party and Socialist Youth, held a protest at the gates of Stormont (Parliament buildings). The Socialist Party was also tipped off by a parent that Bush was to visit an integrated primary school [i.e. a ‘mixed Catholic and Protestant school’ – the vast majority of schools in N Ireland are either Catholic or Protestant]. We demanded that the governors of the school withdraw the invitation and that George Bush should not be allowed to visit the school. The local media interviewed a number of Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) and Socialist Youth activists over our opposition to Bush’s visit.

Local people in East Belfast were enraged that the massive security presence meant that many roads were closed off and local services were shut, to facilitate Bush’s visit. A heavy police presence attempted to intimidate protesters from making their voices heard but nearly 200, mainly young, people showed up at the gates of Stormont. Chants such as ‘Bush Bush – Out Out!’ and ‘No welcome for Bush, no blood for oil, no US warplanes on our soil!’ were heard.

The protest attracted much media attention and appeared on all the local news stations. Speakers at the protest included green activists, anarchists and members of the Socialist Party and Socialist Youth.

Members of the CWI were to the forefront in calling for the need for a political alternative to the main sectarian parties and showing the international opposition to Bush around the world. A number of people signed up to join or to get more information about the Socialist Party on the day.

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June 2008