The largest demonstration of the entire Windsor state visit took place on Wednesday [May 18] with éirígí’s March on Dublin Castle. Despite the best efforts of the state and the corporate media to deter people from taking to the streets up to 350 people joined the protest, which assembled at the site of Robert Emmet’s execution at St Catherine’s Church on Dublin’s Thomas Street.
Although the start time for the first of the speakers had to be postponed by half an hour to facilitate those who had been delayed by the lockdown of Dublin city, the crowd was kept well entertained by Joe Keegan’s repertoire of rebel songs.
At 6.15pm the first of the speaker’s, éirígí Dublin City Councillor Louise Minihan, took to the platform. She was followed by independent Councillor Davey Hyland from Newry, independent Dublin City Councillor Cieran Perry, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland Eugene McCartan, independent Fermanagh Councillor Bernice Swift and éirígí Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith.
A common theme of opposition to Windsor, and the archaic system of monarchy, class and imperialism that she symbolises, emerged from the contributions of all the speakers. Belfast singer/songwriter Pól MacAdaim’s songs of resistance resonated with those themes. Videos of all those who spoke and sang will be posted on this website shortly.
With Breandán’s contribution complete the march lined up on Thomas Street behind the lead banner which bore the words ‘Britain out of Ireland’. Behind that a black coffin bearing the words ‘British Empire’ was carried by four protesters. And behind that again the main body of the protest assembled carrying a range of colourful placards, flags and banners.
As the protest moved off a cacophony of whistles and chants rose above the Rebel Liberties, a sound that was added to by the approving claps and cheers of many of the onlookers that lined Thomas Street. By the time the march reached the top of Francis Street it has swelled in size to an estimated 350 people. It was at this point that a detachment of roughly fifty helmet-wearing, baton-yielding Gardaí moved rapidly from a side street to form a line along the right-hand side of the march, where they remained for the remainder of the protest.
By the time the March on Dublin Castle reached the Garda lines it was clear that the state had no intention of allowing the protest to get any further than Christchurch Cathedral. Hundreds of Gardaí, many wearing helmets and carrying batons, positioned themselves on three sides of the demonstration. It was a show of strength without any recent parallel in the Twenty-Six Counties, which made a mockery of the suggestion that the state was willing to tolerate opposition to the Windsor visit. The air of intimidation surrounding an entirely peaceful protest was palpable.
Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson then addressed the crowd, congratulating people on their courage and discipline in the face of the extreme provocation provided by both the Windsor visit and the security operation that surrounded it. Hundreds of black balloons were then released in memory of all of those who have died at the hands of Windsor’s official and unofficial death squads. And the black coffin of the British Empire was left at the Garda lines.
In his closing contribution Brian reminded those present that thousands of people had lined the streets of Dublin in 1911 to greet ‘King George V’ and only a couple of hundred had joined with James Connolly to oppose it. And that was only five years before the 1916 Rising. In five short years everything can change. The challenge now is to accelerate the rebuilding of the republican movement to ensure that any future British royal visit will be met not by three hundred protesters but by ten thousand.